Sunday, March 1, 2009

The joyful feast

Today in church we had a minor mishap, of the sort that shouldn’t really trip me up – the pastor missed a hymn that was in the bulletin, and by the time the mistake was caught it was too late to go back and sing it (we were running quite behind-schedule, and it wouldn’t have made sense to sing a “gathering” song as the last element of worship).
Minor mishap. Sad, but not too much can be done – (in another person’s world). But I don’t live in that reasonable world, and missing the song TOTALLY bent me out of shape. I grieved for it like a child.
So here I am now, two hours later still hung up about it, and I want to make this point for myself and for you: The Lord’s Supper is central.
And I can’t force a congregation to see it like I do, but if I keep making this point in a strong, joyous, non-anxious manner in Bible Studies, my congregation may come to understand it, and might even care about it, and might start focusing so heavily on the LS that such mistakes won’t happen.

Some congregations celebrate the Lord’s Supper weekly. Some denominations are wont to do it daily when they can. I’ve occasionally triple-dipped when I could go to the Episcopalian evening liturgy on Thursday nights, Presbyterian chapel Friday morning, and any old church on the first Sunday of a month. In Uganda I used to kneel in the early mornings with scads of small children in a Catholic mass of which I understood snippets, simple bits of the foreign language and a few particularly holy words they’d borrowed straight from the (pre-Vatican II) Latin Mass. Obviously I wasn’t getting much of the comprehensible worship experience. But I was being fed, and it sustained me well.

Jesus broke bread and said – whenever you “do this” remember me, and it’s too bad we invented sliced bread because breaking a bread loaf apart is no longer part of the daily experience. But even before this innovation, we had separated it, so that “doing this” was the churchstuff, with token small bits of bread and wine (because feeding everyone would be so expensive and complicated!!!) and “eating” was private life.

* it’s fully grace. We don’t deserve it, we get it anyway. You can never say that enough.
* we are incomplete, hungering, hungry people and God has something that could fill us if we’d stop talking long enough to open our mouths and accept it. We could be nourished, and strong, and formed into the likeness of Christ.
* we are re-member-ing the body – re-constituting the Body of Christ as we are members of it, and we must act like a living, breathing, eating body to do so.

So this whole fit of passion about the LS I’m having now is more than convenient – seeing as on Wednesday I begin a series of Bible Studies on precisely that, which will last until the crowning event of Maundy Thursday, and which will include soup dinners. We will eat, and talk about eating, and remember Jesus ONCE A WEEK for 40 days. I’m pleased as punch about this arrangement, and suddenly a little intimidated by the enormity of my task.

by marty haugen, STF 2236

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