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The Eucharist August 8, 2006

Posted by Matt in Church, Liturgy, Sacrament.

It’s the first Sunday of the month (well, it was when I thought up this post)… Must mean that it is time to chat about Communion. Yes, I admit that I am a Methodist and that as a Methodist I believe that Communion is something that should only happen once a month… Oh, wait!!

Quoting John Wesley (and let’s face it, if you ever want to get through to the Methodists, you are going to have to quote Wesley):

it is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can

What?!? Duty?!? “Often as he can”?!? But if you have Communion too often, it becomes less sacred…

A Third objection against constant communion is, that it abates our reverence for the sacrament. Suppose it did? What then? Will you thence conclude that you are not to receive it constantly? This does not follow. God commands you, “Do this.” You may do it now, but will not, and, to excuse yourself say, “If I do it so often, it will abate the reverence with which I do it now.” Suppose it did; has God ever told you, that when the obeying his command abates your reverence to it, then you may disobey it? If he has, you are guiltless; if not, what you say is just nothing to the purpose. The law is clear. Either show that the lawgiver makes this exception, or you are guilty before him.

Hello? Wesley is battling the same arguments in 1733. It’s now 2006. (That’s 273 years ago.) My campus minister passes me a copy of Circuit Rider, a magazine intended for the pastorate in the United Methodist Church. This month’s issue just so happens to deal almost solely with the sacrament of Communion. And wouldn’t you know it, I hear the same arguments being addressed. Though this time, it’s not John Wesley fighting back. It’s Will Willimon (PDF warning):

Celebrate more frequently! Holy Communion is the normal food of Christians.  Churches that celebrate this sacrament more frequently value it more highly.

Why are we still having to tell people this? Why doesn’t Protestantism take up its Reformation background and actually change things towards the way they are supposed to be? I’ve heard various ideas as to why: It’s too Catholic, Our pastorate isn’t educated enough, Our congregants aren’t educated enough, We don’t have enough time and on and on and on.

Am I the only person who thinks that this is simply abserd? Guess not.

As a side note, my own community here in Clemson, SC took these words to heart and has actually started a weekly Communion and Healing service (theological considerations aside, when is the Youth going to have their turn?). They also had a true Service of Word and Table this past Sunday. It excites me. Things are actually changing, even in my aged community.

More thoughts later…

Grace and Peace,
Matt Lemieux



1. Craig Widener - August 16, 2006

Well, Matt, I was born and baptized into the Methodist Church long before it became the United Methodist Church. By the time I was confirmed (at age 13) I had developed a “high” view of the Eucharist. In that act I always knew that Jesus was present in some special way. By the time I graduated from high school I knew that the quarterly celebrations of the sacrament were not sufficient for my worship needs (and probably at variance with the practice of the early Church). I easily found the answer to my dilemma in the Episcopal Church. All of this is to say that in answer to the subjective judgment: “But if you have Communion too often, it becomes less sacred…” my subjective response is that in the course of over 40 years of weekly Communion, the Lord’s Supper has become even more sacred and necessary to my devotional life. If frequent Communion, the gathering of God’s people around the table to share the bread and cup which are the body and blood of Jesus, becomes less sacred, then it follows that secular family meals become less sacred and relevant the more times you eat together. Perhaps families should take their meals individually and only get together around the table once in every whip snitch.

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