Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sacred Meal: A Review

image Yikes.  I have had this book a really long time.  I made myself finish it. 

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher seems to be a book based more on feeling, tradition and ritual, rather than on fact.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with tradition . . . nor am I saying that there is anything wrong with having strong feelings.  And rituals practiced in order to remind us of our Savior, I am OK with.

I heart traditions and foster them in our own home.  And my husband can attest to the fact that I am a woman of emotion. 

But there was a significant lack of scripture to back up many of her assertions.  I supposed one might even accuse me of the same thing in my writings . . . even this review.

There are quotes from Gallagher’s book that I value, such as:

  • Think of a spiritual practice as Pilates for the spirit.
  • Jesus practiced a radical faith: everyone was welcome at his table.

But quotes that didn’t necessarily seem biblically based that caused me some concern:

  • Holy Communion is a web, a web of people who were being stitched together.  And tomorrow, we would need to be stitched together again.  Over and over.

I guess I got a little concerned, though at first I agreed, when Nora Gallagher wrote, “I began to see that if you don't act on what you hear in the Gospels every Sunday, then it doesn’t stick.” 


Upon returning to the Episcopal Church after a hiatus, it was the ritual that she loved.  And I thought to myself, shouldn’t our first love be Jesus?  Shouldn’t the mention of Jesus be what causes us to appreciate and value a church?  “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-39) Isn’t it He who draws us to Himself, even to church?  It shouldn’t be ritual that keeps us in church. 

Then she writes,

“The trouble was, I had trouble connecting it back to my daily life.  Church was like a play or a nice concert.  I went to the “theater” on Sunday, felt uplifted or moved, but couldn’t figure out how to integrate those feelings into my own experience; so gradually they faded as the week wore on.  It didn’t connect.  . . . What I finally understood was that simply going to church doesn’t do it, but neither does not going to church.”


But Gallagher never tells the reader what keeps a person glowing like Moses did after he spent time with the Lord (Exodus 34: 29-35).  It isn’t ritual, or serving in a soup kitchen, or communion.  The way to feel connected and remain connected is to have a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ.  Deuteronomy 32: 46-47 tells us that the words of the Bible are not just idle words, “they are your life.” Spending time daily in prayer and READING your Bible is how one remains connected to the “experience” at church.    Like a grape vine or a tree or even grass, the way to grow is to continually stay connected to a source of sustenance . . . that which provides water . . .

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)

Ritual and tradition won’t save you.  Feelings won’t support your journey to heaven.  Only a right relationship with a Savior will.

9That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."

Romans 10: 9-11


(This book was provided to me for free by my involvement with The BookSneeze, a blogging program sponsored by Thomas Nelson.  I do not have to return this book, nor was I paid to write this post.  Please know, that my intent was not to stir up strife or divide the church body . . . I only meant to write a review and express my concern over some of the content in this book.)

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