03 Jan Tasting God’s Word, Tasting God’s New World
A decade in the making, my next book is due out in a month! The book, Remembrance, Communion, and Hope, is based upon a wager that congregations can rediscover the gospel itself through a renewed theology and practice of the Supper. In this and the next couple of blog posts, I’ll include a brief excerpt to give you a taste of the themes, with different endorsements featured at the bottom of each. It’s available here for pre-order now!
“The church is filled with symbols and rituals that can shape our identity, moving us into a narrative that is bigger than we could conjure up ourselves.
In the gathering of a people, prayer and praise, proclamation of the Word, the washing with and feeding upon the Word in baptism and the Supper, we taste God’s new world. We will always be “of” the world. Yet, as our imaginations are fired with God’s new world, the symbolic world of consumer culture around us begins to look strange. Specifically, as we feed upon our new, gospel-defined identity in preaching and the Lord’s Supper, a different symbolic narrative comes into view: what we previously thought was “freedom” is bondage, what we thought was “healing” is sickness. In light of Christ’s reign, “freedom” is not mainly about the absence of constriction but is about the positive harmony with God and neighbor that the Spirit enables. “Healing” is not restoration so we can go our own way, but is a redirection of our misdirected desires toward loving God and our neighbor.
It is not sufficient to simply say no to the shaping symbolic culture, such as a consumer culture. A fuller way of resistance is to enter into a different world of symbols and rituals, shaped by the Spirit, participating in Christ’s reign. The Lord’s Supper, as a foretaste of the wedding banquet of the Lamb and his bride, gives us a taste of God’s new world.”
“We are creatures who hunger and thirst for God, which is why Jesus gives us bread and wine. In this audacious book, Todd Billings shows us why the renewal of the church begins around the table—how our union with Christ is deepened by communion. I hope this becomes the go-to textbook on the Lord’s Supper in Protestant seminaries. Our spiritual lives and our witness will be richer for it.”
— James K. A. Smith, Calvin College
“Todd Billings here challenges churches in many confessional traditions to take up his Reformed catholic wager to theologize and see that the Lord’s Supper is good, that reflecting on and celebrating communion are ways of being drawn more deeply into reality of the gospel, namely, life in Christ. The contents page sets the table, the chapters serve up the main courses, and the conclusion brings this theological feast to a sumptuous end.”
—Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School