24 March 2017
1 Corinthians 10:14-22
“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (vv. 16-17)
Today's passage will be familiar to many of us
as it contains the words we use week by week in our services of
Holy Communion: "Though we are many, we are one body, because we
all share in one bread."
Paul draws a contrast between the food used in
ritual pagan sacrifices and the meal that is the hallmark of the
Church's life as a worshipping community - which has for us become
known as the Eucharist. And (as we now expect with Paul) it's still
not actually about food - what we physically consume - but rather
about our relationship with that meal and, through it, with one
another. The Lord's Supper (as it's also known) is described by
Paul as an act of sharing both in the body of Christ and in
relationship with one another. "Whose table do you want to eat at?"
he asks, "What company do you want to be found in?"
Idolatry and integrity are the issues at stake
here - you cannot, Paul says, claim that Christ is the risen Lord
and yet also share in another kind of community meal whose nature
is to deny Jesus' sovereignty. It's a living contradiction - and
implies that you've got your 'heart knowledge' all wrong.
Today we speak of the Lord's Supper as a
sacrament - a visible outward sign of an inward and invisible
grace. And this chimes with what Paul is saying here today - though
food and drink themselves cannot corrupt our hearts or bodies, the
rituals and relationships we're prepared to engage with speak of
the values that lie within. Discipline is required if the
Corinthians are to retain their integrity in a society that is
dominated by idols and idolatry.
- What different tables do you find yourself eating at? Where are
you most at home?
- Can you recall a meal you have shared in that has been not just
physically but spiritually nourishing? What made it so?
- What 'idols' do you encounter in your day-to-day life? How
might you retain your integrity when you meet them?
Bible notes author: Anna Drew
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