Day 3 of the Mean Bean Challenge, and although I am certainly more tired, I am strangely more aware. Today I have been thinking about what Paul means when he says “unworthy manner.”
When Paul speaks to the church in Corinth about the Lord’s Supper, (before he writes the bit we read out at Communion services) he list the reasons that the Corinthians were sharing the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner”. The reason that their gatherings “do more harm than good” (1 Corinthians 11:17).
- There are “divisions” among the people (v18), a hierarchy that for Paul just does not belong at Jesus’ table.
- People are having their own “private suppers”, so not everyone shares the same (v21).
- There is an abuse of the bread and wine, as “one person remains hungry while another gets drunk” (v21)
Paul describes a church whose communion practices are out of control and completely at odds with the Jesus’ remembrance meal that Paul knew. There was a hierarchy, a lack of awareness of each other and of what the purpose of their gathering was. Paul brings them into sharp focus. “The Lord’s supper is not your usual patronage meal. So stop treating it like one.”
Could the “unworthy manner” have to do with not being aware that Jesus is present when we share the bread and wine (different traditions interpret that presence in different ways) and that the bread and wine is meant to be shared with everyone? Maybe our priority should be in ensuring others are invited to the table and fed?
I’ll continue to reflect on this tomorrow – day 4 – as I think about “discerning the body of Christ”.
Thank you for joining me on this journey.