Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caution: Serious Radical Stuff!

I put the above Power Point slide up at the beginning of my lesson last Sunday after talking about how concerned I was that we weren't truly communing, fellowshipping, sharing, and interacting with our Lord's Support the way they did in the New Testament. After all, Paul's point in 1 Corinthians 10 & 11 is, if you can't use the Lord's Supper for what it was intended for - don't take it. If it's not about the Body - don't do it!

The reason I put that slide up was not to generate doctrinal panic or combat. I quickly put the next one up that had a huge red NOT across the top of the above slide. I did it to illustrate the principle that emotional reactions depend on our expectations. Some were thrilled and excited to think about such a change in how we do communion, and others, I'm sure, were close to having a heart attack just thinking about "violating" such a sacred "act of worship." I would guess that a few people, especially the few who come in so late they usually miss the communion anyways, had no reaction at all. It all depends on our expectations.

It was just an illustration, and I alleviated all hopes or fears quickly, and hopefully got my point across. But how do I really feel about making such a change? If it were up to me - and it's not, and if it could be done without masses of members keeling over with apoplexy - which it probably can't, I'd do it in a heart beat!

The way we do our communion in our assemblies in no way resembles what the early Christians did, and doesn't accomplish the purpose for which Jesus gave it - at least not very well. In Acts 2, 20, and 1Corinthians 10-11, the Lord's Supper was simple, was part of a larger meal, and was a tool to build relational intimacy as they shared, confessed, and encouraged one another as the family and body of Christ. Koinonia, the Greek word for fellowship, was never the mysterious, introverted, sacramental, every-member-lost-in-their-own-meditation-act-of-worship that we carried over from Catholicism. It is a togetherness, interactive, one-another-focused tool that God gave to His people to help them grow in love for Him and for one another. God doesn't do anything that doesn't contribute to His purpose of helping us have a deeper relationship with Him.

Frankly, while what we do isn't bad or wrong, and through focus and concentration we can get something good from it, it just can't cause the intimacy and build love for one another that God intended. The size of the group restricts it, our traditions won't allow it, and our time limitations make it unpractical.

In my humble opinion, it would be a much more effective tool in a smaller group setting like a Bible class, or even better, a small group meeting in someones home. For the reasons already mentioned, I wouldn't suggest changing anything, but there is NO reason the Lord's Supper can't be used anytime or place that Christians want to truly commune with one another and God.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

At Fourth Avenue, I used to love when we'd place tables all around the Worship Center with communion on them. We would go up as families/friends and the shepherds and their wives would be standing at the tables, serving the flock. As they handed us the bread plate and a little cup of juice, they would verbally remind us what it was all about, and then embrace us. It always took longer than "regular" communion, but we never minded. I have never experienced communion like that since!

I guess one has to get past the "pray-pass-pause-pray-pass-pause" mentality first!!