Psalm 132-134 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
“So my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. Anyone who is too hungry should eat at home so that in meeting together you will not bring God’s judgment on yourselves. I will tell you what to do about the other things when I come.” (1 Corinthians 11:33-34 NCV)
I’m not sure how the Corinthians celebrated the Lord’s Supper. It appears from this passage that the church celebrated a fellowship meal and called it the Lord’s Supper. Only the sharing wasn’t mutual because those who didn’t have to work showed up early, ate their food and were in great spirits by the time the poor folks who worked arrived. The rich had been able to bring a beautiful seven course meal, the poor working stiffs picked up a bucket of chicken at KFC as they headed straight to church after work. By the time they’d found their place at the table, some of the early arrivals picked through the new food at the entrée table and all that was left for the poor guy was a couple of wings. Paul made it clear, though, that they shouldn’t embarrass the poor people among them and that they should wait to start the “covered dish” celebration until everyone had a chance t show up. Then, he instructed them in understanding the purpose behind the Lord’s Supper – instructions many still use today.
I have some sympathy with those who were poor and had to show up late for these fellowship meals. It’s not that we’re poor, it’s that our church fellowship meals usually happen on Sundays. My wife is tired from interpreting during the morning worship time. I lead a Bible Study in the middle of the afternoon and the result is that we’re either too tired, or don’t have enough time to cook anything decent. We show up to the elaborate spread of amazing meals with something store-bought. It would be easy for people in the church to embarrass us. “You brought that? Everyone worked so hard to cook something wonderful and you bought a tub of potato salad?” Paul’s point to the Corinthians is true today. If you’re going to have a fellowship meal, do it at a convenient time for all, and wait a bit for people who might need to be late. Don’t be a glutton and take all the good stuff if you’re first in line. But here’s the key: if you’re observing the Lord’s Supper – whether it be as part of a fellowship meal, or a special part of the worship service, remember that we are proclaiming the Lord’s death for us, and His promised return. There’s nothing more humbling than realizing that Jesus died for me. The truth is that rich and poor develop a relationship with God the same way: through the blood of Jesus Christ. Just as we’re equal in God’s eyes, we should be treated equally in the church. At the same time, there’s nothing more inspiring than realizing that Jesus gave us the command to proclaim His love and grace to all until He comes again. If we focused on serving God before serving ourselves, we’d see a much more powerful Church.
Lord, whether I’m eating and drinking, observing the memory of Your death in the Lord’s Supper, or just going about the things of every day life, let all that I do proclaim Your glory and love. Let me proclaim the death of Jesus that gives me grace and forgiveness. Let me proclaim His resurrection and His power over death. And let me look forward to His return with joy because of my faithfulness.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.