Friday, June 06, 2008

Have we crossed the line?

Nowhere perhaps, is the idolatrous encroachment of consumer culture in the North American church more stark, or disturbing than in the Lord's Supper. Modernist, consumerist encroachment on the Supper has been going on longer than anyone now alive, but as Skye Jethani notes, it's now rising to new levels:
For example, I’ve heard that some in the congregation have requested the use of sugar-free juice during communion. Apparently the thimble cup of grape juice contains enough fructose to agitate their insulin levels, or disrupt their strict adherence to Dr. Atkins’ low-carb lifestyle. I know another church where people have insisted that only whole-grain bread be used for communion. Heaven forbid constipation-inducing white bread be used.

The issue is not the presence of those with legitimate dietary restrictions at Christ’s table, but rather the growing expectation that the church must accommodate every personal need or preference. When the church is expected to supply not only a variety of programs, service times, worship styles, but now even communion bread and cup options—can we finally acknowledge that we have crossed the line into absurdity? Have we elevated personal preference so far above corporate unity that we have little imaginative framework for even understanding the corporate intent of the Lord’s Table?

I wonder if our first step down this slippery slope was the move away from a communal chalice to those ubiquitous communion cups—those hygienic disposable vessels that fit comfortably between thumb and forefinger but seem designed to never relinquish the final drop of Christ’s blood. The stylish (and hygienic) fluted cups reinforce the cultural assumption that communion is really about “me” and not “us.” Once communion ceases to be communal, the door is opened for personal preferences to be expressed, accommodated, and even demanded.
To answer Mr. Jethani's question about the communal chalice, I think the answer is definitely yes. Kyrie eleison.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

we are moving farther and farther away from relationship. sitting down toghether and eating together, or doing almost anything together.

Jesus and his disciples were use to eating together and sharing. they talked, ate, shared, laughed, cried, lived toghether.

in our culture we do the best we can to be self reliant and do not really want to spend time with others or to share or need one another. the real meaning of relationship and relating is lost.

people do not want to take time and energy out of THEIR life to make room for others.

we ALL are guilty of this.

i really do not know what people expect to happen when relationship and community does not really exist in our lives and then expect all to fall into line on one event in a church gathering.

there is something to be said about nitpicking about the nitpickers.

i do not think that the bread and wine and the manner of dealing it out is really the issue here.

i think that sin is the issue and how much it has always been a part of our lives. and how much we see it in others and not ourselves.

3:52 PM, June 07, 2008  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Yes, sin is ultimately the trouble and we are all guilty. At the same time, our society's persistent individualism and culture of self-fulfillment make this kind of sin easier. Thanks, Nancy, for your thoughtful comments and for being such a faithful reader of TS. Peace.

12:31 PM, June 09, 2008  

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