How to Take Communion

Communion Elements at Solomon's Porch - copyright Courtney Perry

My dissertation, like any, uses a lot of resources (390 footnotes, and counting) and tries to do a lot of things.  But it is primarily a proposal for a radically egalitarian ecclesiology, particularly reliant upon the theology of Jürgen Moltmann, and particularly possible in the still-young emerging church movement.

The practice of the Lord’s Supper is central to many emerging churches, as it is to many mainline, liturgical churches.  But, as with most traditional Christian practices, emerging church congregations have renegotiated both the meaning and the method of this sacrament.  My home church, Solomon’s Porch, may be at the forefront on this.  We practice a kind of pastiche version of communion, with the aspects of several different Christian traditions at play.

However, it is my contention that most emerging congregations have not gone nearly far enough in their renegotiation of the sacrament, and it is my hope that they will go much further toward making this rite, as Moltmann envisions it, a proclamation of eschatological hope.  Because, believe it or not, there won’t be any clergy in heaven.  So if at the Lord’s Table we are, “proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes again,” then that Table should be administered by all and open to all.

In fact, Moltmann, in The Church in the Power of the Spirit, lists six characteristics of the Lord’s Supper that he considers imperative:

[Read more…]

Anti-Jewish Rhetoric in the Gospel of John



As I wrote last week, I had the good fortune of co-leading the Solomon’s Porch sermon discussion on Sunday evening with Rabbi Joseph Edelheit — you can watch the full 50+ minute video here; it was streamed on UStream via my iPhone, so forgive the audio and video.

I had asked Joseph, who serves as a kind of resident rabbi to Solomon’s Porch, to join me because we were tackling the 18th chapter of the Fourth Gospel, in which Judas leads the Roman Guard to the garden to arrest Jesus.  We didn’t get through the whole chapter, being that Joseph and I — and many Porchians — are quite talkative.  In fact, we only got through 14 verses, and here are some of the points 0f interest: [Read more…]

Chiasms, Irony, and Misdirection in John 4

Last night, I once again had the pleasure to lead the sermon discussion at Solomon’s Porch.  It’s impossible to recount all of the wonderful, beautiful, insightful comments by so many people over two different worship gatherings, but here are a few thoughts.  (And if you’re so inclined, I streamed the 7pm sermon discussion from my phone and you can watch the archive of it at Ustream (warning: it’s over an hour long).)

The passage was John 4: 4-42, in which Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well at noon.  Here are some of the insights that I and others brought to this passage:

Nathan Clair mentioned on Facebook how important it seems that John juxtaposes this pericope with the one just before.  In that chapter, Nicodemus, a knowledgable Jew in good-standing, comes under dark-of-night to question Jesus.  Even with Jesus explaining and explaining, Nic doesn’t seem to get it.

Meanwhile, a Samaritan woman who is, both ethnically and theologically abhorrent to Jews, gets what Jesus is about.  Not at first, for course, but over the course of the chiastic dialogue in Act One of this passage.  Here’s how I diagrammed the passage last night: [Read more…]

Ending Genesis

The Binding of Isaac

At Solomon’s Porch, the faith community of which I am a part in South Minneapolis, we are coming to the end of a long slog through the fifty chapters of Genesis.  If you’re unfamiliar, at SP, we tend to work through a book of the Bible as a community, with the weekly “sermon time” being first shaped by a Sermon Discussion Group on Tuesday night and then a community-wide discussion at the weekly Sunday Gathering.

I didn’t make every Sunday of Genesis — I doubt anyone did.  But I made enough of them to get a feel for the book.  And I twice led the sermon time.  Once on one of the most theologically rich and controversial passages in the book — the “Binding of Isaac” in Genesis 22 — and one of the most mundane — the reunion of Joseph with his father.

I wrote about the first passage after I preached on it.  It was an intense evening that included one young mother, while nursing her child, telling all of us that she hated this part of the Bible.

The second passage, as I said, was less provocative.  But still — and here’s what I love about Solomon’s Porch — we had a great discussion.  For instance, why does the narration in Genesis 45 and 46 switch between referring the patriarch as “Jacob” and “Israel”?  We came up with three choices:

  1. Deeply theological and spiritual reasons
  2. Editorial changes over the time the book was compiled
  3. Random (nominated by Mister T)

And the more we read, the more we leaned toward 3.

We also collectively pondered this strange passage:

So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

What in the world had Joseph said and done to his brothers that convinced his father that he was alive?  Repeatedly messed with their heads?  Stuck stuff in their bags so that they’d be accused of stealing?  Threatened to imprison them all and kill the most-favored Benjamin?

And our biggest quandary: Why don’t we get to see the scene when the brothers say to Jacob/Israel, “Um, yeah, remember all those years ago when we brought you Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and told you that he was dead?  Well, in fact, we sort of, um, sold him…into slavery…to the Egyptians…and, kind of, lied to you.  But hey, he’s alive and really powerful, so let’s get packing!”

And that’s a good summary of Genesis, in a nutshell: Some great stories that tell us a lot about the origins of our faith, and a bunch of places where we sure wish we had more details.