Monday, April 4, 2011

The Sacred Meal ~ A Book Review

Nora Gallagher's "The Sacred Meal" is part of The Ancient Practices Series by Thomas Nelson Publishing.  I was excited to receive this book, as Communion is a meaningful part of my faith experience.  Going to the table each time and remembering the sacrifice Christ made for me, thinking of how the disciples must have felt when they learned that the last supper would be their last meal together with Christ before he was crucified. Gallagher shares her own personal communion experiences and feelings during communion, but if you are searching for a theological perspective, there isn't much of that.  I did enjoy the read and Gallagher makes some good points, but I was hoping for a little bit more.

Gallagher talks about communion as being more than a practice involving only you and God, it is also about the church community coming together as one, recognizing the sacrifice Christ made for all of us.  "Holy Communion was a web, a web of people being stitched together.  And tomorrow, we would need to be stiched together again."   She sees communion as a 3 part practice: waiting, receiving and afterward.  In waiting, we usually participate in  group or solo prayers of confession.  We are thinking of our sins and sinful nature and asking for God's forgiveness.  We may also think about forgiving those who have wronged us.  Gallagher explains that receiving is not something that many of us are trained to do.  We have difficulty receiving something for no reason, something we don't deserve or can't earn.  We have been taught to work hard for what we get.  "By making our greatest and most important goal the one of productivity, we miss out on the ways that God's gifts of grace come to us by doing nothing."  Afterward we sit and reflect on what we have experienced, how God has touched our lives or spoken to us through communion.  We may want to talk with others about what God is doing in our lives. 

In the United Methodist Church ,we have an Open Table.  We invite all who have professed a faith in Christ to join us at the communion table.  Gallagher reminds us that Jesus loved an open table.  "One of the many radical things Jesus did was to sit down and eat with people who were on the lowest rungs of society."  In ancient Jerusalem many religious leaders lived by purity codes.  Foods or habits were classified as pure or unpure.  People were classified sinners, untouchables, outcasts.  Jesus did not live this way.  He invited all of us to his table. 

I would recommend this book to those interested in reading about Gallagher's communion experiences and reflecting upon your own communion experience. 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program.

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