Weekend Message Q&A

Here are the questions I received from this weekend's message.

Q – I really appreciated your sermon on this topic this week! As a former Catholic, I often have felt we EFree folks forget how significant communion should be in our faith journey, even if we are just "remembering" and it isn't for salvation purposes (only Jesus saves, not something we do). How would you suggest we take this a step further to our time OUTSIDE of these church walls? Often times, I still think of communion as something I do at church. Clearly, in Jesus' day, it wasn't a church function only.....it was with your family, at your home, and together as well as corporate worship times. It is also more than symbolic ideals, as you shared, so it should be something more long-lasting in my thoughts and my faith journey. It shouldn't become a ritual I do every week, or once per month only at Church. How could we go further with this do you think?

A – I think you may have answered the question. The early church celebrated the Lord’s Supper as part of community meals. I know of some churches that celebrate it in their small groups. A church I visited a few weeks ago only celebrated it at a monthly meal of their church community until recently. I think we (that includes me) need to deepen our experience of this meal. And I think it has as much to do with our experience of anticipating Christ’s return and eagerly anticipating his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. But it also has to do with the depth of our community life as a church. I know I have a long way to do on this.

Q – Awesome message! When talking about one’s often twisted history of communion in the church, were you calling out [any particular kind of] church? I grew up for many years with the strict rules, regulations, and “being worthy enough” to receive communion. Please clarify. I certainly have lived through it. 

A – I wasn’t calling out any particular church denomination. In fact, I had churches like the ones in our own particular tradition in mind. Damaging religiosity is everywhere, in every church tradition.

Q – I just wanted to make a slight note to you about a part of your message today that I found very confusing. It was towards the later part of the message when you were talking about the verse in 1 Cor about not taking communion in an "unworthy manner".

I felt like you were very passionate about it but I had a hard time following what you were trying to say. [My husband] made the comment that might be assuming people understood the traditional or "high church" interpretation of that passage. I felt like you laid out very well why you disagreed with that interpretation, but I didn't understand what you were necessarily disagreeing with….

Maybe I wasn't following along as well as I could have been, but it would have been very helpful if you could have given a quick "This is what churches have mistakenly taught about this passage" and "This is what I believe scripture actually saying" then laid out the reasons why.

A – I’m guessing you were not alone. I could have been much clearer. I should have focused in more on that point. I tried to take on way too much with too little time.

My basic point is that churches too often put unnecessary barriers to people at Communion. And I’m not even talking about requiring membership in their church. I'm talking about the idea I’ve heard throughout my life that if you have any “sin in your life” or if you have relational conflict with anyone you should pass on Communion. I can’t find that teaching in the Bible, and my concern is that when people hear things like this they begin to put up even more personal barriers to taking Communion. And then, when they take it, I’m afraid they’ve become arrogant enough to believe they no longer have “sin in their life” or they are relationally whole. Everyone who takes Communion is unworthy apart from Christ, and we can’t add anything to what Christ has done.

What complicates it is that people misinterpret the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 by ignoring the context of those words (i.e., the problem he clearly describes and he is addressing). The problem was that the rich people were going ahead and eating before the poorer folks arrived. The poorer folks would go hungry. And some of the rich folks would even drink too much. So all of Paul’s words have to do with this particular relational injustice and sin, not whether or not the Corinthians had unconfessed sin or relational conflicts in their lives.

Q – Why didn’t Pharaoh die during the 10th plague? Wouldn’t he have been the firstborn?

A – I can only assume he was not the firstborn. Maybe he had an older brother who had died.