On the subject of wine and bread…

In Christianity, Christianity, Ecclesiology, theology on March 30, 2010 at 6:00 am


On the subject of wine and bread…

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted his thoughts on the Evangelical Church and Communion. I found his post thought-provoking, noble and well spoken, though it apparently caused such a fervent response that he was urged by the leadership of his church to take it down. (It’s a shame when the church cannot partake of healthy dialogue regarding the elements of the faith. I happen to believe that even flat-out emotional debate is good from time to time, but maybe that’s just me.)

At some point, an argument was made for using pre-packaged communion elements based on saving the Church money that could be used for other ministries.

Was someone really suggesting that pre-packaged elements are cheaper? Surely not. More convenient, perhaps. Cheaper than bread, juice and reusable cups, (be that glass or metal, chalice or cup) no. That argument is just plain silly.

But, before this conversation goes any further, I think it is worth noting that my friend was commenting on the Evangelical Church as a whole, and the shift he has seen away from the sacrificial elements being taken in a reverent way. This wasn’t an indictment on any one local church, but rather a question of how we, as The Church (I know, there goes Rob on an ecumenical kick again) reverence our most sacred of rituals.

That brings me, of course, to the sacred ritual itself. There is nothing in our Church history that is more sacred and intimate than the taking of communion. Keep in mind that many of your brothers and sisters throughout history gave their lives rather than give up this very thing.

When I think about communion, I tend to try and find something that resonates with me in the same way…. In this case, I liken it to making love. That’s right. Giggle and blush if you must, but that’s the truth.

In a marriage, there is no greater intimate moment than making love to your spouse. It is the pinnacle of togetherness. It is the very physical act of saying, “I love you and I want to be as close to you as I can possibly be.” For the Christian, no ritual comes closer to that kind of commitment than taking the elements.

So, think about your wife for a moment. Do you prefer to make love to her in a cozy bed and breakfast, where the candles are lit and the rose petals have been set up across the room, or do you prefer a rent-by-the-hour motel? I think your wife could answer easily, which matters more to her. Now, you COULD make the argument that the act is the same in both places, right? I mean, either way you are getting it on…

But, one just feels a little more loving than the other, yes? One environment says, “I love you and I want you and you matter to me.” And the other says, “My own physical gratification is most important, and let’s get this over with.”

So, why would we look at communion any differently? Why would we say, “The way we do this doesn’t matter as long as our hearts are right?” It doesn’t make any sense. Of course it matters how and when we take communion!

Would you say, “Making love to my wife is so awesome. I’m only going to make love to her quarterly because otherwise it would lose its specialness.” No way! Because it is special, you want to join with her in it as often as you can, right? Right.

Look, I’m not attacking the local church I attend on Sunday mornings. I love it there, and I believe in the Church and her leadership. I’m amazed by the compassion and heart of the pastor and the people. What I am saying is that like anything else, it is healthy to reexamine what we do and why we do it from time to time and make changes that are in line with what we believe. In this case, we have a very excellent record in scripture as to how communion was received. There is no need to stray in the name of convenience.

What my friend wrote resonated deep within me, and it made me joyful, not angry or bitter to know that people still care about our sacred rituals.

Communion is special in my opinion, and I love it enough to do it often and right.


How Hard Do You Work?

In Christianity, pentecostalism, Social Justice, theology on December 31, 2009 at 3:28 pm


how hard DO you work?

Of course the big question everyone seems to have an opinion about is the healthcare debate.

Some people love our healthcare system, wouldn’t change a thing. it’s just perfect. (these people more than likely work for an insurance or pharmaceutical company)

Most seem to agree that we have a high level of health care in America, it’s not perfect but we have many of the best doctors and scientists in the world practice and research here. Most would also agree the bureacracy of insurance companies is ridiculous and it’s become way too expensive to afford healthcare outside of an employer-based benefit.

Where we seem to disagree is in just WHO should have healthcare. Some think everyone should have access to it (i.e. education, electricity, etc). Others think that only those who can pay for it, should have it. Is healthcare a product to be consumed or a service to be provided?

Last night I was talking with my Dad about his family. He had an older sister who passed away before he was born when she was only a year old. This was during the depression of the 30’s and they lived in eastern Kentucky where there was obviously no health care system. She died from diarrhea. They had no access to a doctor or hospital who could help this dehydrated little girl. That is almost unfathomable in 2009 to think a child in America would die from that so I guess we have progressed some.

Some might say, “not my problem” or “if her parents had worked harder they could have gone to a doctor” or “why should I have to pay for this little girl?”

This is the point in the discussion where this person begins to rant about abuse of the welfare system and how “those people” (whoever “they” are) are just lazy and want to take advantage of the system. Again, I think most would agree there is some serious abuse in our welfare system. The rant then usually includes some form of the rhetorical question: “Do you know how HARD I work? Why does the government get to take that away and give it to someone who doesn’t work?”
At this point, I usually want to ask, “how hard DO you work?” Like an old standup audience waiting to hear the punchline. “I work SO hard ….(rim shot)”

What has really bothered me is the way Christians argue about this issue. I think Chrisitans start with at least 2 presuppositions in this discussion that basically revolve around possession.

1 – Some presuppose that all that they have worked for belongs to them. They have worked hard, they have earned it, they get to decide what to do with it. They do business the old fashioned way…they EARN it. This is logical and makes sense. No free lunches. Everything has a price. No pain no gain. (insert your own quip here). When the Sermon on the Mount is mentioned, these folks quote Proverbs or some Levitical rule. (They sometimes also confuse scripture with talk radio.)

2 – Others presuppose that they deserve nothing. All that they do “have” really belongs to God. Without him they would have absolutely nothing. They are recipients of grace and receive what they have with the realization that God gets to decide where it goes. If you want more, give it away. If you want to gain, you must lose. If you want to live, you must die. The parable of the workers fits them (Matthew 20:1-16).

I think the people in group #1 have missed it. I am guilty as all Americans are of consumerism and selfishness, but I can still believe that part of our very existence on this earth, is to follow Christ’s example to care for those that nobody else cares about. I don’t know what that means in terms of national budgets and tax cuts and employer incentives. I don’t know if that is accomplished through socialized medicine or strict reform on health insurance companies. I just know the Church used to be the people who started hospitals and schools and orphanages and you name it. If nobody else wants you or will help you, the Church is supposed to embrace you. Somewhere along the way, we got out of that business. Maybe someone realized you can’t make any money taking care of “those people”.

I don’t have any answers to the debate. But I think if the Church took care of people, the government wouldn’t have to.

Pet Peeves

In Christianity, Church of God, pentecostalism, Pop-Culture on December 19, 2009 at 3:46 am


Pet Peeves: Forks/Teeth, Pantyhose/Sandals, Pastoral #FB Status

I have more than 3, but tonight I want to explore 3 pet peeves that I have.

1 – Forks on teeth – I absolutely HATE the sound of forks being scraped on teeth. It sends chills through my entire body.

A particularly long grind on the ole metal fork can make me fall to the floor in a fetal position. Just thinking about it gives me chills. It’s not just on MY teeth, but the teeth of anyone near me. The last time I went to the dentist they had a new instrument which they said replaced their toothbrush. It was basically a piece of metal that vibrated really fast. After 10-15 minutes of the dental hygiene equivalent of waterboarding, I was prepared to tell every secret I knew or thought I knew. I think at one point during the torture I may have shared Osama Bin Ladin’s current location.

2 – Pantyhose with open toed shoes – really grosses me out. I assume this is not part of appropriate women’s fashion, but even if it is, it just looks gross to me. I mean seriously? If it’s cold enough outside to warrant the nylons, then perhaps it also warrants shoes that cover the whole foot.

Pantyhose and sandals defy any logic in my mind. This is from the guy who has no problem when old men where dress socks with shorts or when people where socks with sandals. I can give a little there. Old men are exempt from any societal fashion norms, and white socks with sandals could be explaned as “European”. Pantyhose in general are fine. Maybe you want the “control” that panthose offer, they make things for that tht don’t have to be seen. No one (except Jessica Alba) should be wearing nude color stockings with open toed shoes.

3 – Pastors who use their FaceBook status (and/or Twitter) to talk about how “excited” they are about their next event/service – annoys me. FB and Twitter statuses can be cheesy enough without pastors thinking it’s a way to drum up excitement about church. “I’m really jazzed about service tomorrow at ________ Community Church located at 1000 Jim Bob Hwy” or “can’t wait to see what God does tomorrow at the 8am or 10:30 am service at _________ Church of My God”. Some at least try to be subtle about it like it’s not shameless promotion.

I don’t think a lot of people who are riding the fence about coming to your church/event are going to be swayed by your FaceBook status. I could be wrong but I think we have 1 of 2 things at play here: 1) they’re trying to psych themselves up about going to church or at least trying to put on the good face; 2) they’ve hit desperation stage of trying to increase their numbers and they figure shameless promotion can’t hurt. Have we gotten to the place where we really think a 140 characters or less promo is going to turn things around for your church?

We just beg people to come to church. Why? Seriously . . . why do we BEG people to come to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, or Wednesday evenings? I’ll just leave that question out there for you to answer honestly amongst yourselves.
“Well maybe the FB status just reminds people so they don’t forget?” you say. Do they have to be reminded when American Idol comes on? Do they forget when it’s payday? I don’t buy it.
I will now publish this post, which will update my Twitter and Facebook status to promote how excited I am about my newest blog entry!