Why Communion weekly? 9-21-09
September 21, 2009
For today's main post, non-Christians may feel excused.
I want to talk about a Christian sacrament, Holy Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper and as the Eucharist.
And as a Protestant in the Reformed Tradition with its roots in John Calvin's theology, I want to argue (again) for weekly celebration of this sacrament, as happens in the Catholic and Anglican traditions.
I'm prompted to do this by a piece I've just read in the current issue of Theology Today, a publication that comes out of the Princeton Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution. (You won't find the piece I'll be quoting online. At least not yet.)
In "Speaking of Religious Practices," Gordon S. Mikoski, the publication's reviews editor, writes about how religious practices (prayer, hymn singing, fasting, etc.) teach theology.
He writes that his study of Calvin, the 16th Century reformer, has "yielded another discovery: The Reformed (T)radition may have been richer and less prone to certain forms of propositional excess if it had followed Calvin's vision of a weekly celebration of the Eucharist immediately following the proclamation of the gospel. The weekly juxtaposition of Word and table -- with a decided priority given to the Word, to be sure -- would, perhaps, have helped the Reformed (T)radition to hold together things like understanding and mystery, theory and practice, and doctorine and embodiment in a more faithfully effective manner. . . (W)e should have taken Calvin more seriously on the need for weekly juxtaposition of Word and table."
Exactly. But Calvin couldn't get weekly Communion done as a long-lasting practice even in Geneva. Still, it's worth pursuing.
Why? Because people in our congregations learn in different ways. Some learn in left-brained ways. Some in right-brained ways. The sermon (Word, in the above quote) is a left-brained way of preaching the gospel. Communion is a right-brained way of preaching exactly that same liberating gospel.
If we leave one out, we impoverish worship. My own church, in my view, thus impoverishes worship every Sunday except the first one of the month, when we celebrate the sacrament.
Now, to be fair, it's also a reasonable and often accurate criticism of Catholic and Anglican worship that their attention to the Word -- in sermons -- is lacking. The high value we Presbyterians place on the sermon is kind of a mystery to some of my Catholic and Episcopal friends.
But both their traditions and mine should offer balanced worship that holds up both word and sacrament. And I'm glad Mikoski's piece prompted me to make that plea again.
Now, if you non-Christian members of other faith communities still are with me for some reason, perhaps you could tell me whether there are aspects of worship in your tradition that get out of balance in this way and what you're doing to restore that balance.
* * *
A DIFFERENT MUSIC EXPRESSION FOR MUSLIMS
American Muslim kids playing punk rock? Oh, come on. But it's true, this report says. And the music is helping them express their sense of difference in being pulled between two cultures. Know any punk-rock Muslims?
Bill you said "Some learn in left-brained ways. Some in right-brained ways." Did God tell someone this?
Question to all,
Do you think Noah was right-brain or left?
What is not eternal
Posted by: Fnu | September 21, 2009 at 12:35 AM
To the question,
Now, if you non-Christian members of other faith communities still are with me for some reason, perhaps you could tell me whether there are aspects of worship in your tradition that get out of balance in this way and what you're doing to restore that balance.
For me this is a invalid question, due to "aspects of worship in your tradition" in your question.
Why you may ask, I'm thinking, it's not worship and/or tradition!
In The Silence
Posted by: Fnu | September 21, 2009 at 12:45 AM
Susan, late last night I responded to you by expressing my hope that authoritarianism can be discouraged without resorting to authoritarian methods of doing do. In deed, that's the ONLY way to do it! So I nearly laughed out loud when I read this, written by Bob Altemeyer:
"Finally, just to take this to its ludicrous extreme, I asked for reactions to a “law to eliminate right-wing authoritarians.” (I told the subjects that right-wing authoritarians are people who are so submissive to authority, so aggressive in the name of authority, and so conventional that they may pose a threat to democratic rule.) RWA scale scores did not connect as solidly with joining this posse as they had in the other cases. Surely some of the high RWAs realized that if they supported this law, they were being the very people whom the law would persecute, and the posse should therefore put itself in jail. But not all of them realized this, for authoritarian followers still favored, more than others did, a law to persecute themselves. You can almost hear the circuits clanking shut in their brains: 'If the government says these people are dangerous, then they’ve got to be stopped.'"
That's from page 25 of "The Authoritarians" available in pdf form for free at:
http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/ and in print for under $10.
Posted by: Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org | September 21, 2009 at 01:00 AM
Actually, Bill, I don't know any punk-rock Muslims, but I bet Cole Morgan and Igor do?
After all, they have talked to many Muslims, they say. Maybe they could visit a Mozque for a "Koran Bash" like the "Bible Bash" they advertise and report back to us on the music?
Posted by: Will Graham | September 21, 2009 at 06:06 AM
Cole Morgan, a reponse to your claim that the abortion industry is not racist.
Posted by: Will Graham | September 21, 2009 at 06:08 AM
Francis Dw: (last night)
"And notice that "pure and undefiled" religion is "oneself(individual)", a Brother or Sister doing The Will of Our Father, led of The Holy, Set Apart, Spirit......."
And in a High Tech Purebred Society, All Humans are Brother/Sister Asexual Clones, like Adam and Eve.
Jesus was Celibate but did not have his Clone. Jesus will lead a new group of Males on a New Planet, and they will all have Female Clones made from their Rib.
Revelation 14:3b,4a. KJV. "... and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These were they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins."
1John 3:9. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
Jesus' Movement was Celibate Males. God/Us, our Asexual High Tech Clone Ancestors, will Colonize a new Planet for a new Group of Virgin Males, with Jesus as the Leader.
It is easier to start a large Colony on a Planet, by taking Regenerated Virgin Males from a Ruined Planet, and then Reproducing the Equal Female Clones from each Male's Rib.
The Adam and Eve Group God/Us started on Earth did not work, and the God/Us Species do not Kill Fallen Humans, if the Group does not work out.
Fallen Humans will Self Destruct with High Tech Pollution and Nuclear bombs, through the Generations of Birth, Death, and Rebirth, like the Descendants from Adam and Eve are doing today.
God/Us Clones will return before the Judgment Day Fire, to take a new group of Celibate Males, with Jesus, to a new Planet, like they did with Adam and Males.
High Tech Eternal Physical Life After Birth Truth, 'literally', is Never Ending, on Earths and in Spaceships.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | September 21, 2009 at 07:25 AM
Great post from Kansas Bob.
My own experience was much different. The atheist doctor who helped kill my dad had nothing to offer. Not even a "sorry, I did my best."
In fact, he never spoke to any of us ever again, just went on to the next case. Ironically, the only person, at the time, who offered any comfort was a lawyer who became a friend and mentor.
You just never know.
Posted by: Will Graham | September 21, 2009 at 07:36 AM
I wonder if churches really celebrate communion the way that it was originally meant to be celebrated? Or has the church traded the heart of communion to a superficial form of it? The dictionary says that communion is:
* the celebration of the Eucharist
* a group of persons having a common religious faith
* interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication
I wonder if we religious types have bought into the first two and left out the last one? It reminds me of this verse in 1Corinthians 10:16.
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
The Greek word translated “communion” in this verse is koinōnia. In other New Testament verses koinōnia is translated fellowship or sharing.
I think that communion is much more that lining up in church to partake of a sip and a bite. Communion is not just about the bread and the wine.. it is also about the sharing - the sharing of the life of Christ in each of us.. and probably in an intimate setting around a table.. like Jesus did on that last Thursday.
Posted by: Kansas Bob | September 21, 2009 at 08:28 AM
Man killed in church after stone altar falls on him
Gunther Link, a devout Catholic, prayed to be saved after he was trapped in a lift – but was killed when he went to church to give thanks and the stone altar fell on him.
So, if religious people get divorced, get traffic tickets, die of diseases and get killed in accidents at the same % rate what does it tell about the power of prayer? Apparently, they pray for others and get prayed for, and Jesus says "anything" you ask in my name or father's name will be given to you, what does it mean?
Posted by: IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org | September 21, 2009 at 09:16 AM
Communion. Part of the herd. Funny. Superstition is such a driving force. So silly. Let’s think for ourselves. Get over it. The bible was written by people. People who believed in superstition. One of these days we will live in the natural world and live longer.
Do you honestly think pretending to drink blood and eat flesh of a dead guy is not morbid?
If prayer works, then why isn’t it mandatory to pray when you enter a hospital? Alcohol is mandatory, certain procedures and instruments are mandatory. Filling out paper work is mandatory. Why? Because, for the most part, it works. Prayer doesn’t…
If prayer worked there would be no graveyards.
Rituals are costly and only serve superstition….
Iggy, the guy killed by the alter was praying to the wrong god. God doesn’t like it when you pray to other gods. It’s in the bible. So it must be so.
Smile. There’s no Hell.
Bible study tonight.
We had 16 people show last Sat. Some people from ST Joe visited…
Five people showed at our Wyandotte group last night.
We will be attending our first Alpha Course soon.
Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole
Posted by: memberofKCFreeThinkers.org | September 21, 2009 at 09:59 AM
"I want to talk about a Christian sacrament, Holy Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper and as the Eucharist. - The sermon (Word, in the above quote) is a left-brained way of preaching the gospel. Communion is a right-brained way of preaching exactly that same liberating gospel."
Luther's Small Catechism. "Christian Questions with Their Answers" Drawn up by Dr. Martin Luther for those who intend to go to The Sacrament"
"Note. These questions and answers are no child's play, but are drawn up with great earnestness of purpose by the venerable and pious Dr. Luther for both young and old. Let each one take heed and likewise consider it a serious matter; for St. Paul writes to the Galatians, chapter sixth: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked."
The Missouri Synod Lutheran Church had 'Close' Communion. You had to turn in your name beforehand to participate, 36 years ago when I was a member. And Communion was a special part of the service, 1 Sunday of the Month, with questions from the pastor to the congregation.
Kansas Bob is of the Lutheran Church of America (LCA). Do you still practice Communion this way?
I was surprised as an adult, when I found out other Churches had 'open' communion and passed the 'bread' and 'grape juice' down the rows for anyone to participate. Our church called it 'Close', not Closed.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | September 21, 2009 at 10:04 AM
So as with the World, how much rote is there to divide Humans in the Journey through this Fallen Lifestyle of Divided Males and Females, beside Religion? All the other Divisions are set up by Humans, for All Members of the Humans Race on One Planet, instead of One Nation, with Liberty and Justice for All.
Even the USA set up to be that One Nation, has all the Human Divisions of Gender, Race, Religion, Government, Haves, Havenots, etc.. The USA has National, State, County, and City Government Divisions and Laws.
Since USA became a Country with Freedom from a State Religion, the Protestant Christian Religion, became the Undeclared Religion, for Humans to practice. Why is there Christian Religious Icons etc., in Government?
Where is Human Holy Living Communion, of All Members of the Human Species on One Planet? Is that just for Sundays, the most divided Day of the Week for Humans?
Until the Human Species, joins as One Nation, Killing Each Other, Wars and Rumors of Wars, and a Planetary Nuclear 'Arm'ageddon will happen. Who can stop Us? Jesus? God?
Humans have set down Toxic Pollution on land, sea, and in the Atmosphere, that will start Burning Planetwide, and fulfill Scriptures of a Planetary Judgment Day Fire done by Human Killer Sinners, not GOD or God.
God/Us, male and female High Tech Humans, in our Image in Genesis, are the 'Source/Father' of the Living Humans on Earth, not of the Dead.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | September 21, 2009 at 10:06 AM
I left out that Missouri Synod Lutherans went to the Altar, and the pastor put the wafers to our mouth, and held the common wine cup, as we drank. It was a moving and impressive moment.
After I left, they began having individual small glasses for the members to drink. I do not know if the pastor picked each one up or if the member did that.
"To the question, (right or left brain)
"Now, if you non-Christian members of other faith communities still are with me for some reason, perhaps you could tell me whether there are aspects of worship in your tradition that get out of balance in this way and what you're doing to restore that balance."
What is the Balance of Communion in Religion? Or any other Fallen Human Endeavor? The Whole Home Planet is out of Balance since the Noah/Atlantis Planetary Flood was the Earth's Axis was changed. No matter if Noah was right or left brained.
Before that the Land Mass was in One Place, and was in the Moderate zone. Mist watered the land, and it was after the Rain deluge for 1 year of the Flood, before Life began again, on a changed Earth Strata.
Rain, a Rainbow, and Seasons began in the changed land mass, that was now in other temperature zones.
Isn't Life exciting today, with all the Questions since we again have High Tech Science on Earth, like 'in the beginning', and during the Noah/Atlantis Generation?
So how with High Tech do Humans handle Right and Left Brain technology today.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | September 21, 2009 at 10:34 AM
Kansas Bob, I really liked what you had to say about Communion. I think you are right that many churches neglect the last part -- the intimate communication.
I also think Bill is right that weekly communion is better than once a month. After all, Jesus said As often as you are able, do this in remembrance of Me.
Which reminds me that my family and me haven't taken Communion for a while. Not being in organized religion at the moment, I'm afraid that sometimes I am forgetful.
So thank you Bill for reminding me!
Lynne, from yesterday, yes I agree that there are ways to encourage non-authoritarianism (or consensual living) without being oxymoronic and using violence and coercion. Mainly it's by living it out by example, and talking to people who see a difference in our lives and are interested.
And of course I like to think it does some good to share in discussion forums such as this one. :)
Posted by: Susan | September 21, 2009 at 11:06 AM
I wouldn't know if an approach to religion is left or right brain oriented - feather brained more like !
My own experience of being brought up in a Methodist/Church of England family is that most Methodist preachers were a darn sight better educated and more fun to listen to than the Anglican.
Here's a famous send-up of a typical Sunday morning sermon as delivered by the irreverent Alan Bennet in the popular show "Beyond the Fringe."
Note...his chosen Bible text "And Esau was a hairy man an Jacob a smooth man".....has absolutely nothing to do with the "substance " of his sermon !
Posted by: Red Biddy | September 21, 2009 at 11:38 AM
About abortion -- I agree with the pro-lifers that human life begins at conception so abortion is usually murder.
But I have concerns, in our current legal/political climate, about the implications of making what's going on inside a woman's body the public's "business."
As a homebirther, I'm aware that there are obstetricians who'd like to make it a felony for a woman to intentionally give birth at home. I think one big reason they haven't been successful in gaining the degree of control they'd like over pregnant women, is that legally, a woman's uterus is her own private property.
As much as I hate that there are some women deciding to abort their children, I was very glad to have the freedom to assess the risks of hospital versus homebirth for myself and my unborn child (I only had my second at home), and to make my own decision (actually in my case my husband and I decided together).
Anyone who's observed non-human pregnant mammals, knows that the mothers usually go off and prepare some quiet, safe, and comfortable spot to give birth in. When humans are too interfering, this often has very sad results.
But human mammals don't always get the same respect that most of us have learned to bestow upon other mammals giving birth, it seems there are always those who'd like to enforce their own opinions about what's healthier and safer.
I knew my children were human from the moment of conception -- but I'm rather glad that from a legal standpoint, they were part of MY body while I carried them, so I got to call the shots. While I think making a woman's uterus public property might very well save some lives, it would also very likely have negative implications for homebirthers, and might even increase governmental control of families in other ways that we can't forsee at this time.
Posted by: Susan | September 21, 2009 at 02:02 PM
Not to change the subject nor take any of Bill's time, but I thought readers here may like to listen to Diane Rehm's show from this morning. She interviewed Dr. Harvey Cox, professor at Harvard Divinity School. The title of the program is 'The Future of Faith'. http://wamu.org/programs/dr/09/09/21.php#27929
Yesterday, I also saw a preview showing of Ken Burns' "The National Parks' that will be showing on public TV starting Sunday. The first segment is entitled 'The Scripture of Nature', the story of John Muir's influence on the saving of Yosemite Valley as a national park. Lots of spiritual content.
Posted by: Harry | September 21, 2009 at 02:59 PM
Interesting interview with Karen Armstrong on NPR this afternoon, she has a new book out: The Case for God. I was particularly interested to hear that even when she was a nun she could never find anything,or anyone to pray to - just nothing there !
Can't believe Bill is as High church as he makes out he is in to-day's blog. In Protestanism (or so I was taught) the more often you "do" Holy Communion/Last Supper/Eucharist whatever you want to call it, the closer you are to Roman Catholicism - your desire to "do it" weekly,smacks of Popism, Bill !
I totally agree with Cole that pretending to eat a (dead) guys flesh and blood is morbid but as a gardener I use a lot of Blood Meal and Bone meal on my garden as fertilizer which connects to the ancient pagan ritual of human sacrifice for the good of the crops. Although we now know that blood and bone, whether animal or human is an excellent natural source of nitrogen and phosphates.
Posted by: Red Biddy | September 21, 2009 at 05:20 PM
"The title of the program is 'The Future of Faith'."
When All Scripture and Myth are translated with High Tech Science, No One will need Faith anymore to Believe in Religious Gods, and Hope for Life After Death in a Supernatural Heaven.
Today we have Faith in the People that make these High Tech Vehicles, Operations, Medicine, and all High Tech Inventions
We have Faith in All our High Tech Knowledge today, that Humans did not have 100 years ago. Flying in the air and out into Space is Fact today, like the Human God/Us in our Image in Genesis did.
Humans today also have High Tech Knowledge to make a Fetus in the Lab and Clone Animals. We should be Cloning Humans like God/Us, with Perfect Genetic and Physical Characteristics, instead of all the Defective Inherited Traits of Body Birth Killers.
And using Stem Cells to correct many Genetic and Physical Defects from Body Birth. We need a High Tech Womb to Finish making Perfect Humans by the Supernatural Knowledge of High Tech, to be like God/Us, Male and Female Clone Peace Helpmeet Humans.
The God/Us in Genesis, Flew in Supernatural Chariots, Created All Life Species on Earth, Supernaturally, and a made a Human Female from a Male Rib. What is supernatural about that, that High Tech Humans could do, if they quit making Nuclear Bombs?
We are still using our Minds like Humans 100 years ago, instead of looking at all the Supernatural Miracles Humans have made, while misusing their High Tech to Pollute the land, and make nuclear bombs on land and sea. That is not how to be Godly, like our God/Us Human Peace Ancestors.
Being Killer Humans is wasting all our LIFE Resources on Death, instead of for Eternal Physical Life After Birth on Planets and in Spaceships, like our Human Ancestors God/Us.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | September 21, 2009 at 05:27 PM
It would not save lives. We've been down that road before abortion was made legal. We just had back alley abortions instead so really there were MORE deaths because adult women were also dying.
Think about what would happen if homebirth had been illegal when you had your kids. Most likely you would have done it anyway, but you'd have a harder time finding a safe place to do it and a harder time finding a knowledgeable midwife. Same with abortion - if you make it illegal you don't make it impossible you just make it more dangerous. (Personally I feel safer in a hospital, but I've had pre-eclampsia both times I was pregnant.)
If you want to reduce abortions you stop wasting time with useless and draconian legislation and do what you can to encourage better and higher education for girls and women. Because that's the one thing that actually WORKS.
Posted by: Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org | September 21, 2009 at 05:38 PM
Lynne/Susan, re your discussion on authoritarianism Lucretia Mott (Quaker preacher) said it best "Truth for Authority not Authority for Truth" - stick that up on a wall somewhere !!!
Susan said (AUTHORORITIVELY) last week-end that she was CONVINCED that the roots of depression were caused by a disconnect from God....
Don't you know Susan that clinical depression, bi polar disorder and many other mental disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain ? God belief is no cure or help when mental illness is medically based and thanks to modern medical research there are now many medications that help control these disorders and work much more effectively than"God" who if you have to believe in such a "being" created the disorders in the first place. Yet another example of how intelligent (or loving) this imaginary friend probably is.
Posted by: Red Biddy | September 21, 2009 at 05:45 PM
Lynne, you may be right that illegalizing abortions would kill more people than it would save. The point I was trying to make was that I just think it would be overall very damaging to make women's reproductive organs "public domain" anyhow. Even if it DID prevent some babies from being aborted.
I don't like it that our nation has such a high abortion-rate -- but I would rather get at the root of the problem, because I DO see it as a problem, and highly-unnatural, that so many women want to abort their children. It makes more sense to me to find out why this is happening, and work to correct whatever situations are interfering with the mother-child bond, than it does to have the government take ownership of women's bodies.
Even though I understand that working to correct the root problems, isn't a sure-fire guarantee that women will behave as "I" think they should. I think we just need to be willing to do our part in making a more child-friendly society, and then leave it up to individuals to make their own choices. There are just too many people, such as the obstetricians I mentioned, who are eagerly looking for any "in" they can find to impose their opinions re: what kind of prenatal care women should have and where and how they should give birth, for me to see more reproductive legislation as a good thing.
Red Biddy, I guess sometimes I "feel" really convinced about my opinions -- but I honestly don't feel I have an authoritative right to dictate how others should deal with any depressed feelings they may be having. I should have made it more clear that I was just reflecting on my own personal experience. I tend to feel more depressed when I am feeling alone and disconnected from others.
Posted by: Susan | September 21, 2009 at 08:10 PM
Red Biddy: (last night)
".. and thanks to modern medical research there are now many medications that help control these disorders ( clinical depression, etc), and work much more effectively than "God" who if you have to believe in such a "being" created the disorders in the first place.
Body Birth Created these Genetic and Physical Defects, not God/Us our High Tech Human Ancestors with High Tech Science. They Reproduced the Perfect Genetic and Physical Adam and Eve Colony by High Tech Science.
The GOD that made the Elements that make the Universe and LIFE in it, does join the seeds of All Life together.
Two Ways to plant the Human seed: In a High Tech Womb, or the Female Womb.
Susan (last night):
"Even though I understand that working to correct the root problems, isn't a sure-fire guarantee that women will behave as "I" think they should."
Jesus came up with a solution to the Root Problem. Celibate Males.
Primitive Humans and Educated Humans use the Reproduction Act also for sex for Pleasure. They say God made male and female organs for Reproduction. But Pleasure Sex has Little Reproduction Control.
So Earth without Male Control of their seed, has almost 7 Billion Humans, with many starving humans, mostly mothers and children.
With High Tech Human Reproduction, Perfect Humans can be reproduced, in a High Tech Womb. And Animal Reproduction can be controlled.
Male and Female Human Clones should not Reproduce, and with High Tech Regeneration, Humans can Live Forever on High Tech Planets and in Spaceships.
Humans should spread this High Tech Good News, of Eternal Physical Life After Birth on Planets and in Spaceships, instead of the Religious Eternal Life After Death.
Posted by: Dolores Lear | September 22, 2009 at 05:56 AM
Come on, Bill. Punk rock is for everybody.
Posted by: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13001510 | September 22, 2009 at 01:13 PM
In the church that Jesus started when he walked the Earth, worship included the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. A second generation Christian, Justin Martyr wrote: "On the day dedicated to the sun, they gather in common. As long as time permits the memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read. Then the presider gives a warning that you should follow these good examples. Then we all rise and offer prayers, then bread is brought forward with wine. Then the presider gives thanks and the people respond and give their ascent with 'Amen'. Then there is the distribution to each and the participation in the Eucharistic elements, which are also sent to the deacon to those who are absent."
St. Irenaeus who studied under St Polycarp who studied under St John called it the new sacrifice in the new covenant.
This was before there was a Bible. Additionally Jesus predicted many disciples would leave him over the teaching of the Eucharist (Calvin, Luther?)
Posted by: trapblock | September 23, 2009 at 05:30 PM