Thursday, March 24, 2005

Maundy Thursday Evening Service

Where did I read that equity is assumed by those who take the sacrament of the Lord's Supper?

I can't find it in the B of O or Book of Common Worship. Drives me nuts when I cannot find what I've read. I'll bet this bothers you, too.

I'm thinking about the practice in churches of serving the Lord's Supper to the congregation then asking the congregation to hold the elements (bread and cup) until everyone is served before eating and drinking.

We did this tonight at the LH's church. I began to think about this practice which is not in the Book of Order/Directory of Worship nor is it in the Book of Common Worship. I suppose it started so that in a large congregation when serving the sacrament takes several minutes the people can wait, then take it simultaneously to feel close with one another. Nothing wrong with that. Rather Southern when you think about it, because you are 'sposed to wait until everyone has been served to begin eating (especially you wait for the Mama to raise her fork before you "dig in.")

However, if equity before God at God's Table is assumed, then waiting until all are served makes no particular sense. We ARE God's people and we are TOGETHER in worship taking the sacrament. The Lord's Supper isn't just a personal moment, it's a corporate Body of Christ moment. The holding the sacrament until all are served then seems awkward and fussy.

By the way, sitting in a lavish sanctuary with a trained choir, wonderful pipe organ, great organist and a woodwind ensemble and a gorgeous Communion set gave me a glimpse into how some "country" churches get in a snit about city churches being too fancy. My congregation worships in a very plain Calvinist sanctuary. We have little or no adornment. Adding candlesticks to the worship space was considered a tad too "high church" when I suggested it but I think we are all at peace with candlesticks now. I'm giggling because I must have some bloggy readers who are hooting at the goofiness of church folk. Ok. Ok. We have the little battles with one another over mostly nothing because we all seem to think we are doing church the right way.

Tonight I looked around me and felt a shiver of "whoa! this is so visually stimulating that I am being distracted." And I grew up in a downtown East Coast sanctuary with a killer pipe organ, paid choir members, carvings, Louis C. Tiffany windows, and beautiful plaques and accroutements. Now I serve in country plain and see the simple beauty of this. Both types of spaces honor God.

I loved the hymns, readings and prayers tonight. I loved sitting between my LD and LH and being able to reach out to hold their hands during worship. What a treat to sit in a pew!

1 comment:

~m2~ said...

you know i am coming from a Catholic perspective, so if you don't mind my thoughts on communion? i also grew up Methodist and was Episcopalian for a time, so i have some Protestant background.

Communion is consumed once received because it is sacred and considered to be the body, blood, soul & divinity of Jesus Christ. many times there have been attempts to desecrate the Eucharist so we are taught (when we become Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist - you wanna talk *high church* let's add *high titles*) that we must make sure the Host is consumed immediately so nothing *bad* can happen. that's the short story.

also about candles? when the candles are lit at the altar, it is because that is where the Supper of the Lord is taking place; we would set out the candles when company comes for dinner, no? (that and the only way they'd be able to see back in the Early Church was by candlelight.)

i love the candles, it lends to the atomosphere of being a really special time. however, as much as i love gothic architecture and high church, i also love simplicity...