The centrality of communion

Image result for communion service

Life gets interesting about the time you turn three. In the midst of sentences that are 75% intelligible, the average three-year-old punctuates conversation with the question “why?”

Unfortunately, for most people the magic fades by the time we enter school, a system that rewards right answers over good questions. By adulthood, “why?” has been replaced with “what?”. We do what we’re told, or what we’ve always done, or whatever it takes to get paid.

In the church, lack of inquiry promotes institutional religion. Beautiful practices intended to draw us together, and to Christ, becoming hollow, individual routines. Take, for example, the sacred ordinance of Communion. The word comes from the Latin for sharing, and is the root for communication (sharing ideas) and community (sharing experience).

Regrettably, communion has become a victim of the casual and quick service culture in some churches. This beautiful celebration has been stripped of it value the way Solomon’s Temple was stripped of it’s gold. It’s become a plaster shell of what it used to be. Where it’s still practiced faithfully, the event is often a brief and shallow appendage to the main event.



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Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One

The most well-known hymn in America, “Amazing Grace,” by the former slaveholder John Newton, contains a line that many people stumble over.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!

The hymn may be popular, but the sentiment is not. Few Americans consider themselves “wretches” of moral repugnance and debasement. We like to think of ourselves as basically good, with a few flaws; not fundamentally bad, with few virtues to save us.

Some Christians believe it would be good to remove unnecessary offense by downplaying human sinfulness, but such a move severs the root of what makes grace so powerful. It is precisely because we’re bad, not good, that God’s love in sending his Son to die for our sins is so significant.

The trouble is, grace is unimaginable in a world where everyone believes grace is deserved. And when grace is transformed into entitlement, the definitions change, for both those inside and outside the church.

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