For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. –1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Communion: it’s a ritual that Christian communities all over the world and throughout time participate in.
I have a really complicated relationship to tradition and ritual. My first instinct can be to see it as odd, irrelevant, or even harmful. How often is the communion table served with an atonement theology that consists only of guilt and shame? How often do we take this table of remembrance and use it to tell our neighbors that all are welcome at God’s table except those we’ve defined as “unclean”, as “other”?
Yet, there is something sacred about these familiar words, and the power they carry.
Today’s lectionary text invites me to consider the roots of the communion story. Through Scripture, I recall the first Passover, as told in Exodus, and John’s recounting of the Last Supper. I’m reminded that communion is one way to be reminded of who God is, and to be grounded in the stories of those who came before. I reflect not only on what transpired around the table with Jesus, but the communities over the years who have continued to gather around the table of God, and wrestle with how we encounter the Divine, and why it matters.
Communion is not the only ritual that shapes the rhythms and fabrics of our lives and our communities. We each have our own multifaceted relationship to the rhythms that have shaped us. Some we keep, sometimes improvising and re-creating it as our patterns of life change. Others we discard, knowing that they aren’t right for our souls right now. We choose how to construct rhythms and play with harmonies, weaving a pattern that is true to ourselves.
One of my rituals is the practice of throwing dinner parties. Feeding my friends is fun, and I love to bring people together. Each time I host, I honor the food and flavors that feed my spirit. I invite my guests to share a piece of my soul, whether it is through homemade potstickers, or spicy hot pot. I honor the hospitality and 熱情 that my family passed down – the same hospitality that I see as a deeply scriptural value. Dinner parties are part of my liturgy, the sacred space where I, and my community, encounter the Divine.
Today, I invite you to consider the rituals that shape your own life. What are practices that meaningfully ground you in story, and in the people who came before? What shapes your personal liturgy and rhythms of meeting the God? What rhythms and rituals do you share with your community, or chosen family, that allow you to encounter God together?