Archives For Spiritual Practices

Is Communion Safe?

April 11, 2017

>This Sunday I’ll be offering communion at Fall Creek for the first time. We will receive the elements in a way that may be new to some. Here’s how intinction works.

Row by row, people come forward to servers who stand at the head of each aisle, one holding a loaf of bread, the other a cup of wine (or grape juice, in our case). The server holding the bread breaks off a piece and hands it to each person, one by one. Each person then dips the bread into the cup, eats it, and returns to be seated.

On hearing about this for the first time, some folk wonder whether they’ll catch other people’s germs from the bread or cup. 

While I understand the concern, there really is no risk of disease. In fact, this may be the safest method of all. Normally, everybody fumbles around trying to pick up those little freeze-dried crumbs, and a few people sneeze on the tray while they’re passing it along.  This way only one person (the server) touches the bread, and that person will have just washed his or her hands. (I’m actually going to give each of them a tube of hand sanitizer before church.)
I like intinction for several reasons.
First, it’s more earthy, more sensory. Touching the bread and tasting the juice have more tactile appeal than using those dry wafers and tiny cups. 
Also, the act standing and coming forward to receive the elements can be powerful. It seems to re-create our decision to follow Christ and receive his grace. 
Finally, I love the way it symbolizes both our individual relationship with God (we receive the elements individually) and our unity as a body (we’re all doing it together). 
This is a very powerful way to receive communion.

But here’s my question: Given the fact that when we receive the Lord’s Supper, we place ourselves in a position to be alone with God, filled by his Spirit, and transformed by his grace … can it ever be considered safe?

What do you think happens when you receive communion?

One of the core activities of Christian spirituality is the daily pursuit of God through personal spiritual disciplines. For centuries, Christians have done this to become more aware of themselves and more in tune with God.

Zen Balancing Rocks o a Deck, New Zealand

But few Christians today practice these habits—which may account for the generally low level of personal spirituality in the church.

We have lively worship, lots of great activities, and strong opinions on public morals. Yet we often behave selfishly and with a sense of entitlement, as if we don’t know Jesus all that well.

Spiritual disciplines correct that. They expose sin, bring us to repentance, and open a clear channel for communication with God.

Here are seven disciplines you can try during Lent—or anytime.

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Gratitude, like its sister virtue humility, hasn’t always come easily to me. I admit there was a time when I was more focused on what I didn’t have than what I did.

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As a child I recall feeling this as a child at any time when gifts or goodies were distributed. “How come she got a bigger piece of pie than I did? What a cheesy gift. Nobody ever thinks about what I might like.”

Rather than seeing the good things that were all around me, I had a penchant for finding the one bit of inequity or unfairness in my life and use that to fuel my feelings of ingratitude. No wonder I often felt sulky, temperamental, and unhappy.

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Thursday night prayer meeting is the highlight of my week, more important to me even than Sunday worship. Possibly that’s because I am more relaxed and better able to enter the experience. Even so, it is a solid rock on my calendar and I rarely miss.

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What makes this hour rich and powerful is the prayer of a handful of mature brothers and sisters. They pray with the passion and intensity of that poor woman accosting the unjust judge. Their intercession is marked by reality and urgency, as if they know they are doing something of first importance.

When they pray, I want to pray too. And I want to know what they know so I can pray as they pray.

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Prayer is the most basic and widely practiced of all spiritual disciplines. Adherents of nearly every religion—and many nonreligious people—pray. About 84 percent of adults do it every week.

Prayer

Most of our prayer is some form of asking for help, which could be why it often becomes repetitive, stale, and boring. In time we feel unable to hear the voice of God.

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I had been a sporadic journaler for years when my wife, Heather, suggested I try the discipline of daily writing using the free platform 750words.com.

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I was reluctant at first, listing all the reasons why I, a writer, didn’t need to write every day.

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Humility may be the most difficult virtue to acquire because we fear it at the same time we seek it. While we may say we’re trying to be humble, we instinctively avoid things that would make us so. Everyone wants to be humble; nobody wants to be humbled.

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I learned the difference one Sunday when I delivered what I thought was a powerful sermon on self-sacrifice.
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