July 2013


“The two main sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist, are the spiritual pillars of the Church.  They are not simply instruments by which the Church exercises its ministry.  They are not just means by which we become and remain members of the Church but belong to the essence of the Church.  Without these sacraments there is no Church.  The Church is the body of Christ fashioned by baptism and the Eucharist.  When people are baptised in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and when they gather around the table of Christ and receive his Body and Blood, they become the people of God, called the Church.” – Henri Nouwen

dscn56341.jpg                                                                                                                                                  

The  church my family attends holds to sacramental tradition, though we’ve never taken Communion every Sunday.  I wish we did.  Last spring, I wrote and taught a small group course on Baptism and Communion, the Sacraments of the United Methodist Church.  The course seemed to be very well-received.  My great hope is that some folks in our small church will begin to see that there are some spiritual benefits to Holy Communion; that they might begin to desire the Body and Blood of Christ more; and that they might see it as more than a vain symbol by which we gain nor offer anything.

I want folks to see it for what it is…A sacred meal.  A holy exchange with a living God.  Spiritual refreshment.  A place to come where we as a congregation are all bound together, united, knit tightly by the Body and Blood of Christ that we partake of.

In our last lesson on Communion, I did a review of John Wesley’s treatise, The Duty of Constant Communion, in which he examined the arguments against taking Communion often, and the Biblical arguments for partaking as often as we can.   As I wander through the arguments against and for frequent use of the Communion table, note that many of the arguments are pure Wesleyan;  some I’ve gathered from other sources; and finally, the most profound ideas are straight from my own small noggin.  In the midst of all my ramblings, you’ll find some links to writings on the subject that are much more eloquent than my own.  Please, click on them, and read offerings from folks who are smarter, and from whom I often steal ideas.

Now, if you’re looking for a scholarly dissertation on the Eucharist, you ain’t gonna find it here.  Remember, this is dirt-road theology you’re dealing with.  This is a post you’re either going to love or hate, depending on where you stand on the issue of weekly Communion.  Just take my cornbread musings into consideration, and leave me some comments on where you stand on the matter after you read.

We’ll look at the topic from two perspectives…Myths about Communion vs. Myth Busters.

Myth # 1:  Christ didn’t really command that we take Communion.

It’s funny to me that we as a Christian sub-culture are so enamored with the Ten Commandments, fighting for them to posted in our public places; putting them on signs in our front yards; and considering them to be foundational documents for our nation here in the U.S.A.  We love to spout Old Testament commands when we see behaviors in people that are offensive to us.  Evangelicals fixate on commands dealing with the consumption of alcohol, modest clothing, sexual behavior, coarse language, leadership roles in the Church and the home, whether a pastor can be divorced, whether he can be divorced and remarried, and on and on.  Some even use Scripture to justify whether or not a woman should cut her hair.

Subsequently, we define who is “saved” and who isn’t by how well they follow the commands.  We preach grace, but what we practice is often another thing altogether.

Why is it we focus on some commands, though, yet ignore a very basic one Christ Himself gave us?

Mythbuster:  Sorry, y’all.  Jesus said to do it.

Scripture says this…

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”  

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”   (Luke 22:14-19)

Take this…divide it among you…do this in remembrance of me.

Take this.

Do this.

I don’t know, but when my mama told me to take something, or do something, I knew she meant that I better take it and freakin’ do it.

One thing I’ve noted over the years of observing my own parents, and now that I’m a parent myself, is that good parents teach through repetition.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my girls to stay away from the stove when we’re cooking, because it’s hot.  Eventually, they reach a point where they point and say, “Hot”,  and they don’t go near it.  I also can’t tell you how many times my wife and I have told our two year old that she shouldn’t attempt to change her own diaper.  That one still hasn’t shrunk in.  We are in a phase of doing excessive amounts of laundry in my home as a result.

(more…)

callaway 3

Martha Cason Callaway Chapel
Callaway Gardens
Pine Mountain, GA

This prayer from Cardinal John Henry Newman seems to have become increasingly important to me.  I find myself praying it often throughout the week, and sometimes, even multiple times a day.  While the entire prayer strikes me, there are a few words that seem especially personal…”May no one be less good for having come within my influence”; and “As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, let me whisper from time to time a word of love to Thee.”  Just those lines are exceptional prayers in and of themselves.  Hope you enjoy. 

Peace…

Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of life – in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insincerity of those whom I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied.
Let me put myself aside to think of the happiness of others, to hide my little pains and heartaches, so that I may be the only one to suffer from them.
Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me so use it that it may mellow me, not harden and embitter me; that it may make me patient not irritable, that it may make me broad in my forgiveness; not haughty and overbearing.
May no one be less good for having come within my influence, no one less pure, less kind, less noble for having been a fellow traveler in our journey towards Eternal Life.
As I go my rounds from one distraction to another, let me whisper from time to time a word of love to Thee.
May my life be spent in the supernatural full of power for good, strong in its purpose of Sanctity.
Amen.

To learn more about John Henry Newman, click here.