Saturday, April 05, 2008

Why we have Eucharist on Sundays

I enjoyed today's sermon, but it did lead me into a disputed issue, and that is part of the reason for this blog. Those persons who are offended by controversial questions should not read any further on this blog.

Today's sermon started with the subject of communion, sharing meals and having fun together. Charlie described a few of his experiences with meals, mostly those that were fun. Thankfully, he threw in the story of one which he is still uneasy about. Some people might have been uneasy about being invited to a Seder meal (you should be circumcised), but he was more concerned about the time he ignored the stranger who might have interrupted his picnic at Golden Gate Park. I hardly blame him since there are a lot of strange people in San Francisco. The unease was only briefly mentioned as it seemed the theme of the sermon was that we are supposed to come together, share a meal, laugh, have fun. I got the impression that in so doing we are living the religious life, even if we hear no mention of "Religion." (From henceforth, to be referred to as the "R" word.) Oh and let's not use the "T" word (theology) and especially not the "S" word (Sin).
Charlie recalled the parish Harvest Days shared meal as a positive experience. I will add that there was a lakeside service with a baptism ("R") and a blessing ("R") before the meal.
What I am trying to get at is are we content with Christianity as just the Happy Meal? Don't you have to acknowledge the sacrifice and the sin parts? I am fascinated by attempts to remove the confession of sin from the service. So old fashioned all that "S" business. Is Charlie right, and we don't want to hear about it? Or maybe he was trying to say we don't need it (the "S" word) beat into us, instead we should just have fun together?
And what about today's readings? Acts 2:14a, 36-41. Peter saying "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Christ Jesus so that your sins ("S") may be forgiven..." He was able to baptise 3,000 that day after the people heard about sin and redemption. And what about the second reading 1Peter 1:17-23? "Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth ("R"?)..." Tough, tough, is this being born anew stuff. Let's see if I get this right. First you hear the Word, you need forgiveness of your "S," then purify yourself by obeying the truth ("R") and be baptised ("R"). Then in the third reading we hear of the two disciples walking with Jesus, getting the scriptures explained ("R"+"T"), eating with him (after the bread was blessed ("R")), then poof Jesus disappears! What is going on here? After reading the lessons I have to conclude that if you meet Jesus, don't eat with Him unless you want Him to disappear.
The question I am getting to is this, are we in the Episcopal Church downplaying the "S" the "R" and the "T" that go along with Holy Communion? I am worried that our National Church seems to be going down this path. Click on the link in the title bar and you will see our National Church leadership has a person in charge of Liturgy with an unusual take on the Eucharist. Does anyone else see a problem with his answer to the question of why do we have Eucharist on Sundays?

I had to look up Clayton Morris to see how he qualified for this position. His application for the North American Academy of Liturgy was interesting.
From the web read here

In his own words:

As Delegate for Membership, I would bring to the table my experience of significant conversation in my professional life over the past decade or so about emerging trends in the worship life of the church. We live in a time in which standards are being challenged on every front. For an organization like the NAAL, it is important to keep traditions and new possibilities in mind consistently.


The following was a nice ditty left on the Stand Firm web site by "masternav" (comment #60)

"Hmmm the new Episcopal You-charist: The Lord’s Brunch
This is my croissant given to you
This is my fine Merlot given for you
Take this finely aged Stilton given for you in remembrance of fine cheesiness past, and feed on it in your hunger with thanksgiving, remembering those who thirst and hunger for righteous repast."

Oh, and what was that unease Charlie mentioned earlier? I have that same unease when I fail to do the Lord's bidding. I call that "S". I am guilty of this all the time, especially when blogging, and I have to time after time repent and beg forgiveness before I come to the Lord's table.

This posting is running too long, and it is getting late, please forgive me if you are confused by any of this, maybe it was something we ate.


  1. Across the board in mainstream protestant denominations, there seems to be a desire to eliminate those doctrines which make us uncomfortable: sin, judgment, blood atonement, etc. Of course, if one removes those from the equation, the question becomes, "What are we?" Why are we worshiping at all on Sundays as opposed to playing golf?


  2. It makes me think, how do we present those doctrines in a positive way? Can we make people feel good about being forgiven sinners? Of course we can, isn't that what the Good News is all about?

  3. Can we make people feel good about being forgiven sinners? Of course we can, isn't that what the Good News is all about?

    True, indeed. Yet in order to appreciate the Good News, does one need to hear and acknowledge the truth of the bad news first? Stated differently, mercy without justice/judgment means nothing.


  4. I did need to edit a couple of lines. I was tired.