Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Communion

I encountered something distinctly troubling Sunday: news of a church that, in an attempt to accommodate those whose background involves receiving the Lord's Supper (or Communion or the Eucharist, whatever you want to call it) every week, would soon feature a place where anyone so inclined could take Communion solo without bothering anyone else.

No muss, no fuss.

No concept of sacrilege, either.

Shouldn't this be an obviously bad idea? It's called "Communion" by some at least, and the communion is not just with God but with our brothers and sisters in the Lord, even those not blessed to be in our church or denomination. Yet it is the people next to us in the pew or the line who are the most evident reminders of what it's about. Paul told the Corinthians not to go at their own pace but to wait for the others:

"When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat,
for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else." (1 Cor 11:20-21a)

"So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other." (1 Cor 11:33)

If there are people around you and you have your own private service, so to speak, isn't that wrong? (Sometimes you simply are alone, but that's a different matter.)

Beyond this, there is a great casualness about what is supposed to be a holy thing. This should be a solemn moment, but it's reduced to the convenience of a drive-through window at McDonald's. We have lost such sacredness as remains for non-liturgical Protestants, and even the liturgical set have their frivolous group.

Now, what makes this morbidly hilarious is that the some of the very people promoting this idea have been making a lot of noise about doctrinal purity and the fundamentals of the faith.

About the only upside here is that Satan may be incapacitated with laughter.

So, what to do other than gripe? Pray. I'm afraid these people wouldn't listen to an opposing view, probably even from God, but prayer is the only answer.

For the rest of you, as you receive communion next time--surrounded by your brothers and sisters and connected backwards in time all the way to the upper room where they first heard, "This is my body"; sideways to people receiving communion at the same time, even if elsewhere; and forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb of which this is the foretaste--pray for these people who have sacrificed the inconvenient glory of community for the convenient desolation of isolation, cut off from the Body and dishonoring the Head.

Lord, have mercy on us all.


cafaristeir said...

Last Thursday, I was at my grandmother's burial and therefore, I received the Communion from my Uncle who is Deacon and who was acting as celebrating priest (Even in Northern Lorraine, where the Church is still backed by the State, there seems to be not enough "true priests"....)
So, this was a kind of "do-it-yourself communion" within the family circle !

Steve said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother. A thousand years ago or more, there were apparently "mass-priests" who, due to a lack of clergy in parts of Britain, acted as celebrants despite not being full priests. I encountered that while studying Old English several years ago.

However, you had a celebrant and probably other participants--your uncle at least and presumably other family members. What has been proposed, as I understand it, is a table with the elements left out for whoever wanders by and feels like partaking.

For me that's a problem: the Eucharist was a covenant meal, and it was perhaps the most corporate item of corporate worship. There are sick people, for example, who need the elements brought to them, but they are exceptions--they don't choose to be away from the assembly.

cafaristeir said...

Well, I agree. Etymologically, this cannot be called a "Communion" anymore, since there is nothing "common" !!

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