Just a byte of bread?

You may have noticed a Twitter storm recently about online communion.

Whether you noticed or not, here a good summary story about the cause of the activity and the discussions in the United Methodist Church.

Morgan Guyton on the Eucharist

Morgan Guyton writes about the Eucharist:

For the first 1500 years of Christianity, the high point of every worship gathering was Eucharist. The sermon served to prepare the hearts of the congregation to receive the body and blood of Christ. In today’s Protestantism, the sermon has replaced Eucharist as the focal point of our worship. And the individualistic altar call has replaced the communal table as the congregation’s standard response to the proclaimed word. I wonder if this change is the reason that the Protestant gospel became more about hell than the heavenly banquet that Eucharist proclaims.

Missing the sacrament

Aside

A post on the absence of Eucharist from the life of the United Methodist Church.

Would you preach once a quarter?

Catching up on some blogs I missed while away.

Teddy Ray has some helpful suggestions for pastors wanting to move to weekly celebration of Holy Communion.

The comments include a link to a good post by retired Bishop Whitaker about the importance of using the church’s prayer of Great Thanksgiving in the celebration.

Sign of unity or protest?

Drew McIntyre offers an extended reflection and commentary on the Eucharist table as the center of a protest at General Conference 2012.

In a world of partisan politics, bitter divides, and thoughtless polemic, the Eucharist should be one place where God reaches through all of the muck and mire to speak a word of grace and peace.  The Lord’s Table is where, like Christ, we are taken, blessed, broken, and given.  To make the Eucharist our act instead of God’s, a mere tool in a game of political manipulation rather than a sacrament of God’s grace, is a great disservice to Christ and his church.

Elaine Heath: What I actually said

Here is something Elaine Heath wrote elsewhere in response to reactions from her presentation at the United Theological Seminary conference I attended yesterday:

Yesterday I participated in a very interesting conference on Theology, Eucharist, and Ministry in Dayton, Ohio. My assignment was to make remarks on evangelism and the Eucharist, the remarks being a sort of précis of a chapter I’ll be writing for the forthcoming volume on the Eucharist that will be published by Kingswood. I am already hearing back from people who heard things I did not actually say, so I want to say again here, what I will be writing about in that chapter. It is okay with me if you want to share these few words with someone. I focused on the kenotic meaning of the Eucharist, how when we take the bread and wine we are not only receiving the salvific love of God, but we are offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to work in union with that missional God. Quoting Nouwen, I described this as our offering ourselves to God to be “taken, blessed, broken, and given.” I lifted up the kenotic hymn of Phil. 2:6-11 which urges all Christians, not just clergy, to follow this path of receiving and giving in the eucharistic life, and named the eucharistic life to which every Christian is called, as a life of ongoing martyrdom. I called attention to the fact that we have serious theological problems with a closed table in some cases, and a gated table in others, where very few can actually preside at a UM table. I raised the question about the assumptions behind this tradition, with regard to who is capable of the degree of sanctity and training and accountability to reliably and with integrity offer the bread and wine to neighbors, particularly with regard to the inherently kenotic meaning of the Eucharist. I framed this as a missional and evangelistic matter for us to explore honestly and openly in light of our missional call as Wesleyans. I assured people during the Q&A that in our communities in Dallas and in my teaching in the Academy we adhere strictly to UM tradition with communion only being served by elders. Thus what I am doing is simply inviting further reflection on the deeper meaning of the Eucharist and its implications in how we carry out our missional and eucharistic vocation. There are ramifications here, of course, as to what constitutes the pastoral vocation, if it is not presiding over the sacraments. I will get into that in my chapter. Meanwhile, be assured, I follow and teach others to follow our tradition as it has evolved up to this time. Thank you for your kindness and charity.