November 6, 2006


Category: Family :: Permalink

C. S. Lewis writes:

There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God.  God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature.  That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.  We may think this rather crude and unspiritual.  God does not: He invented eating.  He likes matter.  He invented it….  I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure, were bad in themselves.  But they were wrong.  Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body — which believes that matter is God, that God Himself once took on a human body, and that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty, and our energy (Mere Christianity, pp. 65, 92).

Yesterday’s sermon was on Genesis 1:1.  As I introduced the liturgy, I borrowed from these quotations from Lewis and spoke about God’s delight in matter.  The Lord’s Supper is a great “No” to gnosticism.  Contrary to some theologians who seem to think that the Supper is just an aid to our memories and that the real benefits of the Supper come through the ideas in our minds, Jesus tells us simply to do this ritual as His memorial.  And when we do it together, when we eat this physical bread and drink this physical wine together with our physical brothers and sisters, God uses that meal to nourish us on Christ’s real body and blood so that we share together in His life.

So enjoy it, I told the congregation.  Don’t shut your eyes and concentrate on trying to generate the right ideas in your minds.  Taste the bread.  Feel the burn of the wine on your tongue.  Look at the people around you.  Enjoy this meal.  And in this physical way, God will give you the life of Christ.

I gave thanks for the bread, broke it, and was just getting ready to distribute it, when a voice came from the back of the church — the voice of my daughter, in fact, — and it said: “Mmm… yummy!”

“Yes, Aletheia,” I said.  “You’re right.  “It is yummy.”  And then I passed the bread and we ate together. 

Posted by John Barach @ 4:41 pm | Discuss (2)

2 Responses to “Yesterday”

  1. Andy Packer Says:

    Great quote!

  2. dan glover Says:

    It is easy to see how the current Evangelical “mere memorial” or symbol view of the Supper could have found its beginning in the type of thinking represented by the Puritan quotes you link to. I know of some Evangelicals who honestly believe it is wrong for Christians to be baptized or take the Lord’s Supper (and they do some pretty fancy eisegesis to justify it) since that shows a lack of faith in the spiritual realities taking place that these signs are merely reminders of. “I don’t need a reminder”, one former pastor told me. “Jesus means so much to me I don’t need bread and wine to remind me of his death.” But Jesus said we do need it and commanded us to keep this meal. I know of countless other Evangelicals who would never say as much but who practically treat the Lord’s Supper and Baptism as optional, since in their words, “it is not necessary for salvation”. Individualist, Minimalist, Gnostic Christianity. I’m with Lewis. Please pass the bread.

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