They ate together:
- To remember Jesus.
- To make sure no one went without food.
My college roommates and I used to mark our food: “C” for Curt, “L” for Lyn, and “S” for Steve. If the food wasn’t marked it was free game, available for whoever wanted it. That was usually mustard, and anything with green fuzz growing on it.
Roommates are people who share a living space, but have no intention of sharing life.
My wife and I don’t label our food. We share everything. (Of course there are times when we don’t share equally.)
The benefit of a family is shared resources: food, housing, cars, experiences, love.
The act of communion is the church’s opportunity to share. In the New Testament church, communion wasn’t just a pinch of bread and a plastic thimble of juice; it was a common meal shared among the community. Paul talked about this in First Corinthians 11. The divisions in the Corinthian church were along class lines. The wealthy ate and left the poor to fend for themselves. Paul realized this was a disingenuous exercise of the remembrance that Jesus has instituted—a church unified and caring for one another.
What Paul talks about here is a family model church. There’s no mine and yours. In families people share and care for each other.
If the church is a family, it should be a people who share and care for one another. It should be people who desire to live life together.
There are two implications of this-
- The church’s celebration of communion should be more like a family meal with people who care for one another coming together to share in the common life with one another. (Read more in Body Politics by John Howard Yoder, esp. Ch. 2.)
- The family meal should be more like the experience of worship that we typically associate with the church ceremony. It should be a liturgy of a sort, a type of communal worship regular in practice and given to the worship of God. The evening meal can easily be a form of worship as we gather in faith and talk about how God is working in the lives of our members. (Read more in The Church Friendly Family by Randy Booth and Rich Lusk, esp. Ch. 4.)