Run! Eat right.
by Jacob Juncker
These thoughts started a conversation that was had at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, September 18, 2016, as part of “The Message.” The discussion was based upon a reading from 1 Corinthians 11:17-30. Here, Paul raises concerns about how the community is sharing, or better stated not sharing at the table of the Lord.
How was your run this week?
Did you know that proper nutrition, eating right, is essential to running far and well? Not eating right can make the run incredibly painful. Your muscles will ache; and, with every slight variance (up or downhill) it will feel as if someone is stabbing your muscles and your feet are stuck to the ground.
For those not running long distances, eating right isn’t really necessary. But, for those who run great distances, its imperative. Most runners can get away without worrying about it for runs of an hour or less. But, begin running longer than that, regardless of the distance, and you will have plan on eating something. Your body simply doesn’t have enough energy stores to run longer than that without some pretty serious consequences.
Researchers in England surveyed nearly 300 runners at the London Marathon and discovered that only a small fraction ate enough carbohydrate before the race. And those who did eat enough carbs ran 13% faster (this is a HUGE margin!).
Not eating right significantly reduces performance. 13% is huge in a long distance race. I expect to run the marathon in less than 4 hours and 45 minutes. 13% of 285 minutes is 37 minutes. To not eat right has significant repercussions on performance. In choosing not to eat right you will hit the wall. You’ll find yourself weak, sick, and you could edge near death.
You have to eat right; and, knowing how and why to eat is just as important as knowing what to eat.
The church in Corinth was not eating properly. When the early church met, they most often gathered around the meal table. They would eat together. They were supposed to share their food, but what was happening was that the wealthy were bringing their own, private meals to the dinner. They’d eat and drink alone while the poor starved or at best survived off the scraps.
The church is called to do better. The wealthy in the church shouldn’t eat and get drunk while other members starve. When the church gathers, especially around the table, it’s an equal sharing. Everyone may bring different things—even different amounts—to the table, but all share equally in the bounty that is served.
The church in Corinth’s practice of excluding poorer persons from the feast was contributing to the schisms and divisions that riddled the church. In the way the meal was shared—or not—social divisions were continuing to be drawn in a community where there was to be “neither Jew nor Greek…slave nor free…male and female, for…all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, Common English Bible).
Paul was reminding the church that in order for us all to eat well, we must eat right. We must equally share in the bounty of the table. In order to eat right, we must eat together, not alone. “Neglecting the poor during the church’s meal and allowing schisms to continue at the table (vv.17-22) expose people to divine judgment.” You have to eat right.
But it’s not just about how you eat, it’s also about why. When the church gathers to eat together, writes Paul, we do it as a remembrance of the meal Jesus himself had with his disciples. We do it as a solemn remembrance of Christ’s death: the excruciating lengths Jesus went to show us grace, mercy, and love. It’s a remembrance of the new covenant Jesus ushered in: a covenant that binds us with God and one another. Failure to remember these things—just eating for the sake of eating and not remembering Christ’s death and the covenant that binds us to God and each other can have detrimental effects. We’re not eating right, notes Paul, if we fail to live into the reasons we eat in the first place. We gather because Christ calls us all together. We eat because through this meal we are reminded of that which unites us.
We have to eat right if we are to be continually strengthened in our faith and united in love.
How do you understand the sacrament of holy communion? Do you believe it is a meal that should only be eaten on special occasions, like dessert course? Or, do you understand it to be a meal that you need to eat more regularly, like the vegetables you need to eat daily to remain healthy?
Here are some quick reasons why I need communion to be more than dessert–a special meal served at special times. Communion is, for me more like vegetables–something I need to eat regularly–because:
- I need to be reminded of the entire faith story often.
- I need to be reminded that God’s love and grace can be experienced in the simple, ordinary places and things of life–like bread and juice.
- I need to be reminded that God’s love is freely offered to all–that Christ’s table is open to all who earnestly seek to change their hearts and lives–and not just me. Everyone is invited to the table.
- I need to be reminded that no matter what we may think divides us, it is Christ that unites us.
- I need to be reminded that in the breaking of the bread and drinking of the cup that God not only makes us one with Godself, one with each, but that we are called to be one in ministry to all the world.
I need these reminders more than just once a month. I need to be reminded of these things not only on special occasions but every single day. Communion, for me, is way more than a special treat; it is the meal that sustains my faith. It is similar to vegetables. What about you?
 “How to Fuel for a Marathon or Half Marathon” by Jason Fitzgerald at fannetasticfood.com (March 9, 2015). Accessed September 23, 2016.
 Footnote for 1 Corinthians 11:27-34 in The Wesley Study Bible (Common English Bible) (Nashville: Common English Bible, 2012), 1453.