The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher
Reviewed for Thomas Nelson Publishers
The Sacred Meal is a book written from Nora Gallagher's perception of communion. In her book she talks about communion being like a journey to a foreign land, and she divides the trip into three parts: the waiting, the receiving, and afterward. Gallagher also devotes chapters in this book to the history of communion and some of the traditions that have sprung up over the years. She also talks about the controversial subject of eating the body and blood of Christ.
For me, personally this book was a struggle to read. First of all it was written from the view point of a woman who is a preacher-in-residence at an Episcopal church. The clash of beliefs, for me began right there. But, it only grew as I read deeper into the book. For instance on page 29, Gallagher says,
The baggage I carry to the Communion line is...worry, guilt, anxiety and way too many rationalizations. That large suitcase of anxiety and concern is part of my waiting, part of my preparation for taking Communion. I know by now that I have to just live through it; I have to drag that piece of baggage around until it's no longer useful to me. So part of waiting is packing and repacking that bag, stuffing it with worry and pain.
This is so foreign to me. Why must she carry that load? Does she feel she must carry it on her own until she receives Communion or does she continue to carry it even after? I believe that the Lord will carry our burdens at any time. In fact Psalm 68:19 says,
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.
The time before we take Communion should be spent in prayer, baring our souls to our Savior, asking for forgiveness and a clean heart, and acknowledging His great sacrifice for us. The time in between Communion doesn't mean we have to continue to carry burdens. God wants us to cast all our cares upon Him. Give them to Him daily, hourly or by the minute whatever it takes. He will carry them for you.
Chapters 7 and 8, which were titled Magic and Thanksgiving and Myths and Traditions were so far fetched, I just cringed. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around why these were included in this book.
In chapter 9, she talks about a time when she attended a Ramadan celebration. Gallagher, joined in the prayers to Allah and claims,
It was amazing. It was the most bodily prayer I have ever experienced. The closest thing I had done to it was yoga...
Yoga, Allah, Muslim prayers? I cannot find any connection whatsoever to these things with my belief in One God who sent his Son to die on the cross for our sins and thus the remembrance of this through Communion.
There is much more in this book that rankled me, but I will leave it with the few items I mentioned.
This book which was supposed to be on Communion, fell far short of what Communion is really about, therefore, I cannot recommend this book as one others should read.