Unpublished: Wasting the Body and Blood of Jesus

If the elements of the Lord's Supper, bread and wine, represent--symbolically (Protestants) or actually (Catholics)--the body and blood of Jesus then we should note that the body and blood of Jesus was given and broken and poured out for us unconditionally, while we were yet sinners. Isn't that, at root, what the Lord's Supper symbolizes?

If so, to exclude "sinners" from the body and blood of Jesus--his outpouring love--and reserve it for the "saints" seems to set into motion a legalism that I worry about.

The body and blood of Jesus was poured out on Calvary for the whole world as Jesus says "Father forgive them." That is what is celebrated at the Lord's Supper, the wild, wasteful love of God poured out upon an unrepentant, ignorant and violent humanity. You don't put gatekeepers around that. You don't put Keep Out signs around the sacred wounds of Jesus.

Let us not worry about wasting the blood of Jesus upon the blind, deaf and dumb for the blood of Jesus is eternally, profanely and foolishly wasted upon the world. The blood of Jesus was not collected to be doled out to an elite group of spiritual insiders. The blood of Jesus fell upon--it was split--and soaked into the earth. His blood was given away to all, to be cherished, ignored or wasted.

--from an unpublished post exploring arguments for open communion

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10 thoughts on “Unpublished: Wasting the Body and Blood of Jesus”

  1. I love this! I'm a Presbyterian and we put great stock in "understanding". So, questions are often asked about whether a child or a person with mental disabilities can "understand" what is going on with communion. As if any of us really understand this great mystery of grace and love.

  2. One question to ask, I think, is: Would you make this argument in an area or era where Christians are persecuted? Where people's religious faith can be a dangerous fact of life?

    As a friend of mine points out: every person, except one, at the table of the Last Supper was murdered.

  3. If you can tolerate another reference to the work of NTW, I've gotta say that his _Paul and the Righteousness of God_ presents a massively satisfying account of [Paul's understanding of] the work of Jesus in which this unpublished post would feel right at home. NTW takes Paul's #1 agenda to be the unity of humans in Christ, with the table being the central symbolic praxis (his term, not mine). And so Galatians 3:28 is not just out there floating freely as a "wild card," to be used indiscriminately to further this or that pseudo-egalitarian political agenda; it is a statement of unity at Jesus' table as a way of understanding how the "Messiah-people" (again, his term, not mine) are to live with one another.

  4. My church practices a form of closed communion, and I'm ambivalent about it. In the context of non-sectarian, culturally-hegemonic Christianity, it makes a lot of sense for a church to use it as a tool to critique the identification of Caesar with Jesus. That can also be true in the context of a sectarian, culturally-hegemonic Christianity, but its use can easily become petty.

    The U.S. is departing those contexts.

  5. Wonderful! This was my sermon last week from Luke 22. Simon the political zealot took communion. Matthew, the political puppet did too. And the angry sons of thunder. And Peter, even though he would deny Christ just a short while later. And even Judas. What??? Judas??? And then we try to sort through who should and should not participate?

    Have you done a post on Christ's utterance of forgiveness from the cross? I have looked but haven't found one. It seems that Christ even forgives those who are sinning and don't know it. Whether or not they ask ask for it.

  6. It's interesting how, Pharisee-like, we take Paul's admonition to the Christians in Corinth to "examine yourselves" (I Corinthians11:28) to mean "examine everyone else", i.e., take control of the Table and fence it: check out the diners, make sure they're theologically sound/denominationally correct, properly baptized/suitably catechized, duly pious/morally pure, etc., etc. And how ironic that the soul-searching Paul has in mind is not only personal, not policing, it is also essentially about social/economic prejudice, in the Corinthian context the prejudice the rich have about the poor, the way they use communal meal to isolate, humiliate, and oppress. The table-fellowship of Jesus during his ministry -- and the very words of Jesus at the Last Supper in Mark 14:22 echo his words at the Feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6:41 (Jewish context) and the 4,000 in Mark 8:6 (Gentile context) -- inclusive or what! (and check out Paul's similar words in Acts 27:35 -- on a multi-cultural/religious ship!) -- suggests a Lord who is not the least fastidious about food or scrupulous about the people who eat it. But then it is the Lord's Supper, not the Church's.

  7. the blood and the wine and the bread is bullshit and cannibalistic. it's fucking bullshit.

  8. make sense. my mother's making too much noise right now and it's all your fault.

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