Church . . . Communion . . . You


March 6, 2005 by Isaac Hovet

This morning I woke up at 8:30, which gave me enough time to scramble for a shower, get my daughter all ready and zoom (12 min drive) to church for the 9am service (pant, pant). While I got my daughter all settled in class, I missed the first worship song, which is a bummer. I like the first energetic song, even though I know what is coming(its a bit predictable). We are supposed to clap and even though we are mostly white and stiff, I think they would like us to show a little groove during this song. Because we are all attempting to look like we have energy – we don’t – this is the time of the service to scan around and see who else managed to get out of bed. Turned heads aren’t frowned upon until the later, more intimate time of singing. So next time I am going to make sure to make the first song, even if it is only to see who else is there.

We got to participate in communion this morning. In our denomination it isn’t a required part of every service so our church decides to do it once a month. Some would cry foul at this. These people point to different scriptures that seem to declare that we should partake every time. In addition to that viewpoint there are those who only take communion once a year. I have often thought about these issues and so now I ask you. Why do we “take communion” or “participate in the Lord’s supper?” Do you think the issue is frequency? What do you remember during communion? Does the act, in the form that you take part in, have meaning for you?

I would love some thoughts from you. This is something that I am working through and would like you to help. If you are having trouble figuring out how to comment click here.

Or you can email me here.


5 thoughts on “Church . . . Communion . . . You

  1. I think that a valuable part of addressing your (very legitimate) question is consider looking at how it has been approached in other times and other places. Most of what you’ll find will be the left-over rules from an earlier move of God (its often the rules that are written down to last). However, someplace near the bottom of the pile will be the words of someone that heard from God when God spoke to him after he asked the same question.
    My answer?… here goes. The sound of one hand clapping. No, not really. Actually, I used to have a professor that had been a missionary to Indonesia. He said that there, they don’t have bread. They don’t have wheat. In Indonesia everyone eats rice. Consequently, he didn’t preach that “Jesus is the bread of life”. In Indonesia, Jesus is the “Rice of life”. I imagine that if one follow this line of reasoning, they would probably be taking communion with rice… not a cracker.
    In the US, we don’t live day to day wondering about our next meal. It’s hard to associate food of any kind with life… for me, food is more like entertainment. Its never a question of “if”… its more a question of “soup” or “melon”. What do we live by? Maybe even for us, traditional communion is more of an anacronism than anything. The key in any sense is that we must connect the ceremony (which is what it is) with what it represents. The value of any ceremony is only as great as the value of what it represents… and how tightly the two are bound.

  2. Skallywag says:

    This is something that I have thought alot about. I am not a Catholic, but I grew up in a Catholic family, and though we weren’t very devout, I miss the importance of the eucarist and the climactic excperience of Mass. Now that I have strolled into the Protastent arena where things often seem so flashy and entertaining, I often wander back to mass. I use to say it was for the reverence, but thats not true. During mass when we all get up and stand in line before the ministers to recieve the bread and wine, its not theology – its the experience. I came to recieve my daily bread and drink of his cup. I particapated, and know that I am not merely a spectator. When I walk out of the church I can still taste the bread and wine in my mouth.

    That physical excperience is important to me. Its not like raising my hands or dancing in the ailes. Its something that I take into myself…

  3. Bridger says:

    Good thoughts from Lion and Wag. I know that it is so important for me to connect with what I am doing. I do not ever enjoy doing things for the sake of doing things. I need meaning, and as Wag said, the physical experience makes the meaning. While there is a physicality when we drink 1 oz of Welch’s after a wafer, I wonder if I might experience, and thereby find meaning in communion more if it were more than 7 minutes a month. What if it were a meal shared together monthly or weekly? A meal in which Christ was the focus beyond “blessing the food” at the beginning. A meal that, as Lion referred to, was to remind us that Christ is our sustenance. The symbolism and experience of a meal is real to you and I, and so, if the goal of any ceremony or ritual is to find a deeper meaning, or to connect us to God than I think that I need to press beyond what I presently participate in and try something new. If any of you are ever in the Portland, OR area I would love to experiment with you. That last sentence sounds a little strange, but I guess experimentation coupled with the guide of tradition is where I should start.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey Bridger–
    Good thoughts about communion. How can we make it more meaningful? Good question about any components of our liturgy. Traditions that opt for ‘less’ sometimes appeal to the ‘less often makes it more significant’; protecting them from another ritualistic repetitive tradition. I know that isn’t all of their logic, but we could say this about other aspects of our liturgy…(reading from the Scripture…Prayers…’Worship’)
    I am inclined to more often…because of the command of Jesus…and the practice of the early church concerning its frequency. However(as you stated),the early church probably practiced it in a more ‘substantial matter’–a whole meal…hmm…others practice it in their home context with their family…
    Other notes–
    Zwingli & Luther(reformation leaders) could not resolve the issue of ‘transubstantiation’ vs. only a ‘physical practice’ with spiritual meaning…..Luther kept repeating the words of Jesus…’this is my body’…
    is there a place ‘inbetween’ these two perspectives?


  5. Bridger says:

    I wonder if Luther’s unwillingness to let that go is rooted in the beginnings of literalistic modernism. It is easy to assume that Jesus’ words would be interpreted by his orginal listeners just as they would be today. I would tend to think that if it is dividing us that we are missing the point. Christ came to bring unity, but we, in our humanness and arrogance, have filled our ideology with division. Rather than focus on similarites and points in which we have common ground, we highlight differences and stake our identity in the echoes of empty isolation. Whether it be speaking in tongues, predestination or hymns vs choruses, we seem to miss the point of John 17 altogether. Jesus prays for us to be known by our unity, just as he is unified with the Father. My hope is to help others find unity through diversity. We should always be allowed to question, but never to the point of division. Our questioning and revamping must be done with those we are asking the same questions. It is God’s job to stir the right questions and the Holy Spirit’s job to remind us to stay as one in the midst of an ever changing, ever evolving (and sometimes revolving) struggle to know God through his son Jesus.

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