The Sacred Meal is one of the eight books in the Ancient Practices series from Thomas Nelson. When I received this book, I thought it would be a book that focused heavily upon the theology and deep meaning of the Last Supper. I was sadly disappointed to find that it was not.
Instead I found the book to be more of a series of reflections on communion. The author, Nora Gallagher has served communion in the Episcopalian church where she attends countless times. She uses these experiences to point readers to the togetherness of communion. On page 24 she takes the words of Christ’s “Do this in remembrance of me…” and adds more to them. “Remember me, remember who you were with.” She sees the Lord’s supper as inspired by the meals our Lord had with others, rather then the symbolism of his redemption.
She holds the viewpoint that no one should be restricted from taking communion. I cannot say that I agree with her, as I have always seen communion as something for believers in Christ. She tries to prove that because Christ accepted everyone with asking if they believed in him that everyone should be allowed to partake in the Lord’s Supper. (page 92) I feel that is out of context. This is an example of one of the points in this book where the words and actions of Christ are taken out of context.
I was very disappointed with the theological inconsistencies I found in the book. On page 62, she tries to assert that Jesus changed his mind and was actually changed by his encounters with the people who he healed. That claim starts to chip away at Christ’s divinity. That isn’t an isolated incident. I found many instances through-out the book.
On page 136 of the book, she writes that Christ is everywhere and gives examples. I can see what she was going for but the way it is written comes across very pantheistic.
The words of Nora Gallagher felt very conflicted. While she used examples and words that minimized Christ’s divinity, she always tried to connect it back to his divinity. But it did not work for her. The two do not fit. Christ’s divinity is either true or it is not. You cannot have both examples.
As a reader, I feel the book is very much lacking. The symbolism of the Lord’s supper was almost completely missing. I would have loved to see this book outlined with how it connects to the Old Testament and how this was showing the covenant between God and man fulfilled. I did not find that in this book and think it was sorely missed. The chapters were organized strangely as well. I wasn’t too fond of the order the chapters were arranged in. The history of communion was not until chapter nine. Four chapters after she went into the ritual chapters of communion.
Another complaint, in that chapter of communion, Gallagher talks about the three Abrahamic religions. Which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, using examples from festivals of all three faiths. A Jewish Sedar, Christian Maundy Thursday (which, true, do have the same roots) and Islamic Ramadan. I found Ramadan to be the odd man out in this chapter since the chapter was supposed to be focused upon a holiday that Islam does not participate in. It just seemed to be out of place in a book about communion.
I definitely recommend you skip this book.
If you are disappointed because of the low rating I gave this book let me say this: I did not give it a low rating because I disagreed with the theology (though, I did). I gave it a low rating because the writing was choppy and the author, Nora Gallagher often contradicted herself.
Stars: 2 out of 5
Disclaimer: I received this book from Thomas Nelson for free via their Book Review Bloggers program.