The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

When my first, very small book, was published, I had to learn that not everyone would like the book. People had different reasons; from dislike and disagreement to indifference. However, you soon learn and have to accept that if you put your personal thoughts into print and make it public you have willingly opened yourself to other people’s response and opinions. You also have to remember that people are speaking about what they have read and the content of the book, not about YOU or who you are as a spouse, parent, friend etc.

I say this because as I read this book for  review for Thomas Nelson I knew it would be a very unfavorable review. What I am going to say is about the content of the book, not about the person.

This book is the authors experience and reflection on Holy Communion. It is almost a spiritual journal.

The problem is that it is theologically awful. Her understanding of God the Father, Jesus Christ, Communion and the gospel cannot be called historic Christianity. It is not what scripture teaches on these issues.

As a Priest in the Episcopal Church I really cannot endorse the views in this book.

Gallagher’s view of Communion is something “devised cleverly by and for human beings, to help us get in touch with the Holy.”

Devised by human beings? I think not. Communion and it’s practice comes from God himself, Jesus Christ, God as a human being, illustrating to his disciples the night before his death the significance of what is about to happen, and for this reason we are to remember it.

Gallagher’s view is that Jesus’ words, “Do this in remembrance of me” was meant to be taken “by the disciples and everyone who came after him to remember what they had together. What they made together. What it meant to be together.”

No, that is not what it means. The words are not meant to be a call to the benefit of community. It is about the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world; by the breaking of his body and shedding of his blood to free us from the dominion of sin.

More worrisome is her assertion about sin. She says that there is “too much focus on personal sin and especially sin having to do with sex… Sin has to be about larger matters, Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time talking about personal conduct (obey the commandments was his general rule); his teachings were more about justice.”

I am sorry, but the Sermon on the Mount is about personal conduct. Matthew 19 is about how we act with others and conflict resolution. There are so many more examples, but I’ll stop there.

Finally, I believe Gallagher’s view of who can take communion is unbiblical. She says that “Communion is so important to me that I don’t think there should be rules about who can take it and who cannot… [And then, speaking in terms of feeding people in a soup kitchen where no questions are asked about who the person is or what they have done before they are fed she says] “It was not up to us to ask questions and be the judges of who should be fed. And this is true for communion as well. Jesus practiced a radical faith: everyone was welcome at his table.”

Really? Really? Yet scripture says “for the one who eats [the bread] and drinks [the cup] without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself” (1 Corinthians 11:29).

There is a complete lack of the gospel message in this book. Jesus, Gallagher asserts, is a person of compassion, acceptance and the upholder of justice – which is true. But there is no mention of the other side of Jesus’ message – that people MUST repent or experience darkness and the gnashing of teeth. This Jesus says that one not dressed correctly for the wedding banquet will be thrown out. If you are unprepared, like the 5 unwise virgins, you will not be known by Jesus. The point of Jesus’ ministry – of the incarnation – is to show people that they are trapped in sin, in a darkness which will destroy them –  but there is good news. If people repent, turn to Christ, confess their sins, and give their entire lives to Jesus they will find the love and reconciliation of the Father in Heaven and the promise of eternal life.

I do not recommend this book.

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Speaking on Marriage

I recently was asked to go and speak at one of the local episcopal churches. Trinity Episcopal Church is a great church, pastored by two friends who are passionate for Jesus and the gospel – Rob Sturdy and Iain Boyd. Click on their names to check out their blogs.

Anyway, for anyone interested (mom!) here is the link to the video of the talk:

Marriage

Daniel Chapter 1 – part 1

There was a survey done in England about teenagers and cell phones. They took ten teenagers and took away their cell phones for one week.

What do you happened? Their lives degenerated into chaos. They were unable to communicate with each other – they did not know where to meet each other – their lives literally fell apart.

They would arrange meeting places and meeting times only minutes before they got together – sometimes changing the meeting place or time by text.  Their life was so flexible that without a cell phone you would be unable to know where your friends were going to meet.

They had come to rely completely upon their cell phones – much more than they thought.

This got me thinking – What would happen if we had no computers, or if televisions stopped working – what would we do.

Think about the times when the power goes out, maybe in the middle of your favorite show. How do you feel when there is no power in your house. Helpless – frustrated – nothing works, no tv, no internet, no air, no lights. We kinda grind to a halt and wait for the power to come back.

We have become reliant upon things haven’t we.

But what about our faith in Jesus.

What do we rely on for our faith? What keeps our faith going?

For some of us its youth group – for others it’s the Bible – for others it’s social events – friends – family – church – trips – music – diocesan events.

What would happen to our faith in Jesus Christ – to our Christianity – if we were not allowed to read our Bible, or to go to Church or to go to youth group or to any diocesan events?

Would we be able to sustain our faith for the next 25 years?

Would we be able to still know God, worship God, pray to God and recite scripture and grow in our faith without church, youth group, a bible, devotionals, worship music, Christian videos? What would happen if all the props of Christianity were removed from our life?

What would happen if everything was stripped away and all that was left was US and our RELATIONSHIP with God.

Would we discover that actually our faith in God is tied up with needing a Bible, to going to youth group, to going to church or going to Camp or having devotionals, or listening to music. Might we discover that these extra props of our life as a Christian have become  the source of our faith rather than tools of our faith.

This is exactly the question that Daniel discovered when his country was attacked and taken over by Babylon.

Daniel was suddenly faced with a life where everything he had relied upon religiously was gone – his temple was gone – his ritual was gone – his sacrifices was gone – his way of life and daily devotions were gone as was his freedom!!

Not only that, but Daniel’s whole world had been shaken because when Babylon defeated Israel – it appeared to have defeated God – Yahweh. A smashed Israel equated with a smashed Yahweh.

In Daniel’s day when a country beat another country the underlying message was – “My god has beaten your god – nanananana”. If your country prospered then your god was strong – if your country did not propser and was weak then so was your god.

He had to wear new cloths – he was given a new name and he was in a place where all trace of his belief and faith were GONE!!

He was an insignificant minority in a culture that saw his belief system as a waste of time.

How would our faith hold up to that?

That’s what Daniel and his friends faced as they were force out of their country into a new life.

But Daniel discovered something about God as he began to live away from everything he had known – he came to realize that God was a God 2 Go God. That God was able to exist outside the temple, outside the ritual, outside the daily devotions.