Sunday, March 11, 2007


Why thimbles and yucky wafers?
Answer: That’s the way Jesus did it.

I am currently exploring the significance and practice of the Lord's Supper. My understanding is that bread and wine were simply the most common elements at the meal and that referring to them referred to the entire meal filled with joyful banter, personal reflection, and a glorious mish mash of whatever friends (who are in love with Jesus) do when they thoroughly enjoy each other's company.

I have this assumption that religion tends to take the best of ideas and somehow makes them into something akin to a dead man's tomb. Jesus did warn us of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. I'm exploring this distinct possibility when it comes to the Lord's Supper.
When I first began exploring the meal idea of the Lord's Supper, I was even wondering when it would be best served? Could the word "supper" be a clue? A post resurrection breakfast at the lake might be healthy from time time, just so we don't get legalistic about the timing of the "supper". I even wondered, if it's a meal, when do you do the ceremony part? Could it be the meal itself?

Did Jesus and then Paul re-enforce the idea that we are to have a thimble and wafer service once a month to remember him? Or is it possible that the early, unsophisticated church think that every time they got together in their homes that they were to remember the Lord's life and death until He returns?

Is it possible that we have taken the phrase "as oft as you do this" to mean whenever you have a special thimble ceremony which is scheduled by a holy man, in a holy place, at a holy time, that we are to remember the Lord's death and return. Or could it mean that anytime (often) you get together (ekklesia) that you can enjoy remembering His life, death, resurrection and return.

I am intrigued about why a 12 week study about God, called Alpha, is so successful. Is it only because of Nicky Gumbel's teaching? The innovative approach in Alpha is that it includes a meal with a sermon and people actually got a chance to talk with each other about it. This "revolutionary" idea is kind of in the category of Quiznos' genius idea of toasting submarine sandwiches?
The most frequently asked question that I usually got from people who did Alpha was "what's next?" To this I could only put my head down and mumble, "Not what you just experienced." I didn't have the heart to say thimbles and wafers, 10% admittance fees, no more sleeping in on Sundays, yadayadayada...

I say this in the context of the early church exuberantly meeting daily for the "breaking of bread" ceremony. This obviously was all about thimbles and wafers, holy men and a holy place.
Jesus' disciples must have thoroughly enjoyed the 3-4 years of thimble/wafer services, especially the last one.

If the Lord's Supper, really is a supper, and the bread and wine are really the basic elements of the meal, why have we taken this and obliterated it from anything that even remotely looks human? It seems to me that the thimbles (cup) and wafers cause us to focus on our individuality within a corporate setting. Considering others, if done at all, is only done in a very limited and restrictive way. Partaking “unworthily” is sometimes interpreted to mean, “have I confessed all my sins from the past week?” Is it possible that Jesus wants us to interact with each other in such a way that we actually know and yet still love each other?

I was intrigued by a church I recently heard of that is trying to make communion somewhat more human by having people break up in groups of 3 or 4 to partake together. One comment was, “we don’t know what to do in the group.” We have literally been trained not to interact in this context.
It's difficult to make any kind of change from tradition. For some it may feel like they are betraying the past and for others, communion has always been a very special spiritual time. I am not trying to invalidate past experiences, I'm just wondering if we have potentially limited a wonderful practice.

Jesus gave us an extraordinary command,
John 13:34 (NKJV) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Would it be wrong for ordinary people, to meet in ordinary homes, to have an ordinary meal with ordinary bread and ordinary wine, to celebrate the Lord's life and death until He returns? And perhaps, just perhaps we may learn to love one another in such a way that people who do not know God, will glorify God.

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened." Winston Churchill

"The Institutional church has killed only two kinds of people: Those who do not believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ and those who do." Will Durant

"If you speak the truth when everyone else believes and is practicing the opposite, make sure you are sitting on a very swift horse." Turkish proverb

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