Maybe it was just me

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Maybe it was just me . . .

. . . but I grew up thinking 1) the Lord’s Supper was a requirement, and 2) its essence was pretty much summed up in its being a requirement.  (2), at least, was a misconception.

Christians and only Christians (according to “our” definition) were to partake of the Lord’s Supper precisely once (no more, no less) per Sunday, or else.  What coursed through our minds as we sat on the pews during communion?

I shudder to think whether there were those who spent their communion time spying.  Were they more concerned with people who didn’t partake but “should have,” or with people who were partaking but “shouldn’t have”?  I suppose most thought that partaking when you were not “authorized” was also sinful.

I shudder to think that a lot of us spent more time making sure the requirement was satisfied “decently and in order” than that communion was experienced communally (!) as a dynamically meaningful, adoring, and faith-filled commemoration.

I also shudder to think back on a few I noticed exiting the “auditorium” immediately after communion.  Were they ex- or closet-Catholics who believed they got grace by biting crackers and sipping juice?  Were they simply shallow “converts” who had been sadly acclimated to think that once they were dipped, they were supposed to partake, and that was about the sum of Christianity?  Of course we never saw this sub-group of folks on Sunday nights¹ or Wednesday nights. . . .

Recently, I heard, “Every time you miss the Lord’s Supper, you rebel against the Lord’s will.”

I wished there were a deeper concept of what the Lord’s Supper is about.  Somehow, I think the Lord meant for it to be more than a requirement that may be submitted to, or rebelled against.  Why do so many otherwise thoughtful souls seem to suggest that this is all there is to it?

I grew up thinking the Lord’s Supper was a requirement. I don’t think it was just me.

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¹ Diabolically, I once plotted to force the Sunday-morning-only adherents in my congregation into a crisis of conscience by observing the Lord’s Supper at church on Sunday nights only.  This never would have worked:  the structure doesn’t allow for intentionally forcing scores into not having the opportunity to partake.  That would have been tantamount to partial spiritual genocide and institutional suicide.

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5 thoughts on “Maybe it was just me

  1. Anne Boyd 07/07/2013 / 4:55 pm

    When we fall in love with Jesus, we feel privileged to participate in all the things that others consider “requirements.” We can’t “get enough” of time with God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

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    • Brian Casey 07/07/2013 / 8:24 pm

      On one level, what you say is true. One might even say it is *absolutely*true!

      However, the practical side of communion — the execution of the ritual — can ruin it for some on a nearly weekly basis. The meaning can be obscured by the sheer silliness of the attempts at order and requirement-filling, and the richness, irretrievably buried as a result. This feeling may indicate a lack of depth or faith on my part, and I accept that possibility; it also may indicate my well-placed anguish for the many who never have the opportunity to “get it” as I have, on occasion.

      I hear the purity of your God-adoring heart coming through, Anne. If what I say in this comment comes across as stubborn, I would say the difference in vantage point has something to do with personality type. Maybe also a difference in terms of sense of “calling” — mine is, perhaps and for the present, more to the mainstream or just-left-of-mainstream masses than yours is, at present. I feel the deep need to call many out of the lethargy of this tradition and others. The first step (and this was not my first, but it might have been better had it been!) is to describe something in common experience, inviting some from “our” heritage to re-see the false (or at least impoverished and un-advisable) communion atmosphere we have been living in for decades.

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  2. Sherry Kirkland 07/08/2013 / 10:20 am

    This comment is from Sherry Kirkland, via Facebook:

    Not having been raised in the Church of Christ, the introduction of meeting each Sunday morning for the main purpose of collectively thinking of Christ during communion was a new and beautiful concept to me back in 1974-75. It still is — I love it, but I am no longer guilt-ridden if I can’t make it to church on Sunday for some reason (as I was for so many years); and I no longer look with contempt at those who don’t take the Lord’s Supper every week. I think it is human to want to be the ones doing things the right way, even when there is not a whole lot of proof that we actually are doing things the right way. It makes us feel superior and, unfortunately, leads us toward a judgmental thought process about many things. We were taught these concepts in ways that made us feel connected to each other. I loved that feeling of connection and being a part of something bigger than us. In fact, I still love that too.

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