Pizza hut logoWe were tucking into the Super Supreme and the Hawaiian Supreme when no.2 son (Andrew) asked: “Dad what is mid-life crisis?? Interesting that no.2 son should ask this since he is about to turn 15.

Dad went into his Wikipedia mode and tried to explain that somewhere between the ages of 45-60 people tend to be suddenly aware of their mortality. They realize that they are going to die and that they don’t have all the time in the world to pursue their dreams. Indeed some of their dreams may already be realistically unattainable.

No. 2 son said that he was already very aware of death and that this had come home during reflection time at a Christian camp he attended last year. He said he had been moved to tears at the thought of death. (No. 2 son is usually very resilient emotionally.)

Dad moved from Wikipedia mode into dad mode and said that he wasn’t completely surprised. After all Andrew had lost his mum to cancer when he was one year old. And grandpa (my dad) had passed away a little more than two years ago. (God, I miss him.)

No. 1 son (Stephen) tried to lighten the moment a little by talking about quarter life crisis and one-eighth life crisis. No. 2 son did a quick calculation and insisted that he was too old for one-eighth life crisis.

I went on to say that it was good that no.2 son was aware of the reality of death early. It gave the Lord a chance to build his faith early as well.

Talk about your divine timing. We were having our pizza dinner on Holy Saturday. We had just attended a Good Friday service the night before and the next day would be Easter Sunday.

I reviewed the reasons for our hope in the face of death. Jesus died and rose again. Jesus had dealt with the root cause of death, our sins, and had risen from the dead bodily to give clear evidence that death and sin had been conquered. (The Tan family are not Gnostics.)

Dad then reached out for the last bread stick, gave thanks to God for Christ’s body broken for us, broke the bread stick into three and distributed it. We ate the bread stick in remembrance of Christ and His ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

I am sure that I had broken the church rules of any number of denominations. But I couldn’t help but think that maybe this is how the Lord’s Supper really ought to be done — in the context of a real meal, in the midst of real life.

Normally we celebrate holy communion at a special place (the church building) at a special time (worship service) with special elements (tiny pieces of bread, tiny sips of wine/grape juice that disappear in your mouth before they can even be swallowed).

But the early church celebrated their Lord’s supper in a regular place (homes), during a regular time (meal times) with regular food (bread and wine were staples at the Palestinian dinner table and I am sure you could have seconds). [Acts 2: 46-47]

Wofgang Simson summarized the evolution of the Lord’s supper from real meal to ritual well:

Since it is quite difficult to feed a cathedral full of people with real food, (the Lord’s Supper) degenerated into a religious and symbolic ritual, offering microscopic sips of wine and a small wafer, often enough only to the ‘clergy’ while the masses looked on in pious amazement. This meant that the Lord’s Supper was a supper no more, and lost its powerful meaning, the unprecedented, revolutionary reality of a redeemed people, irrespective of class and caste, sharing real food with a prophetic meaning, having dinner with God, expecting His physical presence at any time just like after the resurrection.

It thus became the ‘Eucharist’,a pious and symbolic shell of the original meal of a tasty lamb that Jesus shared with His disciples. By AD 150 the Eucharist and love feast were two distinct parts of the Lord’s Supper. As biblical commentator William Barclay writes: ‘The celebration of the Lord’s Supper in a Christian home in the first century and in a cathedral in the twentieth century cannot be more different, they bear no relationship to each other whatsoever.’ ” [Houses that Change the World, 26-27]

The house church…is a table community, sharing real food. The Lord’s Supper was a substantial supper with a symbolic meaning, not a symbolic supper with a substantial meaning.? [82]

There are further implications of this evolution. It taught that Christianity (and Christ?) was something that happened apart from the realities of daily life. It fed into a view that life was separated into sacred and secular compartments. (There were the real meals and there was the Lord’s Supper.)

Keeping the Lord’s Supper as a real meal would have the opposite effect. It was an invasion of the holy into the ordinary. It would be a reminder that the whole of life was to be sanctified. Imagine the implications for discipleship and evangelism.

Obviously this is a complex discussion that finally touches on all the fundamental questions of Christianity:

What is the Lord Supper? Who are the clergy? What is church? Can you use Pepsi for communion wine?

I don’t know all the answers. I am still trying to identify all the questions. But I will embark on a fresh journey to revisit these fundamental issues of ecclesiology.

I believed something significant happened last Saturday at Pizza Hut. I got to know my children a little better. And I realized afresh that at 15 and at 50, only Christ can meet the deepest needs of our souls. And that somehow all we do should point towards that joyful truth. And that dividing life into sacred and secular compartments doesn’t help.

Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan

PS. No, I didn’t use Pepsi for communion wine. We stopped at the breaking of bread. Could we hold off the ex-communication for now?