(This meditation is the second of a series regarding the communion table)
What does it mean that the communion table is a place where we can privately share a moment with God while also participating in a community event? How do we resolve this apparent contradiction?
We are, as individuals, invited to the communion table. There is no one just like you. You are unique. We are not Stepford wives: there is no perfect way to be or a perfect way to look. There is beauty to be found in our individuality. We can see individual change in biblical heroes like Moses. He was a prince of Egypt and had individual experiences with God through mountain experiences and a burning bush. We can also see individual invitation through great minds outside of the bible: Augustine and his sermons. Martin Luther and his list nailed to a church door. Karl Barth and perfect grace.
At the same time we are invited as a community to the communion table. Many communion tables are set up where we are like pupils sitting before the great teacher God. Communion table is up front while we all sit at our pews or desks waiting for the lesson. Conversly, Jesus first established communion to be more like the Knights of the Round Table. We are in relationship, and can see everyone we are communing with. We can understand community invitation when we recall the Israelite journey in the wilderness, Jonah and the Ninivites, and the call of the Disciples. Outside of the bible we can see the power of the community throughout history. There were the Newsies, a group of kids who were not being paid a fair wage. For a brief moment in history they worked together to gain fair wages. Then there is Martin Luther King Jr and his sit ins. The civil rights movement was won due to the pacifist gatherings of King's followers.
We can resolve this contradiction because of a symbol Paul gave to the Corinthians nearly 2,000 years ago: The body of Christ. A human body is both made of individual parts and at the same time is one. We can put our focus on either the parts or the whole body but we would be missing half the story. God loves our unique individuality and God loves when we can work together moving mountains.
Harmony comes from knowing both of the above ideas are true. The community is better when individuals care for themselves, and a person cannot truly be whole without the help of others. The table reminds us how impossible it is to choose individual or community. I am an individual within the community. The community is full of individuals.
Next week: How do we resolve the health of the table? How is the table both broken and whole at the same time?