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Author Topic: An Ancient Ritual  (Read 693 times)

ehbowen

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An Ancient Ritual
« on: May 07, 2017, 11:48:52 pm »
Today at church we observed the Lord's Supper. We normally observe it on the fifth Sunday of months with five Sundays, but as our pastor was out due to illness last week we deferred to this week.

One of the points he made in the sermon related to how this practice and observance has been handed down through the generations. If you took a first-century Christian and plopped him down today in 2017, our pastor said, he wouldn't recognize the clothes, or the building (especially the air conditioning!), or the hymns, or many of the factors that we simply take for granted. But he would immediately recognize and understand the observance of the Lord's Supper, and would be able to participate wholeheartedly.

Just tossing this bit out because it impressed me. Perhaps you have observations on this subject yourself, or on other ancient rituals of other religions which likewise would have been recognizable down through the ages?
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

Jack

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2017, 11:52:56 pm »
Quote from: ehbowen;205874
Today at church we observed the Lord's Supper. We normally observe it on the fifth Sunday of months with five Sundays, but as our pastor was out due to illness last week we deferred to this week.

So what does it look like when Baptists do it? I'm from a sufficiently Catholic background that not doing it at every mass is weird to me, so I don't want to assume.

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ehbowen

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2017, 12:57:17 am »
Quote from: Jack;205875
So what does it look like when Baptists do it? I'm from a sufficiently Catholic background that not doing it at every mass is weird to me, so I don't want to assume.

 
Well, I'm speaking specifically of my present local church. I've been in numerous other Baptist churches; some observed it every week or every month but most often it's been about once a quarter (which is what our fifth Sunday schedule works out to, more or less). Some have used yeast bread or crackers but most use some form of unleavened bread. A prior church made hardtack out of flour and water but my present church just bakes a pie crust from the supermarket and breaks it into pieces.

I've never yet been in a Baptist church which used fermented (alcoholic) wine but I understand that they are out there; Welch's grape juice is our cup of choice. We have little one-ounce disposable plastic cups which fit in a tray which the deacons pass; we fill them with the grape juice using a squeeze bottle. In the kitchen beforehand, of course. The tray of juice cups and the plate of broken pie crust is placed in front of the pulpit and covered with a white cloth before the service begins.

Some Baptist churches center their communion services entirely around the observance of the Lord's Supper but in our case the service proceeds as any other Sunday with hymns, prayers, offertory, a sermon, and invitation. Our church does practice a semi-closed communion; while you don't have to be a member of our church we do ask that you be a member of a church of like faith and practice (baptism by immersion; salvation by grace through faith) if you wish to participate. If not, you are welcome to respectfully sit and observe the proceedings as a guest. Of course, we don't check IDs...but you may have to answer to a Higher Authority.

After the invitation the deacons are called to the front, and they uncover the elements and distribute them to the pastor and musicians first and then throughout the congregation. Everyone takes a piece of bread and a cup of juice and holds it. The pastor gives thanks for the bread first, and then reads from Paul's letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 11:23-24]: 'For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”' The pastor and congregation then eat our pieces of pie crust in unison.

Then the pastor gives thanks for the cup and reads the continuing passage from 1 Corinthians [v. 25]: 'In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”' Again, as he concludes the verse we all drink the grape juice in unison.

He then reads the concluding verse 26 ("For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.") and then jumps to the parallel passage in Matthew (26:30): "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." So we all sing a hymn, usually Amazing Grace. Then we have a prayer of dismissal and depart.

Thanks for asking.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

Jack

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2017, 01:18:02 am »
Quote from: ehbowen;205881
Thanks for asking.

Okay so I've always wondered, if y'all don't transsubstantiate it, what do you get out of it? Is it like a reenactment that makes you think about the sacrifice metaphorically?


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Jack

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2017, 01:21:10 am »
Quote from: ehbowen;205874
other ancient rituals of other religions which likewise would have been recognizable down through the ages?

Lighting candles and burning incense before images is pretty much my go-to and I'm fairly confident that aside from the language barrier, that would be quite recognizable.

Ooh, that begs another question - is it like a meta-ritual that communion reenacts the celebration of an older Jewish ritual that is itself still celebrated?

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ehbowen

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2017, 02:22:24 am »
Quote from: Jack;205883
Okay so I've always wondered, if y'all don't transsubstantiate it, what do you get out of it? Is it like a reenactment that makes you think about the sacrifice metaphorically?


We reject transubstantiation as a doctrine. We believe that Jesus's words, "This is my body..." were not a statement of magical action but simply figurative language...specifically, metaphor. Our reason for believing this is that, when he originally said those words, where was his body? Holding the bread!

What we get out of it is exactly what Jesus and Paul said: "...do this in remembrance of Me.” [Luke 22:19b] "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." We do it in order to remember our Lord, what he went through for us, the hope that we have because of what he accomplished at the empty tomb, and his promise to return for us both individually and generally.
 
Quote from: Jack;205884
Ooh, that begs another question - is it like a meta-ritual that communion reenacts the celebration of an older Jewish ritual that is itself still celebrated?


Actually, that was the point of our pastor's main sermon today; how the various physical and spiritual elements of the Lord's Supper derive from its predecessor, the Passover. How the unleavened bread was prepared in haste, how the parsley or lettuce which Jews dip in oil or water is a memorial to the hyssop which was dipped in blood and used to strike the doorposts, how four cups of wine are used by the Jews to remind them of the four promises in Exodus 6:6-8, and so forth. We do explicitly acknowledge the tie and the heritage.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

Demophon

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2017, 07:53:09 am »
Quote from: ehbowen;205881
Some have used yeast bread or crackers but most use some form of unleavened bread. A prior church made hardtack out of flour and water but my present church just bakes a pie crust from the supermarket and breaks it into pieces.

I've never yet been in a Baptist church which used fermented (alcoholic) wine but I understand that they are out there; Welch's grape juice is our cup of choice. We have little one-ounce disposable plastic cups which fit in a tray which the deacons pass; we fill them with the grape juice using a squeeze bottle. In the kitchen beforehand, of course. The tray of juice cups and the plate of broken pie crust is placed in front of the pulpit and covered with a white cloth before the service begins.


I'm not really sure a first century Christian would recognize grape juice and plastic cups. Are there any words at institution at all? I'm guessing there's no Eucharistic prayer to consecrate the bread and "wine".

ehbowen

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2017, 08:00:23 am »
Quote from: Demophon;205901
I'm not really sure a first century Christian would recognize grape juice and plastic cups. Are there any words at institution at all? I'm guessing there's no Eucharistic prayer to consecrate the bread and "wine".

As I related above, the pastor reads aloud from Paul's passage in First Corinthians as we partake of the elements. Edit To Add: At each stage, the pastor also gives a corporate prayer of thanks for them.

While our putative first-century Christian might not recognize plastic cups, he would recognize it as a cup. And while Welch's is an anachronism, unfermented "new wine" was not unknown in ancient times.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 08:01:13 am by ehbowen »
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

Demophon

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2017, 07:37:16 pm »
Quote from: ehbowen;205903
As I related above, the pastor reads aloud from Paul's passage in First Corinthians as we partake of the elements. Edit To Add: At each stage, the pastor also gives a corporate prayer of thanks for them.

 
Oh, I'm used to churches that consecrate the Eucharist using the institutional narrative of the Last Supper ("This is my body... This is my blood"). I've never heard of using Corinthians rather than the Gospel, but that's cool.

ehbowen

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2017, 09:50:50 pm »
Quote from: Demophon;205912
Oh, I'm used to churches that consecrate the Eucharist using the institutional narrative of the Last Supper ("This is my body... This is my blood"). I've never heard of using Corinthians rather than the Gospel, but that's cool.

 
Sometimes we use the parallel passages in Matthew or Luke; it's not like there's any kind of institutional requirement. However, I've seen the Corinthians passage used much more often than the others in my experience in Baptist churches.
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Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

Jack

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Re: An Ancient Ritual
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2017, 02:05:30 am »
Quote from: Demophon;205912
Oh, I'm used to churches that consecrate the Eucharist using the institutional narrative of the Last Supper ("This is my body... This is my blood"). I've never heard of using Corinthians rather than the Gospel, but that's cool.

 
Haha yeah, that makes way more sense if you're not actually doing the whole transubstantiation thing, anyway.

Though I gotta admit I'd only recognize that as communion in a general sense, not as the same sacrament at all. In my church growing up we all walked on up to get our wafers and had actual sips of wine from the deacons, and you ate as you went and then pondered the mysteries and/or sang the songs.

As a lil'Catholic I actually had gotten the idea somewhere that since most of the sacraments weren't recognized as Official Sacraments On The List Of Seven that other denominations out past, like, Episcopals just didn't do them.
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