(This meditation is the first of a series regarding the communion table)
The draw of the table appears to be a paradox. We are called to be participants, feasting in communion, and we are called away to be messengers for others. These two items appear to be contradiction to one another. How do we understand this apparent contradiction as worshiping believers?
First of all, Jesus was a celebrator of food. Meals were like glue for him, binding people together in conversation. When Zacchaeus, the tax collector, was up in a tree, just for the chance to see Jesus, it was Jesus who turned the situation around. He wanted to go to his house and share a meal. Jesus' first miracle took place during a wedding celebration. Jesus, on more than one occasion, ate at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus' house. It is no wonder the biggest metaphor he leaves with us is the communion table.
Yet, this celebration is not a gluttonous event. It is not Valhalla. In fact, when we are invited to the table the message once we get there is "go." "Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Matt 28:19) Jesus asks Peter if he loved him. Peter three times says he does and three times Jesus tells Peter in different ways, "Feed my sheep."
The paradox is resolved because the opposing force of the table is set like magnetic poles. It turns the table into an electromagnet, intensifying the connection between us and God. We are both drawn to and pulled away from it because that is how the symbol of communion is powered. If either the pull or the draw ceases to exist the power escapes the table.
Next week: The paradox of relation. How is the communion table both a personal and group experience?