"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Thursday, July 15, 2010

(wrote this?)

Many months ago someone in our small group asked about preparing our kids to take communion and how to do that. To set the stage a bit-maybe half or more of our group were raised in a denomination where you had some type of confirmation class that helped you learn what your church believed and where they stood on things and who and how to take communion. Most of us now attend a church where that doesn’t happen, but is along the line of “if you have confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are welcome to partake; and parents, this is for you to discuss with your children.”
The verses/point about the offended brothers was brought up. (If your brother has anything against you, leave your sacrifice at the altar and go and make amends) I thought of this more considering the post we wrote months ago about apologies. Each believer is to take this seriously.
Are we ever “perfect” enough to take communion though? We (should) confess our sins before partaking. Is that enough to make us clean? What if we have offended someone but didn’t know it and took communion? We don’t want to be banging ourselves on the head about this either, nit-picking every little thing. Is what is going on between you and God more the issue? It’s personal; you know if you are offended by someone, and often if you have offended them. What is your responsibility when the other party doesn’t care? They have offended you, or you may even be the one who offended them, but they don’t want to make amends. Do you not take communion?
What is the church’s role in the preparation for communion? Many would say it is to help them prepare for the time of remembrance and taking the cup and bread. What though, does that mean? Setting an “atmosphere”? Leading/giving the actual elements? Teaching the meaning, the significance of the act? All parts probably. But there is still a strong level of PERSONAL responsibility that must be there. Is the church responsible if we take communion knowing that we (personally) know of an offense either way? I guess I think they should step in and at least say something to the parties if they know about it. Most of our churches are so large that leadership doesn’t know of the offense, or due to their size they don’t think it is a big enough offense to deal with. Not saying that is right, it just happens. Is the church ultimately responsible for each of us personally anyway, or are we responsible for ourselves (suppose that depends on your denominations/beliefs, huh?)?


Anonymous said...

So many of these questions' answers depend on prior denominational and theological commitments. Some thoughts:

First of all, a person should be baptized before he ever takes communion. Historically, baptism is the sacrament of entry into Christian faith, while communion is the regular, ongoing, weekly or daily sacrament. I find at Wheaton, however, that some students have never been baptised, which is probably the fruit of anti-sacramentalism present in much of evangelicalism. So you get statements like the one you gave above:

"Most of us now attend a church where that doesn’t happen, but is along the line of 'if you have confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are welcome to partake; and parents, this is for you to discuss with your children.'”

This "Lord and Savior" business has replaced baptism. It's like we've paid some attention to Romans 10 ("If you believe in your heart and confess with your lips...") and forgotten Romans 6 ("...all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.")

Second, communion is never merely personal. Read 1 Corinthians 6 and 10 and 11 very closely. I think it's meant to not only reflect but also produce the unity of the Church when we partake of the bread and wine, the body and blood.

Third, churches do need to teach and to exercise discipline regarding the sacraments, but many do a poor, poor job. One reason for that is that contemporary Christianity is much less about teaching and much more about feelings. Another reason is that evangelical churches don't take sacraments very seriously.

Just some thoughts.

-- Leroy

Brian and Kelly Jo Kallevig said...

So, some questions, just to have questions! :)

You say historically they should be baptized. Is there biblical basis? Or is this church history? We could say the disciples weren’t baptized first…or is it assumed they were because people in those days were baptized into whatever teaching they were following (i.e. the baptism of John).
Perhaps we have pushed the baptism is a public statement of your faith, so those who give a public testimony figure they have done that-it’s the same type of thing (not going into the whole the Bible commands it side…).
True, many, many do not take the sacraments seriously enough, at times I know I haven’t/don’t.