Summary: Paul was not giving 21st Century Pastors a liturgy for administering Communion. He was admonishing people who eat together in the name of Jesus to eat with the right Spirit - a spirit of unity.
Scripture: 1 Cor. 11:17-34
We were hungry. We had put in a long day at school. We had played hard outside after school. We were called inside by Mom or the porch light going on indicating it was time to come in. We had cleaned up for supper, which in itself was a daunting task, and now we were ready to dig in.
And it always happened. With the first thrust of the fork into a potato, or the plunge of a knife into the butter dish, we always heard those same grueling words, “Wait.” “You kids sit there and just wait for your father and I.” With that, we would dutifully - most times at least - fold our hands in our lap and try without much success to ignore the delicious aroma - we WERE famished after all - and try to appear to wait patiently for mom and dad to arrive at the dinner table, wait for the blessing to be said, and wait for the first plate to be passed, from one of the adults at the table. We knew better than to reach across the table under their watchful eye.
Waiting. Waiting is one of the most important things we do in our Christian life, and yet it is highly underrated by the world. Waiting is not convenient. Waiting wastes precious time. Waiting means we might miss out. If you want an example of that, just park on the outskirts of any mall and observe on Black Friday.
And it’s hard to wait. Try waiting for a doctor’s report. Waiting for the healing process to take place. (Picking at a scab.) Waiting in the checkout line. There are very few of us in the world these days, if any, who are really okay with waiting. How many times in the course of a day, do you hear someone say, “It’s okay, you go ahead. I don’t mind waiting.” And even if we DO say that - we put a limit on it. If we let someone go ahead of us, we have expectations that they will respect our kindness and move forward quickly, not stand there and chat with the Cashier, or the waitress, or whoever. Don’t we?
The people in the church at Corinth had a problem with waiting too. But in fact, waiting was a just a symptom of a deeper problem. The real problem was that they were divided. They were divided between rich and poor. And so what would happen is, they’d have a pot luck - they were called “Love Feasts” - which is really pretty ironic since there wasn’t really a whole lot of love evidenced. They’d have a Love Feast and the rich would bring lots of good food and the poor would bring what they could, and instead of waiting for everyone, the rich would dive in and eat their own stuff before the poor could even get to it.
They didn’t share!
It would be like us coming here to a pot luck and because we brought filet mignon - which we like - we bring it to the feast, but then we make sure just our family gets to eat it, because we sure don’t want to end up with the tater-tot hot dish! And there was always plenty, but the rich got it first. And they drank first and ended up getting drunk, while the poor were going hungry.
So Paul says, WAIT! Wait for each other. And he gives the example of what Jesus did when they broke bread together at the passover meal.
See, when Paul wrote this letter, he was not giving 21st Century Pastors a liturgy for administering Communion. He was admonishing people who eat together in the name of Jesus to eat with the right Spirit - a spirit of unity.
And the reason we DO that - the reason we wait for one another, and SHARE with one another, is because Jesus gave his body and blood for us. He shared himself with us, so when we get together, we SHARE ourselves and what we have with one another. That’s Christianity. That’s the heart of our coming together.
So when we come together for worship, it’s communion.
When we come together for a Love Feast - a pot luck - maybe we should start calling them Love Feasts from now on - it’s communion.
Any time we come together in the name of Jesus, it’s communion!
So then when we take COMMUNION - when we take the elements and REMEMBER, not only WHAT Jesus did for us, but HOW Jesus did it - by pouring himself out for us, we have a picture of every time we get together as believers. That’s why communion isn’t just for today. That’s why Christmas isn’t just for one day. That’s why Thanksgiving isn’t limited to one day in November. Because of Communion.