By Rick Chromey
From mainstream Starbucks to neighborhood bistros, the local coffee cup has evolved into a symbol of connection, companionship, and community. The coffee experience is about family and friends, because great coffee naturally takes time. The beans must be roasted and ground. The coffee is percolated, heated, and even specially flavored. And, of course, every cup is sipped and savored to the last drop.
Consequently, coffee is the perfect nonalcoholic drink of choice. It’s the ideal beverage for gathering because great community also happens with time. Friendships are grounded and grown. Relationships emerge through connection and communion. In an instant, fast-paced, microwave culture, the human soul hungers to slow and silence, connect and commune, remember and reflect. It’s no wonder many coffeehouses look like living rooms.
If Jesus were to institute the Lord’s Supper in our 21st-century culture, he might prefer coffee to wine as the cultural memorial to his life. After all, in the first century, wine was a common social drink. Like coffee, great wine took time to mature and, consequently, was the centerpiece beverage for meals, marriages, and other special cultural moments.
The Lord’s Supper, as it’s called now, was originally the Passover celebration, a multicourse meal of wine, unleavened bread, lamb, and herbs. Jewish families gathered around supper tables to remember the Egyptian exodus, the messianic Moses, and salvation by blood. The use of wine proved the perfect cultural drink to represent his mission of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.
This ancient “love feast” has become a centuries-old weekly tradition for believers to experience within community. Like coffee and wine, we don’t drink from this cup hastily or consume the bread without right reflection. In fact, in the early church, the Lord’s Supper was no swift snack. Paul reveals to the Corinthian church that some were getting drunk and gorging themselves at this meal (1 Corinthians 11:20-22). He later instructed the Corinthians, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:27, 28).
Like great coffee and fine wine, this cup, symbolizing Jesus’ blood, should be slowly sipped. This bread, which represents Christ’s body, should be digested like a spiritual feast. In this divine opportunity we dine as the body of Christ so we might savor redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.
Rick Chromey is a motivational speaker, writer, and online professor with Hope International University, Fullerton, California.