The impact of Holy Communion

Today is Maundy Thursday, when Passion Week takes off.   In particular, this is the commemoration of the Last Supper of our Lord with His disciples, at which He instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion.

We Lutherans, of course, consider that the bread and wine convey the actual objective body and blood of the Risen Christ given for our salvation.  So of course Holy Communion is a huge deal for us, the very center of our spiritual lives, the tangible manifestation of the Gospel, of Christ giving His broken body and His shed blood “for you.”  My Reformed friends say that we only disagree on less important matters, such as the sacraments, but that only shows how different we are, since, to Lutherans, the sacraments are not less important!  That the Reformed think the sacraments are not so important is kind of the point for Lutherans.

But we have lots of readers from different theological traditions at this blog, and I’m glad of that.  For once, could we NOT ARGUE about the nature of this sacrament?  And instead just talk about its blessings.

Certainly Holy Communion is always a blessing, but can you tell about a time when receiving the Body and Blood of Christ had a particular impact on you?

I’d like to hear from non-Lutherans too, the whole range, from those who believe in transubstantiation to those who see the elements as mere symbols.  We usually consider Holy Communion in terms of what people believe it is–and quite rightly–but I’m curious about its effect on people, whatever their beliefs.

Again, NO ARGUING.  If an argument is made or breaks out or a criticism is launched against another commenter or church teaching or practice, I will delete the comment.  Just state your experience, perhaps including your theological tradition if that is not obvious, and then move on.

Maundy Wednesday?

This would harmonize an alleged inconsistency in the inerrant Bible:

Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University says discrepancies in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke as compared with John arose because they used an older calendar than the official Jewish one.

He concluded the date was 1 April AD33.

This could also mean Jesus’ arrest, interrogation and separate trials did not all take place on one night only.

Prof Humphreys believes his findings could present a case for finally fixing Easter Day to the first Sunday in April.

In his new book, The Mystery Of The Last Supper, the metallurgist and materials scientist uses Biblical, historical and astronomical research to address the fundamental inconsistency about the event.

While Matthew, Mark and Luke say the Last Supper coincided with the start of the Jewish festival of Passover, John claims it took place before Passover.

“This has puzzled Biblical scholars for centuries. In fact, someone said it was ‘the thorniest subject in the New Testament’,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

“If you look at all the events the Gospels record – between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion – there is a large number. It is impossible to fit them in between a Thursday evening and Friday morning.”

“But I found that two different calendars were involved. In fact, the four gospels agree perfectly,” he added.

Prof Humphreys argues that Jewish people would never have mistaken the Passover meal for another meal because it is so important.

He suggests that Matthew, Mark and Luke used an old-fashioned Jewish calendar – adapted from Egyptian usage at the time of Moses – rather than the official lunar calendar which was in widespread use at the time.

“In John’s Gospel, he is correct in saying the Last Supper was before the Passover meal. But Jesus chose to hold his Last Supper as a Passover meal according to an earlier Jewish calendar,” Prof Humphreys said.

The Last Supper was therefore on Wednesday, 1 April AD33, according to the standard Julian calendar used by historians, he concluded.

via BBC News – Jesus Christ’s Last Supper ‘was on a Wednesday’.

So Jesus was “old school,” following the older calendar, whereas most of the other Jews followed the more modern calendar.

Yet another new step in open communion

Thanks to nqb for alerting us to yet another new horizon of open communion:  not just communing other Christians, not just communing non-Christians, but communing people who are not even setting foot in a church:

Wednesday morning pastors from the Community United Church of Christ offered communion to any one who wanted to receive it on the corner of 6th and Daniel streets.

The church, which is located on 805 South Sixth Street, plans to set up every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for the rest of the Christian season of Lent, which goes until Easter.

“We decided we needed to bring the open table out to the people,” explained Rev. Leah Robberts-Mosser, who is the pastor of Community United Church of Christ (Community UCC).

The church said some churches restrict who can get communion.  Rev. Robberts-Mosser said they wanted everyone to have the opportunity to do so, and that’s why they took it out to the streets.

via Champaign Church Offering Communion On Street Corner – IllinoisHomePage.net.

The next step in open communion

Anglicans already share communion with other Christians.  In Canada, they are working on the next step:  Sharing communion with the unbaptized.  And people who follow other religions:

Canadian Anglicans will hold discussions this spring about whether baptism is necessary for taking part in communion — questioning a requirement of Christianity that has existed for 2,000 years.

“Official teaching is you have to be baptized first. But a number of clergy across the country feel strongly about this as an issue and many have approached their bishops about allowing for an ‘open table’ in which all could take communion,” said Archdeacon Paul Feheley, who is the principal secretary to Archbishop Fred Hiltz, head of the Anglican Church of Canada.

It will be discussed when the House of Bishops meet in April, but not as an official topic, he said.

The idea — already rejected as a dangerous step by more orthodox Anglicans — was raised in an article this week in the AnglicanJournal.com in which an Ontario church pastor argues that removing the requirement of baptism would help stop the decline in the number of Anglicans attending services.

Rev. Gary Nicolosi said that if Jesus did not discriminate about who he invited to his table, then the Church should follow his lead.

“How, in our multicultural and pluralistic society, can our churches be places of hospitality if we exclude table fellowship with the non-baptized? This is not an academic question,” wrote Rev. Nicolosi, the pastor at St. James Westminster Anglican Church in London, Ont., and an official Church consultant on how to build membership.

“In Canada, a growing number of the population is not baptized. Included are people from different religious traditions or people with no religious affiliation at all. Quite likely, some are our grandchildren or great-grandchildren, whose parents neglected or refused to have them baptized.

“How can the church effectively minister in a post-Christian world where a significant percentage of the population is not baptized? Some Anglican churches are attempting to meet this challenge by becoming open and inclusive faith communities, ready and willing to support people in their spiritual journeys.”

via Anglicans to consider opening communion to unbaptized | Holy Post | National Post.

HT:James Kushiner

Chef, cook, butler, host, and food

As we continue our survey of the Divine Service from John Pless’s Narrative Commentary, we come to Holy Communion:

PREFACE, SANCTUS, PRAYER, OUR FATHER

Drawn toward the gifts of Jesus’ body and blood, our hearts are lifted up in thanksgiving and praise as we anticipate the reception of the gifts that carry with them our redemption. The Sanctus brings together the song of heaven’s angels in adoration of the Holy Three-in-One and the acclamations of Palm Sunday; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.” In the prayer, we give thanks to the Lord for the redemption which He has secured for us by His cross; we ask Him to prepare us to receive that redemption in living and joyful faith. The Our Father, the prayer which Jesus taught His disciples to pray, is the “table prayer’ with which we come to the Lord’s Table.

CONSECRATION, PAX DOMINI, AGNUS DEI, DISTRIBUTION
The pastor speaks the Lord’s own words; these words give and bestow what they declare, the Body and Blood of Christ. The Sacrament of Jesus’ Body and Blood is the vehicle for peace. Showing them His wounds, the Risen Lord declared His peace is given us with the Lord’s Body and Blood. By sharing this “peace of the Lord” with each other, we lay aside all that stands in contradiction of the Lord’s testament. With the words of John the Baptist, the Agnus Dei confesses the mercy and peace that we receive from the Lamb of God in His Supper. We come to the Lord’s Table hungry and thirsty and He feeds us with His Body and refreshes us with His Blood. It is the Lord’s Supper. As Luther reminds us “Our Lord is at one and the same time chef, cook, butler, host, and food.”

via Grace Lutheran Church – Pastor’s Letter – March 2010.

Communing a dog

Consider not only this unspeakable sacrilege but the reason given for commiting it:

St. Peter’s Anglican Church has long been known as an open and inclusive place.

So open, it seems, they won’t turn anyone away. Not even a dog.

That’s how a blessed canine ended up receiving communion from interim priest Rev. Marguerite Rea during a morning service the last Sunday in June.

According to those in attendance at the historical church at 188 Carlton St. in downtown Toronto, it was a spontaneous gesture, one intended to make both the dog and its owner – a first timer at the church — feel welcomed. But at least one parishioner saw the act as an affront to the rules and regulations of the Anglican Church. He filed a complaint with the reverend and with the Anglican Diocese of Toronto about the incident – and has since left the church.

“I wrote back to the parishioner that it is not the policy of the Anglican Church to give communion to animals,” said Bishop Patrick Yu, the area bishop of York-Scarborough responsible for St. Peter’s, who received the complaint in early July. “I can see why people would be offended. It is a strange and shocking thing, and I have never heard of it happening before.

“I think the reverend was overcome by what I consider a misguided gesture of welcoming.”

via Can a dog receive communion? – thestar.com.

HT: Joe Carter

I realize that many churches do not have a high view of Holy Communion and so would not think this is a big deal. But Anglicans DO have a high view of Holy Communion! Not as high as Lutherans, but still. . . .


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