John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
V.52 asks a great question, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” You gotta admit, in this passage Jesus sounds like the leader of a strange cannibalistic cult. Eat flesh? Drink blood? In fact this rumor of cannibalism was one of the reasons for the persecution of Christians in the early years of the church.
There are other teachings of our faith that seem strange to outsiders. Most gods of the world require people to offer sacrifices to them. In God’s case he sacrificed his own son for us. That’s like the practice of sacrifice in reverse. Then Jesus died like a common criminal. Humiliated. An unbeliever might think that if our God wouldn’t save his own son Jesus, why would he save us? There are more strange ideas that are part of our Christian faith, but you get the idea. I’ve become so familiar with the strange elements of our faith I forget how perplexing they really are to the uninitiated.
That said I’m so grateful for the practice of holy communion in the worship life of our church. When I ask people what they have missed most about worshipping in person they often say “communion”. It’s not that virtual communion isn’t meaningful, it’s just different than sharing the sacrament in the context of the larger community.
56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
Lord, let it be so. Amen.