I didn’t grow up in a church tradition that valued Communion as a regular practice. Instead, communion was an event, saved for a few special times a year. Like the family’s fancy china dishes, Communion was ensured to be special by its infrequent use. In The Sacred Meal, Nora Gallagher calls us to a different way to see Communion—as a spiritual practice that transforms us, forming us into the people of God and sending us out into the world to serve.
Gracefully reflecting on the practice of Communion in her life, Gallagher walks the reader through a threefold path of practicing Communion: waiting, receiving, afterward. In waiting, we prepare ourselves to enter into the practice of Communion, examining how we have lived-or not lived-in the reality of the present kingdom of heaven. In receiving, we open ourselves up to the presence of God, not through our effort, but by simply accepting the gift of God. In afterward, we allow the experience of Communion to seep into every aspect of our lives.
The Sacred Meal is a fine addition to Ancient Practices Series. It does not address every element of the history or theology of Communion. There is, of course, much more to be said. But Gallagher’s reflections have enlarged my practice of this most sacred of meals. Thanks, Thomas Nelson, for the review copy.