During a recent communion at church I suddenly made these observations: why do we take communion only at certain times? Would it be more (or at least equally) appropriate to “take communion” at every meal? And on a related note, why do people religiously pray over their meals, but not snacks or drinks? This post is my attempt at thinking through my own questions. I haven’t done a thorough analysis of the translated or original texts, though. These are just my thoughts.
Before I start, a note on terms. Christian communion is the practice of taking bread and wine in remembrance of Christ and his sacrifice. I’m defining ritual as a practice with certain uncommon behaviors that are practiced certain special times. Even though it’s certainly not out of the question, we don’t often think of religious rituals as something done daily (despite the therm “daily ritual,” which has to do with habits). I’m making the usual connotation of “special times only” part of my definition for this argument.
A question you often hear among Christians is, do we do communion weekly at church, or only monthly? Some may point out that the early Christians might have done communion every day (or so I’ve heard). My concern is not with which days should communion take place, but at which events. Specifically, I’m wondering if the act of eating isn’t sufficient for communion. The food and drink are good representations for Christ’s body and blood, and people eat and drink every day, providing ample opportunity for reflection. All I’m saying is, maybe when Jesus said “take and eat, this is my body” he meant for us to reflect on that every time we ate. Same for the drink.
From what I understand, and in broad terms, communion is a commandment to remember Christ’s sacrifice and purpose of his suffering and to examine our lives (1 Cor 11:27-32). It took place on a Jewish feast day (Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread). The value of the act comes not from what they were eating and drinking, but what they were observing. Some Christians bring this point up when discussing transubstantiation with Catholics, so I expect at least these people to follow through with that belief. I don’t think the fact that the Lord’s Supper was on a holiday is sufficient to counteract my argument. Otherwise, we would only do it once per year, and on the correct day. It seems to me that remembrance of the Lord’s crucifixion should happen far more than once per year, and in any case I can’t think of any other holidays that Christ commanded or that the Bible promotes. Don’t you even dare think “Christmas” unless you have some scripture commanding celebration of Jesus’s birthday. If your idea of celebration involves nothing more than gift-buying (I call it Consumeristmas) you better have a comprehensive explanation for it.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? Found a flaw in my thinking or some strong evidence for one side or another? Please share, I’d love to hear it.