Monday, September 19, 2011

For the Love of All That is Holy Communion Part 2

I think I'd like to revisit this topic  - and not just because I still can't get over Communion.  In retrospect, I feel the first installment was too heavy on the soul-wearying time communion used to be instead of the soul-feeding time Communion is now.   And if I hope to help woo Christian Fundamentalists away from worshipping their man-centered religion to worship the one true God instead, then they need to see the God they're missing out on.

To recap:

In Fundamentalism, communion was occasional and terrifying.  It primarily focused on me, my sin, and God's judgment, not Christ and His atonement.

By contrast, here are the excerpts from Communion that happens every Sunday at the church we're settling into:

The Great Thanksgiving

Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Celebrant: It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

(sung) Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, 
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna in the highest.

Then the Celebrant continues:
Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.  He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.  On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you.  Do this for the remembrance of me."

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, "Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.  Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in Him.  Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.  All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ.  By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever.  Amen

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to sing...

(sung)Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day
our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power, and the glory
are yours, both now and forever.
From now until the end of time.

Congregation: We who are many are one body, because we all share one bread, one cup.

Post Communion Prayer

Celebrant and People:
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.  Send us now into the world in peace, and grand us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Celebrant: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.  Alleluia, Alleluia.
People: Thanks be to God.  Alleluia, Alleluia

Can you believe that?   Can you believe that not only is Communion considered "the great thanksgiving", but... a celebration? I nearly couldn't when I first heard that manifestation of the Gospel. Communion celebrates assurance of pardon, not self-doubt.  It celebrates redemption, not condemnation.  It celebrates the acceptance we have in Christ, not the separation we have without Him.  And most of all, it celebrates Christ, not me.

Thanks be to God!  Alleluia!  ALLELUIA!

1 comment:

  1. A couple of years ago, a pastor at my church handed me a book about spiritual disciplines. She pointed out that along with other things people tend to use in their pursuit of God (like reading the Bible, fasting, etc.), celebration is also listed as a discipline. And it wasn't described so much like an "okay we gotta praise God now" celebration, but more like a party. An enjoyment of whatever one finds to do that is fun, without trying to over-spiritualize it. Needless to say, hearing that was incredibly freeing.