July 26, 2004

“No Thanks. We Ate Last Week.”

Category: Theology - Liturgical :: Permalink

Several times in the years I’ve been a pastor, I’ve encountered a strange and disturbing phenomenon.

Visitors arrive at the church on a Sunday when we’re having the Lord’s Supper (which so far has never been weekly in the congregations I’ve served). When someone mentions to them that we’ll be partaking of the Supper and that as Christians they’re welcome to partake with us, they decline. The reason? They had the Lord’s Supper last Sunday. And so, while the rest of the congregation eats and drinks, they sit there and wait for the Supper to be over.

It’s hard for me to express how strange I find that behaviour.

Imagine inviting someone into your house. While he’s there, you invite him to stay for lunch. “No thanks,” he says. “I’d really rather not eat with you today. I ate at your place a week ago and I don’t want to do that again for a while.”

Wouldn’t you be upset? Wouldn’t you think his response was more than bit rude? And is it any different when Christ’s guests refuse to eat at His Table because, after all, they ate there last week and would rather not do so too often?

Given that eating the bread together forms us into one body, isn’t a refusal to participate tantamount to a refusal to be one body with the congregation you’re visiting?

Given that the Lord’s Supper memorializes Christ, isn’t a refusal to eat and drink a refusal to proclaim His death? Isn’t that a sin?

Given that when we eat and drink we’re nourished by Christ’s body and blood, wouldn’t you want to partake of the Supper as often as you could? Can you ever be so full of that Supper that you don’t need it again for a while? Can you ever be so full that it would be bad for you to partake again? Can you ever be so full that it wouldn’t be rude for you to tell Christ you don’t want to eat at His Table today?

Underlying this behaviour, it seems to me, is a very strange view of the Supper. But what exactly is that view? And how should it be addressed,¬†especially when you’re dealing with visitors and not with church members who can be taught from week to week?

Posted by John Barach @ 9:25 pm | Discuss (0)

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