As pastor of a church, I get all kinds of advertising targeted my way. Apparently, we have made such consumers of our churches that there is plenty of money to be made from us, but that’s for another day.
Specifically today I want to fume a bit about the subject line of an email that came through the SPAM filter. While I know, overall, what they were actually selling, the subject line was irritating. What was it?
“There is still time to save on Communion!”
Yep. After earlier emails about “Saving on Communion” and “Discount on Communion,” this one has pushed me to the rant level. Addressing the practical idea, first, though: there are no pre-packaged wafer/juice combos that are more financially beneficial than a large bottle of 100% juice (for us Baptists) and some homemade bread. Given that I haven’t seen any pre-packs that include wine (I haven’t looked, though), I don’t think the Presbyterians are looking to save a buck anyway.
This has me concerned about something else, though. I commented above about the spending ourselves into a consumer church culture, and the idea that the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, or the Eucharist, is something we have allowed to get wrapped into this.
Seriously? I can understand price-checking on the microphones and the batteries for them. For bulletin blanks or for paper towels, sure we should shop cheap.
But even down here in the Symbolic/Memorial Camp, never mind the folks in the Real Presence or Consubstantiation Camps, we should be coming to the Table of the Lord with “financial savings” so far from our minds that it does not even darken the door.
First of all, this is Communion we are talking about. Based on my reading of history, part of the first generation of Christians’ problem with society was cannibalism for participating in Communion. Since the bread and the cup were referred to as the Body and Blood of the Lord, those looking to take offense saw this as a great offense. Christians were eating people!
From that point forward, there have been people who have risked their lives to take the bread and the cup. LIVES. Are we actually worried about how well this fits into our budgets?
Second of all, this is Communion we are talking about. It is the reminder of our Lord and Savior and part of the heritage of Christians all the way back to before the Cross. BEFORE THE CROSS, PEOPLE! We do not know for certain that we would have kept baptizing had Jesus not commanded it after the resurrection, but we know He commanded the Supper that night!
What price is too high for the church to take part in this observance? Even for those of us who see it as ordinance and not sacrament? (Leaving that discussion aside, for now.)
Are we really sure that sitting in business session and saying, “Well, church that is all the redeemed of all the age, if we can get 10% more off, we’ll join you at the Lord’s Table.”? I doubt it. I know of no church, anywhere, that willfully ignores Christ’s command to take, eat, in remembrance of Him. None.
Third, and most importantly, this is Communion we are talking about. Jesus paid for this. With His body, broken for us, and His blood, poured out for us. The general fact that we can bring our sinful selves to His table should humble us to the point of not thinking of saving a buck.
It is the cost He paid for the Table that saved us!
That’s just my rant on this subject. We will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper this Sunday at Almyra Baptist. We will invite all those who have publicly professed “Jesus is Lord” and been baptized to join us at the Lord’s Table. Not because we got a good deal on juice and crackers.
Because it is the opportunity for us to remember and participate not only with the body that is present, but the with body for all the ages, and with Him whose body was given for us.