Writer and speaker on subjects of faith, doubt and conscience, and author of Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic

The Sacred Meal

Unlike every other Christian practice, communion is meant to be done together—as the Gospel of Matthew tells us, where two or three “gathered in my name.” You simply can’t do it by yourself. You can pray alone and fast alone. You can even go on pilgrimage alone. Communion, on the other hand, forces us to be with others.

But like these other practices, communion has the same intention: to gradually move us out of one place and into another. Author Nora Gallagher says it’s like taking a journey to a foreign land, and she divides the trip into three parts: waiting, receiving, and afterward. While we wait, we sort through our baggage, filled with worry, guilt, anxiety, and pain. Communion teaches us how to receive—that God’s gift of grace comes to us by doing nothing. Finally, we surrender our invisible baggage and, now lightened, are free to reflect upon and understand the journey we have shared.

Gallagher writes,“Every time it is the same, and every time it is different.” This is your family, your table, and act of community—the gathering of the body of Christ.

The Ancient Practices
There is a hunger in every human heart for connection, primitive and raw, to God. To satisfy it, many are beginning to explore traditional spiritual disciplines used for centuries . . . everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance of the Sabbath. Compelling and readable, the Ancient Practices series is for every spiritual sojourner, for every Christian seeker who wants more.

Advance Praise

“This is the book I have been waiting for—to give to seekers who are wary of pious language, to believers who have dozed off in their pews, to pastors who want to know how to speak in fresh ways of old truths, to anyone who asks me why I am still Christian. This is the book I have been waiting to give, but it is also the book I have been waiting to read.”

— Barbara Brown Taylor, author of "Leaving Church" and "Feasting on the Word"

“It’s so fitting that Nora Gallagher would write on the sacramental meal, because that’s how I’ve always felt about her writing . . . it opens up a channel of grace and offers a taste of mystery, accessible to anyone, yet so full of meaning that the inside feels bigger than the outside. The Sacred Meal is a rich meal for the soul.”

— Brian McLaren, author/activist (brianmclaren.net)

“Nora Gallagher is a writer I would follow anywhere, but it is a particular thrill to follow her to the Lord’s Table; I know of no contemporary writer whose insights about the Eucharist match hers.”

— Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School, author of "Girl Meets God"

“Nora Gallagher has succeeded in crafting a text that can bring us together so that Jesus’ prayer that we ‘may all be one’ might be imagined. For if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen around the Lord’s Table, sharing a sacred meal.”

— Tony Jones, author of "The New Christians" and "The Sacred Way"