Thursday, January 29, 2015

Consumption, Communion, and Caring for the Least of These


All across our country people are preparing for this upcoming Sunday. Mainly they’re preparing for Super Bowl Sunday by buying super amounts of food! Economists estimate that over $55 million worth of food will be purchased in the next few days. All that money buys us among other things, 20 million pounds of chips, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn, and get this, 12 million pounds of avocados. The only other day we Americans eat more food than Super Bowl Sunday is Thanksgiving. Fortunately, much like Thanksgiving Day, we will not be attempting this marvelous feat of consumption alone - according to Hallmark Cards, the Super Bowl, is the #1 night for in home parties all year long, outdoing another festive holiday, New Year’s Eve.

At my church, Southland Baptist Church, we are also making preparations for this Sunday that also involve a bit of food. Last night our children baked the bread that we will use in our Communion service. While we primarily know the Lord’s Supper as a ritual we do at church in a very solemn manner at very set times, in the early days of the church, it may have looked more like what will be going on in our homes Sunday night. No, there wouldn’t be a football game, and I’m not sure they had guacamole in the first century. But there would have been a gathering of family of friends in someone’s house, and there would have been a meal.

This gathering would include singing, reading of scriptures, prayer, probably a reading of one of Paul’s or another apostle’s teaching, and almost certainly a meal which would come to be known as an “agape meal” or love feast. Think of it as a weekly pot luck. Far from being a separate, ritualized affair, church history tells us that the Lord’s Supper most likely occurred either during or after this agape meal. If there were leftovers, they would be distributed to the poor. Later, as the meal became more of a ceremony and less of a meal, the distribution of leftovers was replaced by a monetary collection for those in need.

We continue this practice at my each time we observe the Lord’s Supper by taking up an offering for World Hunger. Other churches take up a collection for their own benevolence ministry during their Communion services. What a difference it might make if this upcoming Sunday if we gave to the poor that which we intended to spend on junk food? Our waistlines and our neighbors would both thank us for this very different kind spending in preparation for the big game.

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need – Acts 4:33-35

-----

Read more on this topic:

  1. Texas Baptist Hunger Offering – See one of the ways Texas Baptist churches care for the needy around the world.
  2. 49 Things You Need to Know About Super Bowl XLIX – OK, you don’t really need to know these things, but this Forbe’s article contains a lot of fun facts about this year’s game.
  3. Souper Bowl of Caring - Nationwide, youth-led effort which encourages people to give one dollar while leaving worship services on Super Bowl Sunday.


No comments: