Most Christians have long recognized that marriage is a metaphor throughout Scripture to describe the relationship between God and humanity. We see it in both the Old (Genesis, Hosea, Song of Solomon) and the New Testament where Jesus himself often refers to the Church as His Bride.
But I learned something about Jewish marriage traditions this week that changes how I view the sacrament of communion. I’m reading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. It’s fascinating and challenging all at the same time. It’s about how like seeds have to break to grow and multiply, we too grow and gain time (rather than losing it) when we conquer our fears enough to really give up our lives for God’s purposes. We take communion to remember how Jesus broke and gave himself for us. But there is another layer of symbolism also.
“I heard a pastor tell the story of how he’d been in Jerusalem…when a Jewish rabbit started teaching the marriage customs of first-century Jews. He’d up and said that when a man had decided whom he’d chosen to marry, his father would pour a cup of wine and pass it down to his son. The son would then turn to the young woman he loved, and with all the solemnity of an oath before Almighty YHWH Himself, the young man would hold out the cup of wine to the woman and ask for her hand in marriage. He would ask with these words: ‘This cup is a new covenant in my blood, which I offer to you.’
The pastor had told me how he’d sat back, a bit stunned…The Last Supper was a marriage contract. …In other words Jesus says to you with this cup, ‘I love you. I want you. I covenant Myself to you…Will you covenant yourself to Me?”
I’m a bit stunned myself. But I think it makes the act of communion even more beautiful. May we remember this as we partake.
You are loved,
~ Pastor Cindy