Friday, September 14, 2007

Lord's Supper is coming back in vogue

Ben Witherington, whose blog I have linked on my blog,, has a new book on the Lord's Supper entitled Making a Meal of It--Rethinking the Theology of the Lord's Supper.

In his blog he comments on this book: "In this study I argue that the Lord's Supper was originally part of a large meal, not a separate ritual or ceremony, and as such brought into play all the ancient understandings about hospitality, the welcoming of people to the table, and the like."

Postmodern generations are drawn to ancient rituals, and many new emerging churches are partaking of the LS on a weekly basis. The LS--which had been "out" in seeker services--is now back in vogue.

Today, gathering around a table is almost entirely metaphorical. Despite the physical challenges that exist, however, in most of our assemblies (pew arrangements), the characteristics of the table need to be brought out at these times:

  • Equality that comes from the act of eating together

  • Sharing by all, as happens at any meal, including love, laughter, light and serious conversations (remember, the LS was celebrated on resurrection day, and is not a funeral meal)

  • Doing things for the common good (characteristic of Greco-Roman meals)

  • Hospitality, as strangers are welcomed

The early church, which largely met in homes, even had a full meal as part of the Lord's Supper.

I have not yet read Witherington's book, but I plan to. Here are two recommendations that I have on the Lord's Supper.

From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World by Dennis E. Smith. This is a fascinating read which is essential to understanding ancient meals and what is happening in 1 Cor 11.

Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord's Supper by John Mark Hicks.

How do you think we could better promote these table characteristics in our assemblies?