After we have taken time to listen and reflect on God’s word through the Liturgy of the Word, we transition to the most important part of why we are gathered. We are gathered here because Jesus said, “Do this in my memory”.
In the tradition of Jesus’ day, remembering wasn’t merely to call something into your memory like you might a doctor’s appointment on the calendar. It was more to re- enact it in such a way that it stimulates the memory. It is not a theatrical production or a play. It is not something to be watched or observed as much as it is an action which requires participation. It is closer to what some athletes are calling muscle memory. Gymnasts, figure skaters, golfers, musicians or anyone performing complex motor functions who do things repetitiously perfect the complex maneuver beyond the brain evaluating every motor function. So too, for the people in Jesus’ day to remember something was to make it real again to the senses through simple repetition. We do this even more so at the Sunday assembly in a way that is reverent and honorable.
Before going any further, I must ask the question, “What is the difference between dining and eating?” Dining of course is more formal. Hopefully it holds a flavor of elegance. And what we communicate when we choose to dine is that the investment in time and energy is worthwhile. Dining requires an investment of who you are. The table not only holds the food you are eating but it also holds the richness of the conversation which is never rushed. People who dine take time to appreciate the meal, the wine, the company and the conversation. Frequently, diners will sit around the table not in a hurry to get the dishes done but to enjoy one another’s company. Ideally, those who invest themselves in the dining experience leave the table feeling nourished emotionally and spiritually as well as physically. Dining strengthens relationships through a sharing of oneself.
Eucharist leans more toward dining. It certainly should never be fast food. And under no circumstances would we want to cheapen it. Like in a dining experience we dress differently. We take time. The table is dressed with a nice table cloth. Candles are lit. The good china is used. And you will notice that this is a deliberate action we do at each of the Sunday assemblies. We sing because our hearts are joyous and singing is a beautiful form of prayer. And finally when the table is prepared, we receive what was brought to the church in the form of our gifts, moving them from the gift table to the table of the Lord. I have numerous comments on this which I’ll save for next week.