Eucharist as Appetizer

When our local church gathering ended this week, Emily turned to me and said she was hungry. Maybe that’s not that strange – our church ends about 12:15, just in time for lunch, but it’s not particularly normal for either of us. I theorized that the piece of bread for communion may have had an appetizer effect, telling our bodies it is time to eat and making us hungry.

Later in the day, the analogy kept hanging around in my head. Maybe it’s not that deep of a thought and really it isn’t much different than the language of sacrament used in much of the Church, but with different language in a way I hadn’t thought about it before.

The Eucharist (Communion/Lord’s Supper) is an appetizer for the Kingdom. It is a small taste of the Kingdom, this meal where all who choose to partake are invited to do so. It is a radical act of unity in a broken world, particularly on weeks like this one which celebrated Worldwide Communion Day.

And yet, it is just an appetizer. It should get us excited, in soul and in body, to taste more and more of this Kingdom. It should motivate us to eat more, and to feed it to others. We don’t stop at the Eucharist and walk away full. Maybe that’s an argument for the tiny pieces of bread and little cups – we should be left craving more of this Jesus and his Kingdom.

If we walk out of church and feel completely satisfied, I think we’ve missed the point. I’ve often heard the idea that a weekly worship gathering is a good chance to recharge and be ready to get back to following Jesus in every aspect of your life. In some senses I think that’s true. Gathering together should be invigorating, or “edifying” to use one of those words I never hear anywhere but in churches. But then in another sense, I don’t think it’s healthy to think in distinct give/take terms like taking enough on Sunday to sustain me to give all week.

Maybe the appetizer analogy is a healthier understanding. It isn’t about being sufficiently fed, which a tiny piece of bread cannot do. It is about reminding us what a good meal looks like: Jesus. Enjoy that small taste of Jesus’ metaphorical body on Sunday morning, then keep embodying Jesus the rest of the week.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.