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Posts Tagged ‘eucharist’

Feast or Famine?

The new year got off to a wonderful start yesterday: walking to church in the serene beauty of the snow, being with our church family, hearing some of the highlights of the year by the young people (Nepal, SK, SVSC), the heartfelt special music by CC, a special New Year’s greeting from IB & SB, and SG’s timely reminder to be “making the most of the time” and to “understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph 5:15-17; LEB). Being the first Sunday of the month, we also observed the Lord’s Supper – more on this below.

Then we went over to our friend’s skating party, after which we headed the opposite direction for a long drive to see a dear couple and their family. After getting dinner ready for the kids, we made our way to a Korean/Japanese restaurant where we shared a delicious meal and shared the joys and struggles of parenting, work and the Christian life. We encouraged and challenged one another and it struck me how this was a microcosm of how our church gathering should be like.

As I mentioned earlier, at church yesterday, we “observed” the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper; and after sharing a wonderful feast and fellowship with our friends, I felt saddened by the contrast. As I have written elsewhere over a decade ago, in turning the Lord’s Supper as a full communal meal to a mere symbolic act tacked on at the end of the worship service and observed once a month, a wealth of theological, ecclesiological and practical meaning and significance has been lost. The Passover, the Last Supper, Jesus’ table fellowship, the Greco-Roman banquets and the eschatological Marriage Supper of the Lamb are aspects that are largely ignored in our contemporary “celebration” of Communion.

Similar to the re-examination of baptism I have called for, my prayer is that our church will discover the formative potential and rich experience of the Lord’s Supper as a full communal meal. On this note, I was pleasantly surprised to come across another study that adds yet another dimension to the Supper, R. Alan Streett’s Subversive Meals: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper under Roman Domination during the First Century. Stay tuned for more insights as I delve deeper into this over the next few months.

I’ll close with one observation: over the decades that I’ve been a Christian, I have been puzzled (and not a little dismayed) by the reaction of Christians when their sacred cows or traditions have been called into question. Maybe I’m an overly excitable, emotional and passionate person, but it baffles me how Christians can react with indifference to the teaching of the Word. I can understand and appreciate those who react with hostility, but to react with apathy, as if they don’t care is simply astounding to me.

I recall the first time I came across an article that pointed out the Lord’s Supper was clearly a full meal (as a plain reading of 1 Cor. 11:17-34 makes obvious). My heart began racing and I was almost drooling in excitement!  Wow! How did I miss this obvious fact?! What are the implications of this? Naturally I began to dig deeper and my excitement only increased with each book or article that further illuminated the subject matter. Suddenly, all sorts of connections and possibilities opened up before me and I could not contain my excitement any further.

Providentially, an opportunity presented itself to me, and I tried to distill the my fruits of my study and reflection into a sermon I preached on May 25, 2003, entitled, Cliquish Party or Communal Participation: Re-Membering and Remembering at the Lord’s Supper. As I reviewed my notes just now, I recalled how stressful it was to try and explain the socio-historical background, expound the key points from 1 Cor. 11:17-34, and exhort the congregation to re-think how we “eat together”, in the allotted time I had. I’m sure I must have exceeded the time limit and tested the saints’ patience!

Sadly, despite the fact that this church celebrated Communion each week in the usual reductionistic Evangelical manner, and that I had just exposed the shortcoming of their praxis, the message was met with either indifference or the obligatory polite pat on the back. Let’s be clear here: I am but a frail and failing messenger, a weak and unworthy vessel – as all of us are. But what about the message: was it biblical? were there gaps in the argument or deficiencies that needed clarification or correction? do we as a Body need to prayerfully consider this further, and if necessary, adjust and align our theology and practice accordingly? where were the conversations? where was the Berean spirit?!

And yet some Christians will crap their pants and denounce you as a heretic if you vote for the wrong candidate.

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT CHRISTIANS CAN BE SO DAMN COLD TOWARDS THE WORD OF GOD?!

No wonder reformation and revival tarries!

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