My talk from the Eucharist service at our Church yesterday is online here. I selected the image above for this post, in light of that talk. It's The Martyrdom of St. Hippolytus by Dieric Bouts and depicts dismemberment used in the 3rd century.
I took as my text 1 Corinthians 11:18-34, with Paul's instructions and warnings about Eucharist/Communion. In summary, I suggested:
1. Beliefs are embedded in practices:
Most of us need practices to connect beliefs to our character and actions, and eucharist, is a worship act given for that to Christians, in their worship. We know we shouldn't spend money we don't have, yet are trained in shopping, and do it without thinking, such is the power of embedded practices around beliefs. We believe our lives are God's yet often don't 'live' out that belief. Life is about 'memberment', it's just what we are members of that is the issue.
Eucharist is an act of judgement, and participation by Christians in the dismemberment of Jesus. Lives ordered and 'membered' around practices and ways of living other than the body of Jesus are brought to his cross in Eucharist, and judged. We elect to participate in that judgement now, rather than wait for the end of time Judgment.
Like the Corinthian church we are too often 'dis-membered' from the body of Christ due other commitments for life and reality. Maybe our current pride is 'time'. My pressures are more than yours, and I therefore I don't have time to be 'membered' with other Christians, into the body of Christ. Eucharist reveals where we are 'membered' to other thins and brings judgement upon that violently.
To receive Christ is to be dismembered from our false 'memberments', hence the warnings by Paul in this passage. Too often we think there are no consequences to what we give our lives to, but Paul warns us here as does in Romans 8 that there are consequences now and into eternity, as we are joined into 'bodies' and ways of life, other than Jesus.
The 'remembering' of the eucharist, is not the gentle english 'recalling' that the word is often reduced to. It is the 're-memberment', of our lives into a new form of life, the body of Jesus. And we have to have our false bodies dis-membered, for us to be re-membered. In a consumer society where we consume things, eucharist consumes us, and incorporates us into the body of Christ. We eat and drink, as Christ eats and drinks us into his body.