Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Eucharistic Heart of Jesus 2

posted by Scot McKnight

EucharistCup.jpgThis series is for those who celebrate weekly and it is also for those who want to ponder weekly the great mysteries of the redemption we give thanks for, we memorialize, and we bless. To aid in this series, I will be looking at Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer’s new book, The Mystery of Faith: Meditations on the Eucharist
. He’s a recently deceased Polish Catholic priest whose books have sold in to the hundreds of thousands worldwide. I will not always agree with Dajczer, but instead of debating his points I will focus on what we agree on.

Whether you are high church and believe in a real presence through a miracle, as Fr. Dajczer does, or low church (as I am), we can affirm that the Lord’s Supper — as we gaze on the bread and the wine — needs to be approached with reverence in order to be seen for what it is: at the Lord’s Supper we give thanks for the redemption we find through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “This God adored by multitudes of angels comes to me as love, the redeeming One, the eucharistic One to give me everything” (10). God wants to delight us with himself. For that we can give thanks.

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Ted M. Gossard

posted February 7, 2010 at 8:22 am

Beautiful thoughts, and powerful. I am beginning to love the Lord’s Table, something really new in my own journey as a Christian.

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posted February 7, 2010 at 8:23 am

The word “reverence” to me means solemnly and if that is so, I disagree. I think we should come to the eucharist with joy, I don’t have to bear my sins, I’ve been forgiven. I can be with God now. These are things Jesus’ death and resurrection brings.

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posted February 7, 2010 at 8:53 am

I grew up and come from a tradition that celebrates the supper weekly. I’ve always been more that a little amazed at arguments for observing the Lord’s Supper on less than a weekly basis (monthly/quarterly). I come closer to see the argument for observing it more often–like at every meal.
The argument goes (it seems) that the Supper has become too routine, therefore it should be observed less often to make it more special. I’ve never heard this argument used with singing, prayer, Bible meditation/preaching/teaching. Only with the supper.
The answer is not to make it special through less frequency–but to make it special through intentionality. Why would anyone WANT to celebrate God and Jesus each week without the ritual that celebrates the central work of God’s love: the cross and resurrection of Jesus?

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posted February 7, 2010 at 8:54 am

Perhaps if we returned to the frequent use of love feasts that might help!

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Jonathan Blake

posted February 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

I’m with Darryl on this one!!

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posted February 7, 2010 at 10:33 am

Darryl @3, excellent point — I’ve had that particular discussion on a number of occasions. You do only hear it with the supper. In the frequency of love feasts we also agree, and our congregation has found our intentionality in that to be most fruitful. Although there is certainly grace related to the frequency of participating at the Lord’s Table, I am often surprised by the rhetoric that surrounds it.

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posted February 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I grew up in an evanglical church that only celebrated Eucharist once a quarter. I was fortunate to attend a church (same denomination) as an adult that began celebrating every week with the focus of the service being on the Lord’s Supper. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I too have heard the arguement that if we celebrate Communion once a week it can become routine. I just try to share with those people my experience of Eucharist being food for my spirit. There have been times in my life when I long to take the Lord’s Supper because it is for me nourishment. It is for me taking Christ into myself. I am grateful for every opportunity I have to partake of this holy sacrament.

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Bob Cornwall

posted February 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Thank you for taking up this topic.
I am a pastor in a tradition that practices weekly communion (Disciples of Christ) and grew up Episcopalian. In between I was in the Pentecostal tradition, which rarely celebrated the Lord’s Supper. I find the arguments for not celebrating the Eucharist weekly (or more frequently) less than compelling. How does intentionally coming to the Table of the Lord to remember and celebrate the presence of the Risen Lord become routine? And if it becomes routine because one does it frequently, then could we not say the same thing about everything we do in life and in worship.
With this logic, I should kiss my wife just monthly or maybe quarterly, because doing it more frequently would become, well “routine.”
To pick up on what Becky #2 said — reverence need not be joyless. The problem with many communion services is that they become morbid, as if we’re remembering a beloved dead aunt. Let us remember that the one we meet at the Table is the Risen Christ!
I shall quit or I shall start rambling!

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Scott W

posted February 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Behind some of the hesitations concerning frequent communion is,in my opinion, anti-sacramental prejudice, born of anti-Catholic theology which is not biblical or sound theologically and, moreover, is injurious spiritually.
I say this as one who has made this journey myself, not in an triumphalist sense, but has noted that as God led me to embrace the true sacramental nature of Christian existence and reality, then and only then,did I grow up spiritually into a sense of wholeness in Christ. I think that for many Christians God, practically speaking is tied up with thoughts and ideas, God for all practical purposes is extrinsic to our core being. The Eucharist ministers to us in ways that in our being that transcend our rational understanding–I can testify to this. I had to undergo a conversion which took some discipline and perseverance, not just of mind but more importantly of praxis, the Eucharist becoming the center of my orientation to worship not the sermon, and the liturgical prayer tradition of the anciet church becoming foundation of my spirituality. Does one get bored at times–yes! Does one feel as though is going through the motions at times–yes!You learn that spirituality and worship is fundamentally not about “feelings” but self-offering consistently which opens one up so the Holy Spirit can begin that process of restructuring our being–mind, body and soul.
This has freed me in so many ways and given shape to the other aspects of my faith–I still pray in tongues and enjoy praying extemporaneously. But we,Christians, are in need of conversion of mind, heart and praxis, esp. as it regards the Eucharist and understanding the sacramentality of Christian existence.

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posted February 8, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Imagine you’re a new pastor at a congregation that normally observes Communion once a month. Let’s say you go to the elder board and suggest that the congregation move to observing Communion once a week. What’s one of the first questions out of the elders’ mouths?
What is unique about Communion that suggests that it should be done with such frequency?. Does something happen in Communion that does not happen in any other event during the church’s worship service (reading of the Word, music, greeting one another, etc.)?
If the congregation believes that Communion is a remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus (i.e. no sacramentalism involved), then what does the act of Communion accomplish that is different from, say, reading the gospel account of Jesus’ crucifixion every week?
The point here is that I believe there is a direct relationship between one’s view of the efficacy of the Eucharist/Communion/Lord’s Table and one’s frequency in observing it. In a sacramental setting, I think it’s easy to argue for weekly (even daily) observance of the Eucharist. But how does a non-sacramental congregation argue for it?
By the way, I’m in the process of transitioning from a non-sacramental (non-denominational Evangelical) view to a sacramental (Anglican) one, so I’m still trying to figure all this out.

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posted February 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I think that a non-sacramental congregation/pastor argues for it the same way they argue for prayer, scripture reading, worship, and so forth. It is not “magic” in what it contains, but a part of participation and prayer. We don’t advocate praying once a month, we don’t advocate worshiping once a month, we don’t only read scripture once a month. Nor should we only gather as a community and share the Lord’s supper in remembrance of him only once a month. We proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes as part of Christian discipline.

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posted February 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Thanks for the response, RJS. I think it’s easy to see the difference between prayer and reading Scripture, for example. And it’s easy to say that something ‘different’ happens between those 2 activities. Something unique happens during prayer time, for example, that doesn’t necessarily happen in any of the other activities of a worship service (preaching, reading of the Word, etc.) and so it’s easier to justify the place of prayer in weekly worship.
The question is, in a non-sacramental view, what is unique about the Lord’s Supper? If it’s “only” a remembrance (and please understand, I’m not using that term in a perjorative sense), then how is it unique and special to remember the sacrifice of the Lord via the Lord’s Supper versus other methods (reading of the Gospel, for example)?
That is, if we decide that it is appropriate for the congregation to “remember His death until He comes” on a weekly basis, what difference would it make if we did so by means of the Lord’s Supper or by means of prayer, reading of the Word, or some other method (perhaps varying every week)? In what way does it matter that we specifically remember His death by the Lord’s Supper itself?
In any congregation of more than 100 people, Communion can easily take up a lot of time in the service. Some people will want some justification for spending that much time at the Lord’s Table as opposed to other activities that they view as more important (or that could fulfill the same function with a smaller time investment).

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posted February 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm

People can argue that monthly is often enough, I doubt there is a rock solid argument. But we “remember His death until He comes” through the Lord’s supper, by his command. We do not do this through prayer, reading of the Word, or some other method. That is a cop-out.
And given what we read in scripture how can intentional failure to observe with some regularity be anything other than disobedience?

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