Breaking Bread

“He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”
Luke 22:19

The Lord’s Supper, the sacrament of Holy Communion, is a sacred part of the Christian faith, one that is innately controversial simply because of its significance. Some believe it must be practiced as frequently as possible, others no more frequently than once a week; some that only believers of their own tradition may partake, others that anyone may partake, regardless of formal examination; some believe that it absolutely must be wine, others that it is insignificant. And let’s not even breach the question of transubstantiation. But that is nothing related to what I want to discuss today. Instead, I want to talk about our constant failure to follow his command.

In addition to the Gospel tellings of the Last Supper in Luke 22 and Matthew 26, Paul also writes about that Passover meal in order to show the Corinthian church its issues with division among its members when sharing the Lord’s Supper (which was much more of a meal than the bite of bread and sip of wine in which we now partake). It is his commentary (1 Corinthians 11:17-34) that we so often hear when our pastors introduce the Lord’s supper on Sunday. And that is what always sticks with me.

Jesus, after pouring the wine, said to His disciples: “do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” And Paul comments: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Whenever you drink of it. Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup. Do so in remembrance of me.

And I don’t even always manage to say a word of thanks over each meal. Certainly I am not breaking bread in remembrance of Him.

Now, I’m sure there is the question of whether or not Jesus meant each time you drink a glass of wine or at each Passover meal. I don’t know the answer to that, but I guess to me it doesn’t matter. Each time I grab a snack, sit down to a meal, pour a glass of clean water or open a bottle of wine, I am doing so because of the Lord’s benevolence, because of His creation. My life is sustained by His grace alone, so my physical presence alone is a testament to Him.

But I’m not just talking about saying grace before meals, although that is a great and important thing to do. What I’m really talking about is making sure our lives are intentional, even our meals. Each time that we pour a glass of wine or eat a piece of bread, we are hearkening back to not only that meal, but to His sacrifice which was foreshadowed in that meal. It is our choice whether or not we recognize or acknowledge that relationship, but a choice to ignore it does not nullify its truth. As Paul writes in verse 29: “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”

So don’t just examine your heart before you drink the tiny little cup of grape juice and little wafer next Sunday, but each and every time that you nourish your body. One of the wonderful, faithful results of this regular self-examination is that your heart will be in a much better place the next time you do come before the Lord’s Table for the sacrament. God has a way of melting and molding our hearts by first making us aware of our own brokenness and need for Him. Declaring His death with each meal, each snack and each glass of wine (or beer or bubble tea) allows us to recognize our own brokenness, our own humanity and His perfect, sacrificial, redeeming love.

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