I try to keep my expectations low when courtesy requires going to a modern church. (Minimum standard for attendance: the church must publicly display at least one crucifix of any size.) Even so, I rarely escape without a new horror story. New for Turkey Sunday 2019: do-it-yourself Communion!
The pastor of a small, Baptist-esque church set out wine and bread for Communion but instead of taking it corporately, as has been done in every church I’ve been at in a world-weary life, the pastor said we could help ourselves while the band played songs and added that he encouraged us to do it by family.
Absolute zero ritual. No “take this bread in remembrance of Me” or “this wine is His blood, shed for us”, nope, just come on up and chew your groove and back to the pew. Not even attendants at the ‘table’.
That’s not laziness. Lazy is the pastor telling a deacon to lead Communion so he can check his Twitter feed. DIY Communion is open disrespect for both God and one of the very few mandatory rituals that Our Savior left us to follow.
I did the ritual for myself by memory and regret taking part at all, but as rarely as I go to Church it had been the first opportunity this year to practice Communion. The entire reason I don’t go to church just for Communion is because it’s supposed to be a corporate experience. Attending a church once a month to gobble the bread & wine then sneak out the side door just ain’t right with what Communion is about: remembering as a Church, not as isolated individuals, Christ’s sacrifice and promise of rescue. I can’t square that with nobody knowing my name while I “do it with them”. To preserve the intent of Communion, therefore, I only do it when I go to church with family or friends.
Evil, treacherous, quisling pastors! I could do Communion for myself with my breakfast Cheerios if the point was just a quick snack. Bitter and cynical as I am, I’m not hard to please. A basic Communion service, give thanks for whatever because Turkey Weekend, tell a joke about a football game then sing a couple songs that double as advertisements for the upcoming children’s Christmas play. How can a clergyman possibly screw that up?
By displaying open contempt for Christ’s blood and body, broken for us.