the weblog of Alan Knox

What did I learn in church about the Lord’s Supper?

Posted by on Oct 11, 2008 in ordinances/sacraments | 6 comments

For the next few days, my son and I will be hiking and camping part of the Appalachian trail in Pennsylvania. While I’m away, I’m going to re-publish some of my older posts – posts that many of you have not read. As you can tell, I wrote some of these during my earliest examinations of the church in Scripture. Feel free to comment or discuss the posts among yourselves. I’ll try to reply to your comments when I return.

——————————————————–

What did I learn in church about the Lord’s Supper?

After writing my previous post, I began to think about what I learned about the church as I was growing up “in” church. I thought this would make an interesting series. I don’t know how may posts there will be, or how often they will come along. Perhaps other people will offer topic suggestions in the comments.

So, what did I learn in church about the Lord’s Supper? I remember being a young boy and watching the Lord’s Supper with awe and wonder. I learned quite a bit about it actually. First, I learned that there are seven required elements for the Lord’s Supper.

Element #1: Welch’s Grape Juice. Every Lord’s Supper must include Welch’s Grape Juice. There is something special about this juice, apparently. I think Mr. Welch must have been at the Last Supper…

Element #2: Chicklet-Sized Pieces of Styrofoam (I mean, bread). Those little things are remarkable! I’ve always wanted to see what I could do with one of those pieces of bread and a slingshot…

Element #3: Thimble-Sized Plastic Cups. It never occurred to me to ask where Jesus got the little cups for the Last Supper. Perhaps one of the Mary’s brought them…

Element #4: That Amazing Shiny Tray with Holes for the Thimble-Sized Plastic Cups. Wow! Have you ever seen anything so beautiful! It’s like a flattened soldier’s helmet that has been riddled by a machine gun…

Element #5: A Shiny Frisbee to Hold the Chicklet-Sized Pieces of Styrofoam. Again, I always wondered if I could throw it all the way up into the choir loft.

Element #6: A Table with the Words “Do This in Remembrance of Me.” This table always sits up front, just under the pulpit. I was never sure which was holier. I think maybe the table, because we only used it once every three months…. except to hold a pot of flowers given in memory of …

Element #7: A White Table Cloth to Cover Everything. I wondered how long the junior deacons had to practice folding that table cloth just right. I mean, most of them usually sat on the first row and watched the two deacons who were the best folders do their thing.

Okay, so perhaps some of these observations were skewed based of the fact that I was a young boy and thinking about things that young boys think about… like soldiers… and frisbees… and sling shots. But, besides learning about the elements, I also learned a few rules about the Lord’s Supper.

Rule #1: Don’t Spill the Grape Juice! And I mean it!

Rule #2: The Lord Supper should be performed once every three months. I’ve mentioned this already in reference to the holy table. I think there was something extra special about months with 5 Sundays, because on that fifth Sunday we not only had the Lord’s Supper, we also got a break from listening to the preacher at night: that’s when we had the “hymn sing”.

Rule #3: Don’t Talk! shhhhhh… Don’t make me take you out of here.

Rule #4: Don’t move your hand toward either of the shiny plates unless you had been baptized. Seriously, that made me want to get baptized. I mean, how am I going to try out my sling shot if I can never get my hands on one of those little pieces of styrofoam?

Rule #5: Don’t Spill the Grape Juice! And I mean it!

Rule #6: Only take one piece of styrofoam and one cup of Welch’s Grape juice. It doesn’t matter how hungry you are…

Rule #7: Wait until the preacher stops talking before you eat or drink. Again, it doesn’t matter how hungry you are…

Rule #8: Don’t Spill the Grape Juice! And I mean it!

Rule #9: Don’t swish the Grape Juice in your mouth, or gag on the piece of styrofoam. Yeah, I was right… it is styrofoam.

Rule #10: When you are finished with the little plastic cup, put it in the little plastic cup holder. Oooohhhh… so that’s what those little holes in the back of the pew are for.
So, as you can see, I learned much about the Lord’s Supper while I was growing up. In fact, when I started reading the Bible for myself… hey!… that stuff’s not in there…

I hope you realize that this is all “tongue-in-cheek”. I am not trying to make fun of the way people practice the Lord’s Supper. I am hoping that you are asking the following questions: 1) What do I think about the Lord’s Supper? and 2) What am I teaching others about the Lord’s Supper?


6 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-11-2008

    I grew up in the United Methodist tradition and we did the whole white table cloth and grape juice thing. Here are some of my lessons.

    When I was 13, we were about to take communion and our youth pastor read the passage about not partaking in an unworthy manner. I immediately realized that I had just has a fight with one of my best friends and should make thing right. I asked my friend into the next room and I apolgized for what I had done wrong. We forgave one another and went and tool the juice and cracker. It was one of the most spiritual moments in my life when I realized forgiveness is what communion was all about.

    The other greatest lesson came when I was 21 and traveling in the Ukraine when it was still a part of the old Soviet Union I was in a small converted house for an unofficial worship service. I did not speak the language, but the Orthodox priest brought around the communion cup with wine. Each person drank from the same cup and then ate a wafer. This was another amazing spiritual moment in my life when I realized my connection to people was Christ’s shed blood.

    I know you are a fan of the common meal as “communion” However, I note that in Corinth the common meal became an opportunity for the Flesh and pride and greed.

    My conclusion is that when you operate in the Flesh, every tradition becomes lifeless ritual, but when we live by the Spirit, we can experience the beauty of God in a variety of communion traditions.

  2. 10-11-2008

    PS
    For those who do not know, when I mention above that the “unofficial” service in the Ukraine, I meant that it was not a state approved church gathering.

  3. 10-12-2008

    Great post from the past, Alan. Our little body of believers is a bit unconventional in the age of “mega”–elder-led, rural, rented building, no “programs”…
    Next week we are planning the Lord’s Breakfast (including the Welch’s and matzoth) in place of our usual “worship service.” Tableclothes will be plastic.
    But we’ll still remind the kids not to spill the grape juice, and young and old are encouraged to come with something to share–Scripture, song, encouragement, prayer requests, praises.

    BTW, I hope you and your son enjoyed the hike. God’s been painting eastern Wisconsin with a full palette of color this fall.

    j.r.-“when you operate in the Flesh, every tradition becomes lifeless ritual, but when we live by the Spirit, we can experience the beauty of God in a variety of communion traditions.” That is so true. The heart is the seat of real communion…not the Welch’s and Chiclets.

  4. 10-12-2008

    Joe (JR),

    Thanks for sharing your own recollections of the Lord’s Supper growing up!

    You said, “My conclusion is that when you operate in the Flesh, every tradition becomes lifeless ritual, but when we live by the Spirit, we can experience the beauty of God in a variety of communion traditions.” I agree!

    Kat,

    I hope you and the church have a great time sharing the Lord’s Table over breakfast!

    -Alan

  5. 10-13-2008

    I just found your blog and it is great. As I’m reading this one, it really made me, now in my 50’s look back at that time. I too thought the bread was styrofoam! And the grape juice 1)stains REALLY bad and 2)if you don’t drink it just right, it some how goes down the wrong way and it makes you cough, A LOT and VERY LOUD!
    But seriously, I didnt like the days of the communion/the Lords supper when I was a child. It was confusing. But now I look so forward to it as the day that I can re-dedicate my life to my Lord. It keeps me in check and therefore is so very necessary. Thanks for the trip back in time as well as making us examine ourselves a bit. Great blog! Keep speaking truth. God Bless!

  6. 10-21-2008

    Alan, we must have been brought up in the same church! I remember well all these admonitions and practices from my own childhood. :)