Dan Migliore on the Lord’s Supper and Economic Justice

Barth observes an important distinction between what he calls centrifugal and centripetal conceptions of the Christian life (in CD 4.3, I want to say that it’s in the neighborhood of page 575, but I can’t be bothered to walk across my office to check…). The former structures the Christian life as a matter of possession and accumulation of grace (salvation, blessings, spirituality, sense of one's "personal relationship with Jesus" being strong, etc.), whereas the latter structures it in terms of missionary witness. Generally speaking, churches that focus on the Supper as opposed to preaching tend toward a centrifugal rather than centripetal conception. This is not exclusively the case, however, and it is also not necessarily the case. What I like about this following paragraph from Migliore is how he lifts up the important role that the Supper can play in a centripetal conception. The political edge is nice, too…

Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding, 294-5. Emphasis mine.
The Lord’s Supper is therefore also the sacrament of human participation in the divine life by sharing life with each other. As a public, open, joyful, hopeful meal, the Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of a new humanity. Christians cannot eat and drink at the table—where all are welcome and none goes hungry or thirsty—and continue to condone any form of discrimination or any social or economic policy that results in hunger or other forms of deprivation. The Lord’s Supper is the practice of “eucharistic hospitality,” in which strangers are welcomed into the household of God. Christians cannot share this bread and wine while refusing to share their daily bread and wine with the millions of hungry people around the world. There is an intrinsic connection between responsible participation in the Lord’s Supper and commitment to a fairer distribution of the goods of the earth to all its people.
When one remembers this (or makes the connection for the first time), one is rudely shoved toward the conclusion that thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) in the United States who consider themselves to be devoted Christians in fact "eateth and drinketh damnation" to themselves insofar as they fail to "discern" Christ's body. . . .

It never hurts to read 1 Corinthians 11.23-29 and Matthew 25.31-46 together.

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Comments

I love the Migliore quote and affirm what Barth is trying to lift up with his distinction (if I've understood correctly). But I wonder: Must we have such a dichotomy at all? Isn't there something retrievable in the more traditional piety and theology of the Eucharist -- the bits about being fed, about being healed and integrated within one's inner being as well as within the community? Are such values necessarily in conflict with the outward-oriented, missional and social justice dimensions of the meal?
I have some brief comments about this issue throughout my forthcoming book, and especially in the conclusion. ;-P
Okay, I get it. Questions are for free. Answers are for the folks willing to pay ;)
*chuckles

Something like that.

But more like I'm too lazy to bother repeating myself.

Short answer is that I'm fine with all that as long as it is properly ordered.
Fair enough. It's an important corrective you're lifting up -- and very biblical. I guess communion is about the closest the church gets liturgically to pure communism. If we do it right, that is, and not like the Corinthians.

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