Monday, October 22, 2007

Another Communion Gripe

While the subject of Communion is still on my mind, here's another gripe I have......the wafer. How did our church ever come to use that very artificial, paper-like wafer for the Communion bread? I've seen Communion done at the nearby ELCA church (the Lutherans on the wrong side of the tracks, supposedly), and they use a loaf of bread, which seems more like what Jesus did at the Last Supper. Their pastor breaks off a little piece for each communicant. A lady from their congregation bakes the loaf of unleavened bread.

The confessional pastors in our synod have a fit over the mention of other denominations that use grape juice instead of wine, but these same pastors have no problem in using that very unauthentic wafer. It makes no sense to me. What if they were marooned on a deserted island and had to use coconut juice and coconut meat for the Communion elements........would it matter? The main thing is the Words the pastor speaks over the bread and wine, anyway, right? By those Words the bread and wine become the Real Presence of Christ's Body and they say. Presto.....chango.

The "Real Presence" is a bit of a stickler for me because in growing up as a Baptist, I never heard of such a thing. The bread and grape juice were symbolic of Christ's Body and Blood. The Catholics, Orthodox, and Lutherans view the bread and wine as being literally the Body and Blood of Chirst, required nourishment for a Christian. They take the words of Jesus, "This is my body.....this is my blood", literally literally. Baptists take those words symbolically literally. Both sides can be said to take those Words literally, in my view. Real theologians would not agree with me, I know. And Lutheran theologians will argue that their doctrine of the "Real Presence" differs from the literal presence of Catholic belief......but I think it is basically the same.

I try to figure out why each side holds so strongly to their beliefs on the subject. The Catholics, Orthodox, and Lutherans seem to believe that Communion gives salvatory benefits.......taking Communion keeps salvation intact or updated. That's probably why in our church there are certain people who attend church only on Communion Sunday once a month. Baptists hold no such view that Communion itself imparts salvation to the recipient.

I've read that the Orthodox view themselves as sinners who are sick and in need of "the medicine of immortality", which is Communion. Lutherans view themselves as dead in sins, so Communion imparts life, I guess. Baptists believe salvation comes by believing in Christ. Honestly, I don't know which side is more right. I didn't join the Lutheran Church because I thought they were more right------I joined simply because I was marrying one of their members. When I receive Communion now I just pray for God to use it to do whatever He wants it to do for me. Its impossible for me to know for sure what's really going on.......that's why its called a mystery! I think its a shame that there is so much arguing and disunity amongst Christian denominations over what Communion is all about. Why can't we be unified in agreeing that it is a divine mystery. Ah, humans have that overwhelming need to be right so they can revel in their rightness. God must be just shaking His head in consternation.

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