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echalon

The "feast": Eucharist, Or More?

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In reading some of the more recent posts on Point 3, I am surprised to see how much of the discussion is based on the Eucharist. When I read Point 3, I gravitate more towards the phrase "God's feast for all peoples". In my understanding, this goes well beyond a symbolic meal and would be more powerfully enacted by sitting down and sharing an actual, sustaining, and social meal with those in need. Not that the symbolic meal is a bad thing, but it is not enough. Is this idea simply unstated, or is this something that's more particular to me?

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Hi echalon,

 

First, welcome to the board. :)

 

Second, I enjoy your thoughts here. A "social meal with those in need" is a beautiful and challenging way of seeing the 'feast of God'.

 

I think TCPC quite consistently and robustly affirms the social dimension of practicing Christianity, so I'd probably wager that it has gone 'unstated' in this instance. I think you are quite right in pointing out that the sacramental function of communion should not be divorced from its practical social realization.

 

Thanks for sharing,

Mike

 

PS Do feel free to introduce yourself in the Introductions forum, if you feel comfortable and so moved, so everyone can welcome you to the board.

Edited by Mike

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I have often wondered about the original meaning of the last supper. I know that some believe that the Bread and Wine actually becomes the body and blood of Christ as in transubstantiation (part of Catholic theology) and others see it as symbolising the body and blood of Jesus.

I have heard that in the past the celebration of Holy Communion was often celebrated with a full meal. I therefore wonder if the blood and wine of the communion was not the crucial meaning of the last supper but the sharing of it was. Thus meaning that the body and blood of Jesus was not the wine and bread but the sharing of the spirit of love for each other.

Anyone have any thoughts on this or know more about history of the celebration?

 

NB// I am sorry but I am away for a few days now but I look forward to checking in when I return. Please do not assume because I have not commented right away that I am not interested in what people have to say. Thanks everyone..

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I don't know this for sure but I think that the earliest Christians met to share their new faith over a meal for which each contributed according to their circumstances. The Eucharist, as Catholics now celebrate it, came rather later. My history is a little vague, but I may have a book that outlines the full history of the Eucharist. If I find it, I'll add more detail.

 

For me, I find that sharing a social meal and discussing our faith is more spiritually enriching to me now then was the Eucharist (when I still attended Catholic mass). I like the idea that we, as Christians, are the body of Christ.

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I remember reading somewhere that the Eucharist is unlikely to have a Jewish origin as eating flesh with blood would be taboo. To even symbolically drink human blood would be even more offensive to Jewish sensitivities (not to mention some very gentile ones). And, there were only Jews in the room.

 

George

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Thanks Yvonne and George. I would love to have the reference of the book you have on the Eucharist. I know with the Quakers we often have a shared lunch in which everyone can contribute but all are welcome if you contribute or not. It feels like a family when we get together. I think there is something spiritual in that experence.

George, I never considered that point but now you mention it is does make sense to me.

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Pete,

 

I read this about the origin of the Holy Eucharist in the March-April 2011 edition of the "Fourth R." It was in an article titled "He Made It Up." the author argues that the Eucharist would have an unlikely origin with a Jewish teacher (Jesus), because of Jewish prohibitions against eating human flesh and drinking of blood (very un-Kosher) and likely has gentile origins.

 

FWIW, I recommend this journal. It is a bi-monthly publication by the Westar Institute which is associated with the Jesus Seminar. It has lots of scholarly articles (but written for a general audience) about New Testament history and theology.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW

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Does it appear similar George?

Pete,

 

Tom Hall's (the author of the article I cited) argument is really pretty simple and the headline summary of the article gives the essense of his case,

 

"It is difficult ot imagine that a Jewish teacher would propose to his Jewish followers a riutal that not only involved eating human flesh but also prescribed a direct violation of the the Torah's prohibition of ingesting blood."

 

George

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A question George (and others). Although I wonder about the origins of the Eucharist and what you say makes sense to me. However, the last supper as the church calls it is found in each of the synoptic gospels and Paul's writings. I believe all the writers were also Jews. How come this did not seem to offend them or did it have another significance to them.

I am not saying that I believe everything "as is" in the bible but it seems to occur in a number of differing places.

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Pete,

 

Good question. Since this occurs in Paul's writings it would be very early in Christianity, not something that developed much later.

 

The argument, as I understand it, is that Paul was marketing to a Greek audience so there was much Greek influence on his theology and practices. Note too that he differed with the Jerusalem church on a number of issues including circumcision and dietary practices. This necessitated a summit meeting of church leaders and led to the compromise reached at the Council of Jerusalem mentioned in Acts 15.

 

Also, it is worth noting that syncretism is not an unusual religious phenomenon. This is common today in Catholicism in South America and Africa.

 

George

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The verses add emphasis to your comment about blood in Acts 15-

 

19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

 

I note that it also says in Wikipedia :-

"Some scholars consider the Lord's supper to have derived not from Jesus' last supper with the disciples but rather from the gentile tradition of memorial dinners for the dead.In this view, the Last Supper is a tradition associated mainly with the gentile churches that Paul established, rather than with the earlier, Jewish congregations.

Luke is the only Gospel in which Jesus tell his disciples to repeat the ritual of bread and wine. Bart D. Ehrman states that these particular lines do not appear in certain ancient manuscripts and might not be original to the text."

from http://en.wikipedia....iki/Last_Supper

But then goes on with the point that tradition has held and re-affirmed this ritual for sometime.

Edited by Pete

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Pete,

 

This raises another question that I have wondered about. Given the dietary restriction in Acts 15, how do fundamentalist Christians justify dietary practices that are decidedly not kosher with regard to meat?

 

George

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I think its a case of (IMO) it not applying to them and they are likely to quote 1 Cor 10:23-31 or Acts 10:9-16. and ignore Acts 15.

I think they are also likely to say that Jesus fufilled the law and they are therefore free of the requirements of the law.

Edited by Pete

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Pete,

 

You may be right. I wonder if the Acts 15 restriction has ever been practiced by Christians (except maybe right after Paul returned from the conference).

 

George

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I know the JW's try to follow the no blood rules but not other rules. I also know according to Galatians chapter 2 that Paul said that he told Peter off for following these rules and yet not following them in Gentile company. It all leaves me confused as to whether Acts 15 was ever followed or how much impact it and the disciples had on Paul.

 

I am away for a few days now. I am going to see my parents who are not doing so well. I may not be near a computer, but I look forward to hearing from you on my return. God Bless. you.

Pete

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This "Origins of the Past supper" wiki entry suggests that there two traditions regarding the Last Supper

John Dominic Crossan suggests that there are two traditions "as old as we can trace them" of the eucharist, that of Paul, reflecting the Antioch Church's tradition, and that of the Didache, the first document to give explicit instruction regarding prayers to be said at a celebration that it called the Eucharist.

 

The cup/bread liturgy of the Didache, from the Jerusalem tradition, does not mention Passover, or Last Supper, or Death of Jesus/blood/body, and the sequence is meal + thanksgiving ritual.

 

http://en.wikipedia....ist#Last_Supper

 

The entry also has two charts showing the development from a simple shared meal to a ritual.

 

For me Communion is very intimate. I prefer intinction. The most moving regular (not a retreat experience) communion was at MCC churches. 6-8 'servers' with both elements and you can go singly or in couples or family groups and if wanted have a time of prayer.

 

Dutch

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PC friends,

 

Having been raised in Roman Catholicism, discussion of the Eucharist comes ‘close to home’ for me. I’ve a sister and brother-in-law who’re deeply involved in the ‘charismatic’ movement therein. The sacramental transubstantiation of the ‘elements’ is a core aspect of their lives. Personally, I moved away from the “literal body and blood” faith tenants long ago.

 

So far in this discussion I haven’t seen reference to the relation of the Last Supper to the Jewish Seder ritual feast marking the beginning of the Passover holiday which would have been scheduled for the following evening. It’s been my understanding that Jesus, knowing of his imminent arrest and execution and wishing to have his last meal with the apostles, arranged to have this Seder one day early.

 

A look at Wikipedia shows how the “order, arrangement” of the meal was a ritualized tradition. One of the ritual themes entailed an obligation to drink four cups of wine during the Seder. At a point in the traditional sequence after the food had been eaten comes the “Grace after Meals”, during which the “Third Cup of Wine” (which “also serves as a Cup of Blessing”) was brought forth.

 

Valuable insights, imo, can be found in the full portrayal of this Last Supper and Jesus’ Farewell Discourse to his apostles in UP 179 & 180. In the section specific (trying to minimize a 'wall of quotes' :rolleyes:) to this cup and the bread, the Urantia Papers quotes Jesus as having said:

 

ESTABLISHING THE REMEMBRANCE SUPPER

 

 

179:5.1 – As they brought Jesus the third cup of wine, the "cup of blessing," he arose from the couch and, taking the cup in his hands, blessed it, saying: "Take this cup, all of you, and drink of it. This shall be the cup of my remembrance. This is the cup of the blessing of a new dispensation of grace and truth. This shall be to you the emblem of the bestowal and ministry of the divine Spirit of Truth. And I will not again drink this cup with you until I drink in new form with you in the Father's eternal kingdom."

 

179:5.3 - When they had finished drinking this new cup of remembrance, the Master took up the bread and, after giving thanks, broke it in pieces and, directing them to pass it around, said: "Take this bread of remembrance and eat it. I have told you that I am the bread of life. And this bread of life is the united life of the Father and the Son in one gift. The word of the Father, as revealed in the Son, is indeed the bread of life."When they had partaken of the bread of remembrance, the symbol of the living word of truth incarnated in the likeness of mortal flesh, they all sat down.

 

179:5.4 In instituting this remembrance supper, the Master, as was always his habit, resorted to parables and symbols. He employed symbols because he wanted to teach certain great spiritual truths in such a manner as to make it difficult for his successors to attach precise interpretations and definite meanings to his words. In this way he sought to prevent successive generations from crystallizing his teaching and binding down his spiritual meanings by the dead chains of tradition and dogma. In the establishment of the only ceremony or sacrament associated with his whole life mission, Jesus took great pains to suggest his meanings rather than to commit himself to precise definitions. He did not wish to destroy the individual's concept of divine communion by establishing a precise form; neither did he desire to limit the believer's spiritual imagination by formally cramping it. He rather sought to set man's reborn soul free upon the joyous wings of a new and living spiritual liberty.

 

179:5.5 Notwithstanding the Master's effort thus to establish this new sacrament of the remembrance, those who followed after him in the intervening centuries saw to it that his express desire was effectively thwarted in that his simple spiritual symbolism of that last night in the flesh has been reduced to precise interpretations and subjected to the almost mathematical precision of a set formula. Of all Jesus' teachings none have become more tradition-standardized.

 

179:5.6 This supper of remembrance, when it is partaken of by those who are Son-believing and God-knowing, does not need to have associated with its symbolism any of man's puerile misinterpretations regarding the meaning of the divine presence, for upon all such occasions the Master is really present. The remembrance supper is the believer's symbolic rendezvous with Michael. When you become thus spirit-conscious, the Son is actually present, and his spirit fraternizes with the indwelling fragment of his Father.

 

Enjoy, and be well blessed,

Brent

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When I participated in a Seder as the Last Supper the 4th cup was called the Elijah Cup and it was suggested that Jesus might be understood to be using this cup, implying that he was a new Elijah, and the afikomen piece of matzo as the dessert so that the Disciples would always have a taste of the shared meal with Jesus - until the next. Such a reading suggests then that Communion is based in a Passover meal with Jesus asking them to associate the Elijah Cup and the afikomen with him.

 

Does John avoid an account of the Passover because of an anti-Jewish leader bias?

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It seems very plausible to me that the Last Supper arose out of a real historical event which did involve a Passover Seder celebrated by Jesus and his disciples. Then, when exposed to Hellenistic culture, the ritual acquired some of the symbolic aspects of eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus.

 

George

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The Mithraic cult/religion was widespread throughout the areas where Paul of Tarsus carried his form of 'Paulinity'. Perhaps Paul was willing to make ritualistic compromises (eating the flesh of a Christ as a substitution for the sacrificial bull, wine for blood, etc.) with adherents of Mithraism in order to 'convert', intending thereby to accelerate the growth of early Christianity. Just a thought...

 

Brent

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The Mithraic cult/religion was widespread throughout the areas where Paul of Tarsus carried his form of 'Paulinity'. Perhaps Paul was willing to make ritualistic compromises (eating the flesh of a Christ as a substitution for the sacrificial bull, wine for blood, etc.) with adherents of Mithraism in order to 'convert', intending thereby to accelerate the growth of early Christianity. Just a thought...

 

Brent

I guess that would seem possible considering 1 Corithinians 9:19-23

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. NIV

 

But then Paul was also said to be against participating in other faiths. 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.

14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

18Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he? NIV.

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