Subversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination during the First Century

Subversive Meals

My first awareness of the Lord’s Supper was attending a church event on a Sunday afternoon. No one had cleaned up after morning worship and communion cups were still in their holders. I looked at the small glass, turned to my church-raised friend, and asked, “Do you do shots during church?”

At the moment, that was all I could imagine. If I had only known the origin of that “meal” was far more subversive than that!

Since all meals in the Roman Empire were political as well as social functions, what political function did the Lord’s Supper serve? This book seeks to offer an answer.

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Every week we come together for worship. We sing songs, but the songs themselves can’t be the focus of why we come together. We pray prayers, but those prayers are addressed to God, so prayer itself cannot be the focus of why we come together. Every week the Bible is opened and the word of God is applied to our lives and our needs through a sermon, but the sermon—no matter how wonderful—is not the center of why we come together.

It’s only at the table, though The Lord’s Supper, that we are drawn to encounter the living Christ in our lives and in our fellowship. It is essential for us to understand that communion is the culmination of everything we do when we come together. And it’s from the table, that we extend grace and fellowship to each other.

Communion sits at the center of our worship.

Some time ago we conducted a poll of our attendees to determine what they saw as most important to our worship and fellowship. It’s not surprising, but I do find it delightfully affirming, that the resounding response was that communion is the most important thing we do.

While that response pleases me it also reminds me that we need to take communion seriously. We need to teach it responsibly. We need to never let any other element of our time together take our focus off of our encounter with the living Jesus in the bread and cup we share.