Friday, March 07, 2008

Serving and experiencing Communion

This morning during my walk I was thinking about how Protestants disagree on the meaning of "literal." Take this verse for instance:
    "Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks and offered it to his disciples, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.' " Matt 26:27-28
There are similar passages in the other gospels. In the Church of the Brethren where I was baptized and which I attended until I was an adult, the "love feast" and communion were somewhat literal in the setting and was held only twice a year. There was a simple meal of a broth type soup, time for personal reflection, foot washing, sharing communion unleaven bread and grape juice. The women wore prayer coverings for the service, even if they didn't in every day life, even in the mid-90s, when I last attended while visiting my parents.

In the Lutheran Church (ELCA) we use wine, break bread which is baked by ladies of the church (formerly made by deaconesses and purchased in packages), and some congregations have communion once a week (Advent Lutheran on Kenney Rd), some once a month and more frequently during special seasons like advent and lent (UALC on Lytham Rd). Our church also offers grape juice for those who prefer it.

Lutherans take the passage more literally than the anabaptists, but not as literally as the Catholics. I'm not sure of the theology here, but Jesus says THIS IS so he is "in under around and through" the elements; they have not been miraculously changed into his actual body and blood; nor is the meal only a memorial to his life and death. Nor do Lutherans, or any other group I know, think it is important to reinact any part of the meal with the disciples, other than the bread and wine.

This morning I was thinking about my mother who died 8 years ago. If someone suggested I could spend a few minutes 1) looking at her photos, or 2) reading her letters, or 3) sitting in her robe at her kitchen table eating her favorite breakfast of cheese on toast, I would choose the third option. It has the touch, feel, taste and comfort of Mother, even if she isn't there in person. That's sort of how I think of the communion experience at UALC.

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