Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Communion...Meaningless???

I've grown up in the church observing communion, or the Lord's Supper, most of my life. The church we're attending at the moment offers communion every week, a practice I think is more Biblical then doing it once in a while. However, I'm very unaffected by the whole thing. It seems so pointless to me and I feel like a hypocrite every time I eat my little peice of cracker and drink from my miniature plastic cup. Is this a problem with me or the way we do things? Probably both. I just don't picture Jesus and the disciples sitting around a table with little cups of juice and a plate of broken crackers or bread. And I think the whole thing is symbolic of the way we live our lives as Christians much of the time. I mean, God has prepared us a lavish feast and we are content to nibble on crackers and taste grape juice. I guess I just can't help seeing our modern day version of the Lord's Supper as a mockery of sorts. He is all we ever need, fully able to completely satisfy and overwhelm us with his goodness, and the meals we share together are to be in remembrance of his abundant provision. The Corinthians were advised not to be gluttons and get drunk on the wine. This is not the problem we seem to be having at the Lord's table these days...

These are just some ramblling thoughts of mine and I'm looking for other thoughts on this subject that are more helpful than mine. I have a feeling I'm missing something important. I'm not trying to be critical, I just want to have a different experience of communion. I've started reading a book called "Till He Come, A Collection of Communion Addresses" by Spurgeon and so far it's good. I may post some quotes as I read it. Anything other suggestions would be appreciatied.

8 comments:

Coralie Cowan said...

Jul: There is a book out there called ekklesia which explores in one of the chapters, the idea about the Lord's Supper as a feast. Which can be found here: http://www.ntrf.org/

Also, one of the author's of that book, Beresford Job, has done a tape series expanding on the ideas that are in the book. I would be pleased to give you his e-mail address if you were interested.

I must say that I don't wholly endorse all of the ideas in Ekklesia, but the teaching on the Lord's Supper has been eye opening to my husband and I.

Andrew said...

I wrote a couple of papers on the "breaking of bread" when I was in seminary and came to the conclusion (both historically and biblically) that it was part of a normal meal, sometimes called a love feast. When I get around to it I'll put the paper up on loveintruth.com. I think the evidence is so convincing that it is very difficult to disagree. (I guess that is true with gift for today, but there are still cessationists :)

Mandy Snider said...

Juls: Being the learned theologian I am...ahem.. I am under the impression that the Last Supper and Communion are two different things. When I take communion, I don’t often picture the Last Supper, but rather Jesus hanging naked from the cross, a sword piercing His side. I am reminded of what He intended His disciples to “remember” after He is gone: His broken body and His shed blood [that of which was broken and shed for my sins (mine in particular.)]

I challenge you to internalize it every single week when you eat your little piece of cracker and drink from the plastic cup – they don’t symbolize a meal. Jesus shed His blood and died for you Julie. And even if you were the only one, He still would have done it.

Miss you!

Mandaloo Snider

jul said...

Coralie, thanks for your suggestions. I'll try to check into the book and the messages.

Andrew, I would love to read your papers on this so let me know when they're availble. Also keep me updated on your work in answering cessationists, I'm pretty excited to see what you and Adrian come up with.

Mandy, thanks for dropping by. When will we ever see you guys again? Just to clarify, I don't think I mentioned the Last Supper but now I have to check and see if I did...the have the power to dazzle and confuse me haha.

Donald said...

Jul,
I've always wondered why we Christians don't regularly share bread and wine, together with prayer, when we fellowship at ordinary meals. To hijack a popular phrase, isn't communion too important to leave it to the Sunday-morning meetings with all the leaders doing a ceremony? What's wrong with just having a Christ-remembrance as part of our meal-fellowship?

Isn't that what Jesus stayed to do with the guys after the walk to Emmaus, instead of continuing down the road (or vanishing)? It seemed to be very important to Him to sit down at the table with them, bless and break the bread before vanishing. Wasn't that some sort of object lesson for us, I've wondered.

jul said...

Donald, I've wondered the same thing. I think we should just start doing it. Apparently many of us western christins don't excell at hospitality and sacrificial love for one another, I know I don't. Churches need to realize that you can't program fellowship, it's not a result of any method or planning, but is a supernatural experience only available in grace by the Holy
Spirit's work.

I think we need to start living more like you've described. When we have people in our homes (or are eating with our family), there's no reason why we can't pray that our meals will be true communion with Christ and fellowship in the Spirit with each other. I think we would learn to love each other far more in this context.

Eric said...

OK - You give me such crap for being an anonymous reader that I figure I will post in follow up to your last comment. I was tracking with you until you made the comment "Churches need to realize that you can't program fellowship, it's not a result of any method or planning, but is a supernatural experience only available in grace by the Holy
Spirit's work."

While I wholheartedly agree that you can't program fellowship, I certainly think that you can cultivate it, and I'm not entirely convinced that it requires the Holy Spirit's work. Now before your mind races to misconstrue what I am saying...
True biblical fellowship - yes - that requires the the Holy Spirit's presence. But excelling in sacrificial love and hospitality can be practiced, frankly, by just practicing it. We don't need to wait for the Holy Spirit to give us the green light to share our homes, meals, a cloak, a glass of water, whatever. That is why I am so often perplexed and embarrased when we Christians are outdone by hippies or communes, or Gay / Lesbian support groups when it comes to living in ture one anotherness. I am glad that you closed with saying that we should just start doing it. We should.

jul said...

Well, Eric, I have to wholeheartedly disagree with you. Anything we do as believers is either through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us or it's worthless--destined to burn up like straw. He is Christ living in us and he makes the life of love and selfless servanthood possible. I think it's a big mistake thinking we don't need him 'just to love people'. Loving others is perhaps one of the most difficult things we will ever do and requires all the supernatural power we can get ahold of.

Of course I agree that we shouldn't be waiting for a bolt of lightening or voice from heaven before we live as Christ did on earth. I don't think you have to worry that truly living according the Spirit (as opposed to the flesh) would put anyone in danger of not loving people the way we should. When I say 'we should just do it' I'm talking about the reality of Chirst living in us, who calls us to this life every day and also gives us the power and desire to do it. If we lack the power or desire, chances are we're living in legalism, which gives us neither the desire or power to live like Christ, but only brings condemnation and sinful self-focus/self-pity.

The Holy Spirit is mysterious in many ways, but also very practical. He is in fact real and with us all the time, not just in wonderful emotional spiritual experiences. In other words, he doesn't just show up for special occasions.