Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Table

In Churches of Christ, we are more like a brotherhood than a franchise (to steal the image from my partner Steve Sandifer). This wasn't true 30+ years ago. If you were miles away on a vacation, but needed your 6:00pm-service-fix, you could step into a C of C and everything would look just like the home church--2 songs...prayer (which you could almost quote verbatum)...song...sermon...then, the Lord's Table was taken either one of two ways:
1) People were asked to raise their hand if they weren't there to participate at the am service. These were the hunters and "immature" Christians. How sad was the evening if you were the only one? A person would pray and bring the bread. Another would pray and bring the cup. Then, another prayer by the same person that prayed for the bread (because the rhythm of 1-2-1 is better than 1-2-2) who would bless the offering. You felt obligated to at least put in a dollar or two.
2) Or, those that weren't there in the morning were asked to exit the auditorium where they would be led to Room C. Again, the eyes would glaze over the not-so-serious-Christians.

In January, I plan to begin a sermon series on The Lord's Table. I have been heavily influenced by John Mark Hick's book Come to the Table.
It is common for bloggers to ask for feedback, but today I am passionately requesting your stories. Feel free to respond here or email me at joshross@swcentral.org. Here is what I want to know:
-What would be the ideal way to participate in the Lord's Table? Silence? Conversation? Home? Church? (There is no wrong answer. I am asking for your preference.)
-Is there an experience around the table that has greatly impacted you? Please share.
-If you have studied this formative topic--what books, articles, or sermons would you suggest?

9 comments:

Jeff said...

I prefer silence. Maybe it's because what I've grown up with to some degree but it is a meditative time for me. I may read scripture that reminds me of the sacrifice or the joy I can have because of Christ. It is a time to be still and know, to feel peace...for me.

Our church often has someone get up to read a scripture or give a brief talk. We have one member who has suffered his share of difficulties with his children and he shares such personal emotions that my eyes are always shedding tears when he is done. His stories are raw and always come back to the saving grace and unmatched love of our Father.

Brandon Scott said...

you and I partake together every Sunday through the "center ring". It's made that time so special. Love you, bro.

Luke said...

Michael Frost's "Exiles" has a good chapter on it that I will fax to you when I get back from the Holidays

Anonymous said...

Something that is so sweet for me to witness is our oldest son. Taylor is almost 18 and was born very prematurely and has cerebral palsy and is considered mentally retarded. About 6-7 years ago, at a VBS, they were doing a play centered around the Lord's Supper and were giving all the kids a cup of juice to simulate the cup's role in the Lord's Supper. He would NOT partake...he kept saying that it was Jesus's blood and would not have any part of it. The boy never forgets a thing and mentioned this several times over the years.

This summer, our 12 yo daughter decided it was time for her to be baptized and Taylor said, "What about me?" Knowing that God held him in His hands and would never need to worry, I also knew that Tay loves God and knew that is what people do when they love God. My father baptized him in June...same day as his sissy. Since then, Terry has helped him drink the cup (limited fine motor skills) and break the bread and Tay has not mentioned the blood thing. Sitting there watching father and son take communion is so sweet. We were on vacation without the kids one Sunday and younger brother helped him which was also touching, I was told. So far, this has been my favorite communion memory.

Karise Cheatham

Josh Ross said...

Jeff, thanks for the comments. I love it when people take "communion thoughts" seriously. It is good and formative to be led to the table.

BST, it doesn't get better than the "center ring."

Luke, I will check that out.

Karise, WOW!!! That touched my heart. Fighting back the tears. That story will definitely make it into the sermon series. What an image of the power of Jesus.

Dina said...

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:28-29

This passage helps me to keep my "religous" warship practices in perspective. It is because of the work of the Holy Spirit which has "circumcised" my heart that I have the privladge to come before the lord and remember his death on the cross by eating and drinking with my brothers and sisters in Christ. There is nothing I have ever done, and I could never do enough to earn such a privladge. When I take the Lords supper I am humbled by the reality that such a sinner as I am forgiven. That God himself concidered me worth saving.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.. Romans14:17

Thank you for your HARD work in reaching out to the lost. I know your job requires alot from you and your family. But as you well know, the rewards are ETERNAL.

Anonymous said...

If you back and look at the Passover meal which is where the Lord's Supper began, you will find that people were talking because it is a meal. It is family time. If you have never been part of a Messanic Passover, I would suggest that you try to find the haggadah used in one. I think you can get one online from Barnes and Noble. Michael Tucker probably has one that we have used in the past.

Charlton said...

In one of my first few weeks in Grants, I went to watch some of our elderly members lead worship for a retirement home. It was here that I experienced true communion. I witnessed James Oldfield, a tough old coot with a heart of gold, placing the bread in the mouths of residents because their hands were too arthritic to hold it. I witnessed him holding the cups to their lips because some of them couldn't get it there without spilling it. How beautiful it was to experience genuine Communion with the risen Lord present... present in such brokenness.

Brandon Scott said...

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!