Monday, August 15, 2016

Reflections on Bonhoeffer’s Life Together – 53

“Ever since Jesus Christ sat at table with his disciples, the community at the table of Christ’s congregation has been blessed by his presence…The Scriptures speak of three kinds of community at the table that Jesus keeps with his own: the daily breaking of bread together at meals, the breaking of bread together at the Lord’s Supper, and the final breaking of bread together in the reign of God. But in all three, the one thing that counts is that “their eyes were opened and they recognized him.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Fortress Press, 2015 (Reader’s Edition), page 46.

“When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight…[after they returned to Jerusalem] They began to related their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread,” (Luke 24:31, 35).

“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,” (Acts 2:46).

Luke, with a physician’s eye for detail, perhaps pondered the similarity of what he wrote in Chapter 24 of his Gospel and Chapter 2 of Acts. Not only is Jesus Christ present in the institution and continuance of the Last Supper in the Upper Room (Luke 22:1-23), but He is also present on the road to Emmaus as well as in those sharing life together in Acts. Furthermore, since Luke was a companion of Paul’s, he may well have considered Paul’s teaching, “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless communion in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break communion in the body of Christ? Since there is one loaf, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread,” (1 Cor. 10:16 – 17). 

God’s people are meant to eat together. When we eat together we love it; we love the time together, we love the food around which we gather, we love the conversation, we love getting to know each other, we love trying dishes from other families, we love the laughter – when we eat together we experience life together. One wonders why we don’t eat together more often, why we don’t do it as a way of life.

When we eat together we testify that we are the people of God, the flock which Jesus Christ has purchased by His blood. When we eat together we announce by our actions that we are family, that we share a common life in Jesus Christ. When we eat together we make time for one another and in making time for one another we declare that our brothers are sisters are important to us, important enough to take time to be with them, important enough to place them above other demands of life, to place them above the demands and expectations and callings of the world. When we gather around a table for a meal we not only partake of the meal, we partake of Christ and of one another and we partake in expectation of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. There is the cacophony of the world, and then there is the melody and harmony of the Kingdom of God – when we gather together with our feet under the King’s table we live in unison with God’s Kingdom and the Kingdom of His Christ, rejecting the world’s chaos, noise, demands, facades, and false promises.

Life together in Christ is implicitly a rejection of life joined to the present age, the present world order. The present age, which is passing away, says, “Live this way!” Life together in Christ says, “No, do not live that way, live in this Way, live together in Christ as one bread, as one body.”

In baptism we explicitly reject the way of the present age, we testify to our death with Christ and our death to the present age; in coming up from the waters of baptism we declare our joint resurrection with Christ and our deliverance from the present age. Just as in drinking from the cup of koinonia we drink not just individually but collectively, so our individual baptism is joined to the baptisms of all saints in all times so that we partake of the one great baptism of death and resurrection, that of Jesus Christ. We are all passing through the Red Sea in Jesus Christ – and if we could see time from eternity we would see not myriad individual crossings of the Red Sea from bondage to redemption, but rather one great people of God in Christ crossing together in Christ, one great multitude which no man can number translated from darkness into the light and life of Jesus Christ.

Such as we are in Christ, so should we live. 

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