Did I Sell Out?

Sunday morning I was privileged to lead communion thoughts at the Lord’s table. I was asked to read I John 3:16-20:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Then I retold a brief story:

Years ago, I heard missionary Juan Monroy tell of working in a South American country where a very rigid caste system was in place; where a new young convert, who was a laborer, did not feel it permissible to look directly into the face of someone of a higher caste, such as a preacher – or to call him by his first name; only as “Senor” or “Mr.”. After Juan preached what must have been a powerful sermon on how Jesus’ sacrifice makes us all equal – just fellow-sinners saved by His grace – he positioned himself next to this new convert. It was the custom in this church, you see, for one person to pass the emblems of the Lord’s Supper to the next person by addressing them by their first name and saying something to the effect of “This is the body of Christ, which was broken for you” or “This is Jesus’ blood, which was shed for you.” When the plate came to him, the young man looked right into Juan’s eyes, a great smile across his face, and said, “Juan, this is Jesus’ body. He did this for you.”

Then I hedged. I said,

That’s not our custom in this church, and some of us would doubtless be uncomfortable saying such a thing to another. But I wonder if, as we pass these emblems to each other this morning, we could do so looking right into each others’ eyes with a look of love, a look that says “This is His body. This is His blood. He did this for us.”

And I led the blessings for the bread and the cup.

I would have liked to have asked, just for one Sunday, to adopt this custom which speaks so richly to the vertical AND horizontal relationship we have as God’s children and Christ’s siblings at the Table. I think to do so might have been more distracting than fruitful. I felt like I at least introduced the possibility of more interaction during our time at the Table together.

What do you think?

Did I sell out?

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11 thoughts on “Did I Sell Out?

  1. I went to a church recently where they did something similar to this–and I did love it.Some churches are *ready* for this–others might not be–I would trust God for the discernment to know if your congregation would be blessed or upset.

  2. Maybe you did it right by getting them ready for the concept and then next time….because you know people have to be PUSHED out of their comfort zones.

  3. It says a lot about you that you were afriad to do this even though you wanted to, but it says even more about the rigid church you go to. People all over the USA say those very words Sunday after Sunday. Those words are commonly said. Too bad for your church.

  4. Keith, I think you did well. Keep introducing it, and it will happen. I have been at services where this was done, and it is a good thing. People get used to it really quickly.Anonymous, I wouldn’t be too quick to label a church as “rigid” just because of this. Every group of believers will have something that they are simply not used to doing, and therefore is a little outside their comfort zone,(sometimes simply out of a desire to be reverent through it all). I’ll bet yours does, too, (like signing your name on a blog entry) and I think that’s natural. None of us has it all together. Keep on, Keith. Like you asked in your worship meeting blog, “will it make God happy?” I think this will.

  5. I don’t think you sold out at all. The non-verbal eye contact may be more important than the verbal words. remember at Simon’s house when Jesus talked to Simon about the woman. But the text says he was looking at her. He saw her. Saw her as a real, important, legitimate person. Eye contact is under rated. but I have tried to get people to say those ancient words too.

  6. In my work in Honduras many of the churches practiced the Communion meal differently than we do. They had something similar to what you mentioned that your church did. They called it “la mirada de fe” (the faithful look) In one church that I have worked at in the US we had a custom of having everyone hold the bread till it was all passed and then we all ate it at the same time. I sometimes feel like I hold back a little more than I should in my attempts to push people out of their comfort zones. Then there are other times that I wonder if I have gone too far to quickly. But God seems to always make it work on His timing. Let the spirit lead.

  7. Every time I seit next to a certain couple during our Sunday a.m. worship assembly the wife will say something like “The peace of Christ” as she passes the bread to me. It used to be distracting. Now I kind of look forward to those times not so much because of the words spoken but the expression on her face as she speaks those words.

  8. Hey Keith, it’s been awhile, I know. When are you going to link my last name to my blog? Japan is pretty cool and all that jazz.

  9. You were not ‘selling out’, just simply introducing your congregants to a new concept and practice of Eucharist. You are further ahead of them in you journey,that’s all. So just get on with it, but softly, softly. 🙂Because of everyone has a different faith experience, individual approach to Eucharist will be personal — Jesus extends his love and acceptance within each person’s comfort zone on their own level, rather than based on presupposed issues you or I might hold for them. He further blesses and enriches their experience outwardly with leaders like yourself to lead them on to the next level of their journey.Softly, softly…

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