Thursday, February 15, 2007

Jesus Stuck In My Molars - Update

My original post, "Jesus Stuck in My Molars", received a bit more attention in the form of comments and feedback than I'm used to. Other bloggers commented on it, and one of their posts received a comment again. Several agreed with me, or could sympathize in some way, while one comment at Northern Gleaner had a concern that I was making secular humor out of the sacred. While I would disagree with this assessment, I can understand how this conclusion is reached.

First of all, in my mind I'm not ridiculing something sacred - the Lord's Supper. I am taking a lighthearted look at man's feeble interpretation of it. First, the facts of life. Most churches I've attended have had crackers so small - and they're mostly dry - that mixed with my saliva they become glue balls that quite literally get stuck in my molars. I don't have a sensation of anything passing down my throat as if I'm eating something. And quite literally, the small thimble of juice won't wash it down. These are factual observances. If we are supposed to be eating and drinking in the observation of this sacrament (as ordained by Jesus Himself), then why are so many of the usual sensations of eating and drinking missing in the way we carry it out? Food has taste, texture, aftertaste, reaction with the stomach and bowels, all for a reason. God intended it that way. He created it that way to give us yet one more way we can realize Him in this life, to notice, to worship and to give thanksgiving.

Now, if we're supposed to love and worship the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength - in short our whole being - does this include the five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell? We modern evangelicals have no problem with worship with sight (reading the Scriptures with our eyes) or hearing (listening to the Word or to preaching or teaching), but the other three have fallen off the delivery truck. Many historical Christian traditions have made much of all five in worship. Incense was commanded of God in Israel's worship, as was roasting animal meat as a soothing aroma in God's nostrils. In churches that use real wine in communion, often the smell of wine will fill the building and can be an aid to worship. Can we eat food in worship like we can view creation in worship? If not, why not? Much of our thinking has been affected by pietism, fundamentalism and be-goodism to the extent that using incense, wine, real objects that can be touched, etc, is viewed inherently as idolatry. We deem ourselves as more righteous than God's creation, as if we are above it.

Also, there are many different interpretations of communion in history, with relation to the presence of Christ in the elements, as this post at McIntyre's Tavern quite ably shows. If Christ is indeed present in the elements, as Gene Redlin argues in his blog, then why don't/can't we hold that presence in high regard with respect to all our senses from which we worship? I've read Gene enough to know that he's often slighted by Christian traditionalists for his "way-out" Charismatic views on things, and I just can't shake off his description of communion as being a much fuller representation of Christ, His church and our partaking than most of these traditions hold in practice. Why, if we as a body partake in communion, together, as many of the more traditional segments of Christianity hold, do they insist that we do so in quiet, for such a short time span and without interaction with the other members in the body? It's almost if we're left alone to individually commune with God, with the only visible sense of community being the simultaneous act of others communing with God individually. This seems to reflect more of the radical individualism label than the view that Gene holds that is often targeted with the same label. This reductionism lends to a more symbolic view, and reality is sacrificed on the altar of "true spirituality." Should there really be more to it?

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