Sadly, this book has been sitting on the shelves of the theological library where I work since 2001 without being borrowed. But in preparing a sermon on the agape feast, I got it out this weekend and fixed that up.
Koenig looks at the table fellowship of Jesus and the agape feasts (he prefers the term eucharistic meals) of the early church. I like that he explores this undernoticed connection between the continuity of the table fellowship of Jesus’ ministry, the Last Supper, and the breaking of bread we see in Acts.
He connects the meals with mission, but the connection seems less successful to me. Perhaps here is where Roger Gehring’s House Church and Mission supplies the missing part of the picture – mission strategy was tied not just to the common meal, but to the centrality of household structures in the life of the church. Churches were extended families which shared all of life.
Strangely, too, he doesn’t engage with Yoder at all, who in Body Politics outlines the economic and social significance of the Lord’s Supper as a shared meal in a way which would enhance Koenig’s argument.
Koenig ends with a hope that his book will help provoke a larger conversation about eucharist, shared meals and mission. He also challenges the established church to consider recovering the common meal. Unfortunately, he’s likely to hear a lot of deafening silence from the established church, which has gone way too far in a different direction. But fortunately, there are people who are having this conversation in the emerging church, the house church and Anabaptism, and these people would do well to read his book.