Assorted Comments from Facebook on Fourth Case Study
Neal: Opening Status Update via Ping.fm - 10:41pm
Need your input for a paper: How important *really* is Eucharist? Yes, most people under-emphasize it, but do ministers over-emphasize it?
Sarah Hooker at 10:43pm November 19
oooh ooh me please! i love me some eucharist
Nazir Salas at 10:45pm November 19
I like to join in such academic shenanigans. I'm in.
Andy James at 10:46pm November 19
Great question, and a good starting insight, even if it is a generality. I'd say there's a happy medium somewhere out there between the solemn and somber attention that many bring to the sacrament and the over-celebratory mood that loses a sense of prayerfulness and sacrament in the Eucharist. Getting there is a totally different story...
Adam Copeland at 10:48pm November 19
We don't over-emphasize, but we celebrate it poorly. Where's the joyful feast? Where's the "all are invited?" Where's the world-changing claims that now all must be fed b/c Christ feeds us?
Nazir Salas at 10:51pm November 19
But what about the symbolism of the Eucharist? That it is the blood and body of Christ and that we take it. Perhaps the symbolism suggest that we take the sacrifice of Christ on the the cross into ourselves and by that we are redeemed. A complicated subject, but it is perhaps the blood/body aspect that ministers overemphasize more than anything.
Neal Presa at 10:53pm November 19
Adam says it well.
Schmemann's little booklet, "For the Life of the World" offers a succinct but sharp reply to the question.
We Reformed folk have so much to learn from whence we have come...the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.
Drew Ludwig at 10:53pm November 19
I don't think this minister emphasizes it enough.
Neal Locke at 11:18pm November 19
Wow, you guys are fast. Most in my class today (students and teachers) seem to take it very seriously, which is fine. But I wonder if it's possible to make it too central -- to the point of idolatry. It seems like most Presbyterian ministers and professors I've encountered, if they err, do it on that side of things, whereas most Presbyterian congregants seem pretty apathetic to it. Where's the middle ground?
Adam Copeland at 11:21pm November 19
See appendix to Martha Moore-Keish's "Do This In Remembrance of Me" for a congregational survey on Eucharist understandings.
Nazir Salas at 11:23pm November 19
Well, considering the symbolism, for it to be taken too literally might cause some wincing except in some extremist circles, and they are probably beyond help.I suppose the middle ground is a healthy respect for the symbolism of the Eucharist. I think a understanding of the symbolism is necessary if you want to develop this sort of respect and an ... Read Moreemphasis that it is representational. Then again, I am not too familiar with Protestant doctrine, as I was raised in a non-denominational church, which primarily focused on the symbolism. But I digress...
Tyson Taylor at 11:32pm November 19
Systematc folks have been rocking Eucharist this week in class. Hunsinger has some handouts that you should try to get talking specifcaly about the ecumenical aspects of echarist practice. I have one somewhere if you want.
Neal Locke at 11:47pm November 19
@Tyson - maybe. I suspect (knowing me) that I don't really want to approach it from a systematic or traditional angle. The truth is, the more I think about this, I'm also trying to figure out just what the heck it means to me...
Neal Presa at 12:00am November 20
Middle ground.....Baptism. That is why traditionally/historically, Font leads to Table. w/o that vital connection, the Table's meaning is impoverished. Together -- Font and Table -- with spoken Word (sermon and Scripture) -- the triune God will rock the people of God.
Neal Locke at 12:06am November 20
@Neal - at your church, do you allow people who haven't been baptized to partake in communion. Or pre-confirmation youths, for that matter?
Neal Locke at 12:09am November 20
@Neal -- I'm also trying to follow you here -- are you saying that more emphasis (or education) on baptism would lead to more meaningful experience of Eucharist? I wonder if those in the baptist tradition (they seem to elevate baptism pretty highly, anyhow) have this experience?
Michael Simants at 12:19am November 20
As neither minister nor Presbyterian:
The Eucharist has meant different things to me at different times. I think the time that it really struck home to me what I felt it should be about was when visiting a Synagogue for the Shabbat service. The congregants taking the bread/wine. I think I realized then that communion should be about communing... Read More.
At that moment, it became for me somewhat of a "family dinner" type event... More like Thanksgiving dinner than like Friday-night 'round the TV dinner. But a time for a family to come together and break bread.
For me, I think the church (in the collective sense) has focused too much on the "Blood/Body" aspect (almost using communion as an evangelism time) and not enough on the "COMMUNE" part of the word.
Finally, like a family dinner, it should be a time of Peace. I think of Rich Mullin's recording: "Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Peter's Square)". "In His Blood and in His Body/In this bread and in this wine/Peace to you"
Neal Locke at 12:27am November 20
@Michael - For a non-minister, non-Presbyterian, your response is actually about where I come down, too, I think. At least, when I can envision communion as something meaningful, I imagine it along those lines. But man, that vibe seems so absent from most churches I've been to. And I sometimes get the sense that it's not how the ministers see it, either.
David W at 12:30am November 20
I'd rather talk about the fact that communion was way different in NT times...
Michael Simants at 12:36am November 20
I've not thought much about it (until tonite), yet wonder if it's a partly a matter of context.
Meaning, that "normally" the context of communion is as its own entity, versus part of a bigger event (celebration is probably not the right word), yet go with me here...
Going back to family dinners... There's always that one person (for my my ... Read MoreGrandfather) that is missing in body, yet you know they are still there with you. The picture for me (on that night at Synagogue) was that even though (in the case of Judiasm) the Messiah had not come, He was still somehow there.
Now, for us as Christians (in accepted definition) we do not physically have our missing, yet beloved, Family Member in the room with us, but we know He is there. So it then becomes a family celebration in that we are happy that we had our family member with us once for a season, and we know that we will have them with us once again at some point. But until then we hope and watch for the coming of the Lord.
Neal Presa at 9:28am November 20
@ the congregation I serve as pastor, I do allow unbaptized persons to partake if they come forward -- but then follow up soon afterwards about speaking with them about what they just partook, what it meant for them, what it means for the Church, etc. as a way to have further conversation/reflection on baptism.
Just this past Sunday, when i ... Read Morebrought the bread and cup to our children's Sunday School to serve the teachers, the children also wanted some. Since almost all of them have been baptized, I gave them the bread and the cup.
I've also set up a catechumenate-style seminar for youth/young adults preparing to be baptized or preparing to become active, communicant members.
With regards to my point about baptism and your follow-up, education is a key part to it, but also helping folks to see their baptismal commitments lived out Monday through Saturday, in their choices/decisions, in their prayers, in their life together as the Church. Eucharist is enriched when that happens.
Steven Chastain at 5:33pm November 20
Good quote I read recently (my paraphrase): "The Lord's supper was a substantial meal with a symbolic meaning. The church has made it a symbolic meal with a substantial meaning." In other words there is (can be? should be?) something holy about simply sitting down at a table and sharing a meal with our family in Christ. Maybe the potluck lunch we have after worship once a month is more Eucharistic than the little styrofoam wafer we eat a half hour before that.