Monday, April 14, 2014

Preparing for Thursday

On Thursday of this week we'll gather at Crossroads to share the Lord's Supper.  Thursday is "the night in which he [Jesus] was betrayed."  We call it Maundy* Thursday but this day goes by many other names. It's the night when we remember, in words and actions, what Jesus did on that night before he was arrested.

Several of our young people have been learning about the Lord's Supper in recent weeks, and, for some, Thursday will be the first time they will receive the bread and the wine (or juice -- we give an option at our church).  There is no rule about when children may begin partaking of the "elements" of communion, the bread and wine.  That's a decision we leave to parents.  I emailed the parents about details today (Monday).

This gift of God, given through Jesus, known as communion or "the Lord's Supper" or "eucharist" etc. is not something that can be completely explained on this earth.  There are so many understandings of it.  Go to the links found at "Lord's Supper (disambiguation)" on Wikipedia for a sample.

Christian believers do agree, however, that "it is reenacted in accordance with Jesus' instruction at the Last Supper, as recorded in several books of the New Testament, that his followers do in remembrance of him as when he gave his disciples bread, saying, 'This is my body,' and gave them wine saying, 'This is my blood.'"  We will certainly do that on Thursday!

As I write today I'm considering and praying about some of the specifics of how the Lord may be leading us to share communion and the Word of God on this particular Maundy Thursday.

We are going through a series of messages on the Ten Commandments (counting backwards from ten) and we have a decision to make about whether to address the remaining commandment(s) on Thursday or on Easter Sunday or both.  Right now I'm inclined to focus on different aspects of these commandments on each day: the prohibition of having other gods or worshiping "images" (a.k.a. idols) on Thursday and the celebration of having a God who saves us on Sunday.

I'm drawn the issue of "not having other gods" in connection with communion because believers in Jesus are often attached to a particular way of sharing communion.  We have learned that at Crossroads because a few months ago we heard that some people (I have no idea how many) had a desire to share communion in one way.  That "way" is as follows:
  • Everyone who wants communion comes to the front and receives the bread and wine from a communion server.  To do this everyone stands in line. At some churches there is a place provided for people to kneel while they receive, eat, drink and pray.  At other churches (such as at Crossroads) the people eat and drink as they get to the front (while standing in line).
We have experimented with a variety of other ways of sharing communion, for example:
  • The bread and wine are handed down the aisles and each person takes their share (a piece of bread and a little cup of wine/juice) and hold the bread and wine in their hands until all can eat and drink together as the appropriate scripture is read.
  • Once or twice we put small tables around the church with bread and wine/juice on each one and had families and others share together as the scriptures were read.
  • A few times we have invited people to come individually to the altar/table to take the bread and wine on their own, communing with God one on one.
So the question is, when do "habits" become more than habits?  When do "attachments" do the ways we do things become idols, that is, when do they start to become so ingrained that switching the way the communion is done make it seem like we're not truly sharing the Lord's Supper at all?

Please pray for us as we prepare.

* More about the word "Maundy" toward the bottom of a 2012 post called "Healing Communion."

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