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As I enter the sanctuary, I see the cloth-draped table near the podium. Communion Sunday! My heart lifts—and sinks. What will they serve? If they passlittle cubes of bread, I resolve to take three or four. This time I am determined to be nourished.

The problem could be me. Maybe I simply lack imagination. In the churches where mini-saltines are served, my clumsy fingers struggle to find and keep purchase of a single morsel. As I crush it in a single chew while the pastor reads, "This is my body, broken for you," I cannot help wondering if Christ has broken a fingernail on my behalf. At the common cup where I take a single anxious swallow, or in the jigger of juice I down in two gulps, I strain to see the blood that flowed from his face and side, the blood that covers the flood of my sins. I know this should be enough, because I deserve none of it—not a fingernail of bread, not a tongue-tip of the blood that Christ spent for me! But the body talks; its messages are real, and I cannot help listening: We have overspiritualized the Lord's Supper. We've turned an actual meal into a pantomime of a meal, and the church is hungry because of it.

I have some guesses as to how this has happened. Forgive the familiarity of this critique, but we're still trying so hard to be spiritual. The Book of Hebrews tells us that earthly things shadow and symbolize the more real yet invisible heavenly things. If Christ's presence is made real through the elements, then a sliver, a swallow is surely enough! And if the ceremony is mostly memorial, a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice, then tidbits and jiggers suffice!

But we cannot escape another truth: On the night he was betrayed, Christ offered a very real meal. Throughout the Scriptures, ...

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Why Are Our Communion Meals So Paltry?
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In the Magazine

March 2012

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