Communion is a mysterious ritual, which I always believed had to do with remembrance, nothing more. However, in “The Sacred Meal,” Nora Gallagher explains communion and how the process relates to our everyday lives, using her own as an example. It is written as a memoir that teaches, giving emotional insight to the process.
I started reading this book with some ulterior motives – communion felt like just another part of church and I wanted to know what it should feel like. Gallagher explains what reaction communion should elicit in us by showing its impact in our daily lives. She honestly discusses her own challenges, faults, and doubts, fitting them into the communion framework.
She simplifies communion into three main elements: the waiting, the receiving, and what comes after. As opposed to just another part of church, she says the practice of communion helps us “stay awake” in our faith and work “the muscle of our soul.” (57)
“The Sacred Meal” is a book you can read without having to have a concordance or dictionary close at hand, which makes it great for those who want to understand communion emotionally. Her style is accessible (again, memoir-style) and surprised me with its readability. However, the chapters are fairly free-associative; I often had to step back and try to remember how the chapter got where it was.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the emotional side of communion and what role we have to play in taking it (contrary to my thinking, it’s not just ‘sit and think about Jesus dying and be grateful.’) It challenges, but doesn’t accuse the reader of being wrong or insist that there is only one way to be Christian. I have mixed feelings about her theology, but there are concepts I whole-heartedly agree with.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com review bloggers’ program. I was not required to write a positive review, and these opinions are mine.