The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher
“It’s Easter Sunday. A group of men are in prison. They are part of the more than ten thousand political prisoners in this country’s jails. They wan to celebrate communion, but they have no wine, no bread, no cup, no priest…”We have no bread, not even water to use as wine,” their leader says to them, “but we will act as though we have.”
Such is the nature of the Lord’s Table in Christian practice. In all conditions, in wealth and in want, practiced with liturgical precision or among small groups, the Bread and the Cup were given as a constant reminder of the presence of Christ with His people until the day He returns. Nora Gallagher surveys the thoughts and emotions of those who serve and receive the elements, giving us a glimpse of the complexity of the Eucharist.
At the heart of her writing is Ms. Gallagher’s thread of our common connection. In each approach to the table she emphasizes how participation in communion serves as a binding force, tying you and I together even when have allowed the intrusion of negative influences to drive us apart. This is a biblical truth that is often dismissed. We may not be on speaking terms with one of our ‘brothers’ or angry with a ‘sister’. The manner is which we structure our lives enables us to avoid those we dislike or are in conflict with, separating the idea of a common inheritance given in the Scriptures, and our practice of daily living. Approaching the table, on the other hand, allows us no shadow in which to hide. Whether it be a common cup or the same loaf from which we pull our piece of bread, we cannot escape the fact of our familial heritage.
Many will find Nora’s overly poetic work attractive. Those of a more analytical bent will struggle to find meaning in personal memories and sudden realizations that Ms. Gallagher utilizes to illustrate her points. This is little practical material in this volume, so those seeking methods or liturgy are directed elsewhere. For one who seeks a contemplative consideration of the practice and effect of the Table, The Sacred Meal will be satisfying.
I am grateful to Thomas Nelson for providing this review copy.