Sunday, June 1, 2014

Communion -- A meal with Christ

Communion has always been a bit of a mystery to me.   I'm not talking about the different mainstream beliefs about Communion (Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, Receptionism, Memorialism, etc).  No, I'm talking about the typical practice, in general.

I grew up in a church that doesn't observe communion, and I now attend a church that observes it every week.   Over the years, I've visited a number of denominations, many with their own take on how, how often, and the meaning of the parts of the Communion experience.

I believe that communion is a important part of the Christian life; but I also believe (in general) the mainstream Church has it wrong.

As I read the Bible, this remembrance of the Sacrifice of Christ and its New Covenant is a party of sorts.  There is food and fellowship.  It has friends encouraging each other, and Christians drawing strength from their time with fellow believers.  It is most certainly a time to remember, and to do so lightly would also be a mistake.  But, I believe Christ called us together and gave us His command of fellowship in His memory because He knew we would need each other.

I have no idea how the Communion celebrations depicted in the New Testament have been boiled down to a five minute moment of silence with mass-produced, stale cracker squares and plastic shot glasses of grape juice*.  I would guess (and it is only a guess) that it didn't happen all at once.   I would guess that it slowly descended into its current form.  And I would imagine, in there somewhere, is a sour-puss church leader who couldn't believe anything Holy could also be fun or festive.   Then you throw in certain denominations' need to script everything, and it doesn't take much imagination to see how it happened.

I've never been comfortable with communion as most frequently practiced.  All the while, there is no question that Jesus Himself tells us to remember Him in this way.  The passage most often translated as "Do this in remembrance of me" could be more accurately translated as "When you do this, remember me."  That is, when you sit together in fellowship remember that Christ is there with you.  His gift and hope in Him is why you come together and as such Christ should be the source, strength, and grace for all conversation.  

This blog is called Controversial Christianity, and while this post may be controversial up to this point, I've saved the most controversial till last.

There is a very real possibility that God looks down with disgust at his children and their sad cracker squares and 1/2 ounce of juice.  It is very possible, that God is not honored by a celebration boiled down to fit neatly into a time-slot in today's orchestrated worship experience.  Using the "Last Supper" and New Testament accounts of Communion as a guide, our Savior is likely to judge that our efforts in this aspect of worship fall short, showing ignorance of the example He set and His Aposals taught.

Equally, I have to believe our Heavenly Father is grieved when a a body of believers willfully ignores His commandment.  I don't believe we can simply say, "it was misused" or "misunderstood" so "we shouldn't do it." Rather, the appropriate response, I believe, is to gently correct those who have mis-represented the purpose, outcome, or import of the sacrament.

Lastly, Paul warns us about divisions caused by differences in our beliefs.  So, there is no question for God's heart is heavy when observing the different views of His time of fellowship with His Children.

Always Remember: "Whose you are, and at what cost.

* For our Catholic and Orthodox friends it is more apt to be a small loaf of bread and a well-adorned chalice; but the concept is the same.

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