Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’ After he had said this, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.
This passage struck me during this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services which, you may remember, were based on material produced by the Churches in Malta – the island where the ship that Paul and others were on ran aground. It is not clear whether this action was regarded by Paul as equivalent to Communion; possibly it was not – just as the better-known story of the two disciples at Emmaus at the end of Luke’s Gospel probably was not. But probably we would not have regarded the actions of the Christians at Corinth as a Communion – as Paul did not (see Monday’s Reflection). But it was an act of Thanksgiving (which is what the Greek word ‘Eucharist’ means); even more it was an act of Faith, since they threw the wheat overboard after they had finished.
God of all times and places, give us grace to see our everyday meals, for which we should always give you thanks, as signs of your presence with us in all we do; and may we remember in the humblest things of life, what you have done for us in Jesus Christ out Lord. Amen.
The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge.