The most ideal way to learn a new language is through immersion. This is because language is not merely a mental phenomenon. Language is always incarnate. The meaning of words is bound up with inflection, facial expression, context, history. Words are short hand for actions, for rituals, for events, for feelings. In other words, all of language is onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is our word for words that sound like what they mean: zip, crash, boom, snip. All language is onomatopoeia; it’s all rooted in embodied history. This is why we learn language best through immersion. It’s not just the quantity of new words, it’s the quality. We learn things best through enacting them. If you’ve ever been in a play, you’ve experienced remembering your lines as you perform the various actions that go along with your part. But these are not just mnemonic devices, they are part of the meaning. Words and flesh go together. They are mutually dependent. They establish one another.
And this is why Jesus gave us this meal, and why He gave us baptism and why obedience to all of His commands is so important. God intends to immerse us in His way of life, His language, His culture. And so He says unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you will not have life within you. What does that mean? It means you must enact your faith. You must eat His words. You must eat the gospel. You must break off a piece and then hand it to the person sitting next to you and proclaim the gospel. You must feast on your forgiveness. You must offer that same forgiveness to your daughter, to your wife, to your roommate, to the stranger next to you. In other words, if the Word does not become flesh, there is no salvation. But you already knew that because you know Jesus. So come, Jesus invites you to the feast. You are forgiven, you are accepted, you are loved.
That’s what this meal sounds like.