The Elements

    element (n):
    a component or constituent of a whole or one of the parts into which a whole may be resolved by analysis

There was a great xkcd comic the other day, where Avatar, who can “bend” all four elements (earth, air, fire, water), meets Mendeleev, the father of the periodic table (H, He, Li, B..). It was one of those rare xkcds where I immediately got all the references, so I had a good laugh about it.

It also got me thinking about elements. Elements… I can almost feel something just on the edge of memory…elements. Elements. The Elements. Yes. The Elements. That Last Supper…

I’ve been reading about how food and other day to day things can connect us with, and point us to, our Creator. (I’m looking forward to reading another cool book on the topic, one day.) And one of the more obvious ways that this happens in Christian community is through Communion, the taking of bread and wine in remembrance of what Christ has done for us. At my church, they read the following passage:

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
– 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

So this lays out pretty clearly why we ought to take communion. We do it to remember our Savior, and in taking the elements we proclaim His death, even until He comes again.

So what are the elements?
Well, it seems like the ordinance is to take two things, the bread and the cup. I know that there’s a historic entanglement as to whether the bread and the cup remain themselves, or whether they actually become the broken body, and the shed blood. See, one side ascribes to transubstantiation, which I didn’t really have all that much understanding of, (and probably still don’t). But one day, in college, probably after church or something, a fellow student, who is Christian intellectual I respect, explained it to me. I believe the analogy he used was that of adjectives (Hey, parts of speech! Not my fault this time!). Basically, he explained how one could have a chair, and apply an adjective like “red” to it, but it would still remain a chair. Likewise, the bread and the cup take on this sort of adjectival role in relation to the body and the blood, so basically you have “bread body” in the same way you have “red chair”. (Okay, I’m not doing this justice at all, so we’ll move on.)

I, for one, appreciate the fact that Christ gave us a material thing with which to remember Him by. I’ve noticed lately that for me, having a tangible thing helps me remember stuff better, helps me focus better, helps me feel more looked after… man, the list goes on. Plus, who doesn’t like food? It would be a hard master that was like “here, the ceremony I want to to do to remember me involves eating sand, killing small puppies, and murdering your firstborn.” Dude, we gets to eat nice things! What a merciful Savior we have, One who is attentive not only to our spiritual needs, but also our physicality and frail bodies of flesh!

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