the economics of communion

I mentioned in a previous post that to participate in the Lord’s Supper is to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; a clear and important political statement.

I was reading another essay the other day that shone another light on the Lord’s Supper, that “the Eucharist relates to the practices of economics.” According to Paul, the author of the essay argues,

[the Eucharist] emerges as an educative practice in which a sign we call the “body” mediates between the historical memory of the physical body of Christ, tortured to death, and the body of believers called to become an alternative community, a new inclusive body that challenges the bodily disciplines of society.

… From the word go, when we first encounter the Eucharist in the Church, therefore, there is a direct link between debt remission, the elimination of poverty and celebration of the Eucharist.

… Rooted in the Eucharist, in invocation of the God of life, Christians oppose the process [of globalization], urging in its place policies of mutual accountability, of just sharing of common ownership and non-hierarchical forms of power.
[Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, p. 351-352]

Wow.

I’ve shared before that I never had the opportunity to participate in the Eucharist growing up, and when I first did I was under the impression that it was partaken as a reminder of what God has done for us through Christ on the cross, namely the forgiveness of sins and a promise of life in Heaven for those who believe.

I had no idea that communion was so much more than that. I have been learning that communion is a deeply political statement; a public display of the City of God in the midst of another city that is passing away, a way for Christians to subvert the dominant empires of our day and declare the Christ alone is Lord. And now, I see that communion is an act through which we demonstrate a new understanding of economics. A kingdom economic is defined by mutual accountability, common ownership and non-hierarchical forms of power leading to the elimination of poverty and justice for the oppressed.

We take the bread and the cup as a symbol of our sharing in the mission of Christ and his Kingdom, and to declare that we will live in a way that embodies an alternative community in this world, one that is not captive to the powers of consumerism and globalization.

Have I mentioned that I love this Christian ethics stuff?

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    • Sara
    • March 6th, 2008

    19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
    20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is apoured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
    Lk 22:19-20 (NASB)

    I don’t have a whole lot of education in this area but I tend to think it’s just that simple. “Do this in remembrance of me.” I don’t understand why it has to be complicated by politics and economics.

    As Christians, the mission of Christ becomes our mission the moment we decide to follow him. With that we face political and economic issues…

    The eucharist is for the purpose of remembrance. Is it not?

    Maybe I’m just thinking a little too simplistically on this but I don’t think Jesus meant for it to be complicated.

  1. Thanks for the comment, Sara. I apologize if these posts seem to be, in some way, complicating the significance of the Eucharist. That, of course, is not my intention.

    I 100% agree that it is about remembering Christ. The question then becomes, though, what exactly is it that we are remembering?

    I would say that we are, in part, a) remembering that Christ has broken his body and shed his blood, b) remembering that Jesus Christ is the one true Lord [a deeply political statement] and c) remembering that as his followers, we are mean to present an alternative way of living to the world defined by sharing and community [a deeply economic statement in the face of the powers that dominate the landscape today].

    Yes, there is simple beauty to taking the bread and the cup, but I’m finding that it is a much richer experience when I can put it into a contect that goes beyond my own self.

    Hope that clarifies where I am coming from.

    Good luck with the papers!

    • Sara
    • March 6th, 2008

    Clarification appreciated.

  1. March 12th, 2008

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