Head First: This is my blood (and it's sugar-free)...

Monday, July 25, 2005

This is my blood (and it's sugar-free)...

I was reading a discussion on another blog about Christians going into taverns and sharing Christ over a pitcher of beer (good beer, of course, not Budweiser). Well the discussion disintegrated into an argument over whether it's more appropriate to use real wine (with ALCOHOL!!!) or grape juice for communion. This got me thinking...

Isn't the idea of the Lord's Supper to remember Christ and the cross?

What does it matter if we use Diet Pepsi and Oreos, so long as our focus is on Christ?

One step further, since they were sitting down for a meal, and Jesus said, "As often as you do this, remember me." (my paraphrase), could an argument be made that Jesus wasn't calling for a regular "church" ritual at all, but asking to be remembered--to be made the central thought--each time we sit down to eat?

That sounds like a pretty New Testament line of thinking to me.

14 comments:

Steve said...

My buddy Josh suggested the other day when we were having lunch at a fine Mexican resturant, that maybe the new communion should be chips and salsa.

I agree that we need to focus on Christ and our hearts towards him. I get so hung up on the system and the methods and the church.

Pete Wingate said...

While I understand the intent of this blog to be somewhat freeing to the church-chained masses, I certainly take issue with the extremety of thought (ie- Diet Pepsi/Oreos).

When Christ (not the church) instituted the Lord's Supper, it was for the specific intent of remembering Christ, and His sacrifice on the cross. While it is true that we are to focus on Christ, I think we can become downright sacrilegious in our attempts to not be too "churchy".

The significance of bread and wine date back to the actual Passover as well as the manna provided in the wilderness. It is a specific institution from God Himself. During communion, the pure blood of the grape, represents the sinless, incorruptible blood of the Son of God. The unleavened bread represents the sinless, broken and beaten body of our Lord as He suffered in our place, to take away the sins and sicknesses of fallen man. His substitutionary sacrifice is so massive and holy, it is quite deserving of reverence, not only in our thoughts toward Christ, but in our physical preparations for the meal He commands. Hardly a thing to be denegrated with soda and cookies.

Of course we should remember Christ when we eat, when we work, when we play... pretty much all of the time. But in this instance, Christ was talking about the specific meal of Communion.

Being casual about the directives and specifics of the Lord do not, in any way reflect New Testament thinking. If they had, Christ would have been much more casual about His approach to that final meal. (And it would be doubtful that He will be casual about it when we eat it with Him in His kingdom).

I guess what I am saying is this: Just because you don't care for the "organizational church", don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Ask yourself, "If communion has become so stale and ritualistic so that it has no meaning, is it the fault of the "organizational church" or is it reflective of the condition of my own heart?"

My suggestion is to read the accounts of Jesus' last supper along with Paul's account to the Corinthians. Purify your heart and motives before God and take communion every day for a month. Make it a holy time. Research the significance of the elements. Discern the Lord's body and find the beauty in this blessed sacrament.

As you search your heart, I think you'll find that there is no room for this modern-day, free-thinking cynicism, if you're truly focusing on Christ.

Finding fault with the church is of no value if no one will stepup and institute change. Unfortunately, we cannot change the church as a whole. We can only change ourselves.

Thanks Dorsey for a thought-provoking blog.

dorsey said...

Pete,

My intent here is not to free the masses nor to cause revolt. My aim is to provoke thinking and questions and discussion. If I went over the top with my soda/cookies remark, that was not my goal. But had I not made that remark, you very well may have not left your very excellent response :-) Thanks.

Peace.

dh said...

I totally got the point of your message wonderful thought. However, I agree with Pete on this one. I think the point is (and what you were trying to make) a church or even in a Christian home we must do the Lord Supper often and "remember" Jesus's death and resurrection.

At my old church that I attended for 1 1/2 years we never had communion. My wife finally told me this and I have no idea why I never recognized this before. She imparted to me a realization that made me cringe at the thought of no communion so much that her and I attend another church. Man, I love my wife. Now I know why God said "it is not good for man to be alone". :)

Pete Wingate said...

Dorsey, after reading my response to your post, I guess I'm guilty of going a little over the top.

I get what you're saying. I really do. So much of church is a waste of time and energy, in the name of ritualistic beating-of-the-head-against-the-wall-isms.

But still, there is so much beauty in many of the traditions of the church. Today's believers have thrown out the hymns, the prayers and many of the sacraments that have added form, function and effectiveness to our worship.

I guess I tend to defend these things; especially the communion, as it is one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented "traditions" in the church.

I say all that to say this... I agree with your view. I just would have chosen a different example.

It is truly unfortunate that one of the worst examples of Christianity is the church. We tend to kill every life-giving thing that we embrace. God forgive us.

My response for all disgruntled Christians is not to leave the church, though. Its to get plugged in to a good Bible-believing church, and become the best, most faithful, purest hearted churchmember there is.

Great blog!

da said...

Great encouragement Pete. Your final sentence is a great admonishment to ALL believer and non-believers alike so that they can be Believers and live like Christ wants us to live. :) Man I love this site. :) Dorsey, can you post some new posts. Your site and the comments you say are such a breath of fresh air to me. :)

dorsey said...

Hey Pete,

I truly appreciate your response. Sadly, I tend to agree that the church represents Christ most pitifully. I read somewhere that Gandhi once said, "I was very interested in Jesus Christ, until I met a Christian." I cannot verify that he said it, but I can understand why he would.

The Bible says that the world will know us by the love we have for one another.

DA,

I'm pacing myself, dude (lol). While I'm waiting for a flash of brilliance (haha), check out my brother's new blog, www.demerging.blogspot.com. You'll like it.

Peace.

Steve said...

Pete writes:

My response for all disgruntled Christians is not to leave the church, though. Its to get plugged in to a good Bible-believing church, and become the best, most faithful, purest hearted churchmember there is.

Pete, it appears you have a small-minded and limited view of the church. I understand that what you mean by this is that I should not leave the organization called the "local church" if I am disgruntled. And what advice do you give me..."get plugged in"?? What do you mean by "get plugged in"? What does that look like?

And what is a "good Bible-believing church" anyway? Most churches in my area would say they believe in the Bible, but little of what I see is New Testament in practice. Most of the traditions I observe in my church are man-made ones anyway....right?

And you want me to "become the best, most faithful, purest hearted churchmember there is." What does that mean? "Become the best"? Do I need to get into the business of comparing myself with others? I can hear it now, "I am the best Christian at my church?"

"Become the most faithful"? Does that mean that I attend everything that is offered or serve as an usher or board member (see Dorsey's last post for that concept of that type of a "pure-hearted" leader). Do you want me to teach a Sunday School class? How do you measure faithfulness? Who is my faithfulness towards, God or my church?

"Become the purest hearted". What's the plumb line of a pure heart? And you throw the term our "churchmember" so nonchalantly. That very phrase indicates so much of your viewpoint. As if the church is something that I can join, become a member, pay my dues. Some people are in...and some people are out. Some people measure up and others don't. What "man-made" hoops do I have to jump through at your church to become a "member"?

Pete, I know I have asked a ton of questions. Please understand that I mean most of them to be rhetorical just for yours (and others) consideration. I do not expect you to answer them all...if any. It just seems that your comments to those of us that are disgruntled are a little condescending. You seem to be saying that I am disgruntled because I am not "faithful enough" or pure-hearted enough" or "plugged-in" enough. Your reponses to those of us that are disillusioned with the church are "pat-answers" that just don't fly.

Joshua Sager said...

I recently was told that if I wanted to "change" the church, I would have to do it from the inside. The problem I see with that is that I would only have a small voice governed by others. Can I truly change the church from within without breaking the church or being kicked out? I guess I just don't want to submerge myself inside the church anymore.

It is like going to summer camp. You leave your normal life for a week and surround yourself with "Christian" activities and talk. Your life "totally changes"! Well, kind of. When you come back home, you slowly fall back into your old routines. So was going to camp effective? Sure. Did it totally change my life? Not totally.

If I lived at Summer Camp 24/7, life would be awesome. Maybe even PERFECT! But life at Camp isn't totally real. People always come back saying they are now on a spiritual "high". The "highs" ALWAYS fade.

So... a 24/7 camp lifestyle isn't totally real. It does have a lot of good to share, but it becomes fairy-taleish. It is just not real.

I want to be the guy who experiences Christ in and out of the church. With Christians and with "non-believers".

We need to change things inside and out of the church walls. There is a lot outside of the churches four walls.

pete wingate said...

Wow. That wasn't my intention at all. I didn't realize I was being condescending. But Steve, you also came "loaded for bear".

The topic of my post was the sanctity of communion. I was attempting to share some insights into the some of the beauties that still exist in the church.

Yes. I believe in the church. I believe in the institution of the church. I believe it is an inherently good institution. What's ruined it? Human nature. Judgementalism and intolerance have made the church almost unbearable.

Funny, though. That same judgementalism and intolerance makes your post unbearable too!

I never said you were unfaithful or not pure-hearted. You said that! In fact, I wasn't even addressing you.

Okay. You're disgruntled. Okay. I did give pat-answers that sound churchy. But, don't blame me and my congregation for your thin skin.

Understand. I appreciate where you're coming from. But does your "sourgrapes" attitude of leaving the church and telling everyone else who left the church how bad it it, really make a difference?

Josh, why can't you be the one bad apple that spoils the whole bunch? Why can't you make a difference in the church? It sound to me like you're more afraid of rejection than of making a difference.

Keep reaching out to those who are lost. But, show them the love of GOd. Don't turn them into cynics like yourselves. Let them learn that on their own...

Steve said...

Hey Pete...dialogue is good on this and many more topics I hope you agree. And I did come loaded you are correct. Sorry if it appeared I was coming on strong...but there was so much in the paragraph I chose to comment on from your earlier post, that I couldn't resist. But you were the one that was handing out advice to us "disgruntled Christians" so I thought I would respond, being that I am one.

And I really didn't know asking questions was a sign of being judgmental or intolerant? It's seems funny you would comment on my "thin skin" when all I did was ask a few questions and I am labeled as judgemental.

For the record, nowhere in my post did I say or infer that I was unfaithful or not pure-hearted. But I am. Who isn't? But, yes, you were addressing me when you said you had advice for "disgruntled Christians". I would add a lot of "dis's" to what I am experiencing... disappointed, disillusioned, disenchanted to name a few. Yet, nowhere do I advocate for people to leave the church. Nowhere!

Like you, I believe in the church. I believe in the institution of the church. The church is, for the most part, my extended family. I believe, like you, that Human Nature has ruined the church. If I didn't, I would just walk away and not spend the time I do dialoging about it with others like yourself.

But I do not believe I have the power to turn anyone into anything, let alone a cynic. Plus I wouldn't advocate cynicism, since I do not believe by and large that most within the church are acting out of selfish motives. I just believe a lot of people are on auto-pilot, because "this is the way we've always done things." And this includes those even within the emergent church movement...we are taking new wine and putting it into old wineskins over and over again.

I do advocate skepticism. Question the tried and true. Question the manmade structures and traditions of the church. Question myself and the "pat answers" that I have been giving people for years.

So, you are right, this thread was about the sanctity of communion. Communion and Baptism are the two sacred sacraments given to us that will never grow old. I agree that we shouldn't cheapen them in any way, shape or form.

Pete, I was certain it wasn't your intention to be condescending. And it isn't my intention to be argumentative. I especially do not wish to take this thread down a path between you and I...I was just challenging some of your earlier statements and I appreciate that you felt comfortable enough to "challenge me" back. I need it and I welcome it. Lots of growing left to do over here....because as long as I have been in the church, I have never felt farther away. Feel free to track me down and email me Pete if you care to carry on the conversation further.

dorsey said...

Hey guys,

Don't go stealth on me. Continue this conversation right here. I benefit from this give and take. I don't blog because I think I have anything to offer. I do it because I think there's much to be gained from hearing you.

Steve, you and Josh are heroes of mine. Stupidchurchpeople.com and your podcast are a real encouragement to me. If I may be so bold as to make an observation, you should include some of the thoughts you posted here on SCP. Specifically,I think it would benefit many to hear you restate your belief in the institution of the church. That doesn't come through enough, and the result comes across to some people as sour grapes. From reading some of the responses, a number of people seem to assume you've left the church. Your message has the power to make a difference. My 2 cents, for what it's worth.

Thanks for speaking here, guys. Peace

Joshua Sager said...

The new podcast is all about this topic.

Keep rockin' it!

Son of many preachers said...

I absolutely LOVED this post. As for communion, make mine a pesto foccacia with a Midori Martini...

The point IS to remember Him, not to remember the food he ate and the beverage he drank!

Dear Lord, tradition becomes ritual and ritual sometimes meaningless habit.

Very provocative topics...

Keep it coming; I need this too!