Tuesday, November 30, 2010

D.I.Y. Communion

In my area I have noticed an interesting and somewhat disturbing trend of "Do It Yourself Communion." For example, a local non-denominational church posted in the local paper, "On the first Friday of every month, the _______ Church will be open from 9:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m. with prepackaged bread and juice available throughout that time. Whenever it is convenient for you feel free to pop in, and take Communion or take it with you, and take some home to your family as well."

(I have seen similar statements coming from Nazarene Churches as well, so please don't think I am picking on this particular church, their statement just reminded me of this practice. )

So here are my questions:

What would motivate us to serve communion this way?
What if anything about this statement should disturb us?
What does this statements say about the ecclesiology of the participating local church?
What does it say about their understanding of Communion?
What role does a sacramental versus an ordinance understanding play in "D.I.Y. Communion"?
How is this similar/dissimilar to home communion?
What would you tell a member of your congregation who proposed that your church participate in something similar?

I look forward to learning from your responses.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent Wreath

Advent has begun. I trust you all have had a great first Sunday of this season.

My wife and I moved to our town in June. She got a job at the Nazarene Church here as part-time pastor alongside the full-time pastor. I was taken on as a one-day-a-week/unpaid deacon. In one of our recent meetings we decided that I would be in charge of the Advent wreath for this year. I thought about using whatever the church had on hand, but I figured, 'You know what, why not just make one.'

So I did (pictured above). I cut pine branches and holly branches and cedar-looking branches and put them together around a circle-shaped 'oasis'. The symbolism of the different foliage is significant, so we took the first part of the service to have a liturgy explaining and sanctifying the making of the Advent wreath. We were happy to find that after the service, many of the congregation complimented the 'new' Advent wreath and appreciated the explanation.

In light of this, I wonder how many of our congregations know what the Advent wreath means? Do any of you take time to explain the meaning of all the elements and not just the candles? I had only participated in a service like this a couple of times and found it to be a really positive experience for our largely 'liturgically deprived' congregation.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blog Profile: Advent Longings

Quick resource post at the start of advent - follow Pastors Jon Twitchell, Jeremy Scott and others on their Advent Longings blog. They are providing resources for local churches to journey through the Advent season together.  Join in!  Thanks to all the contributors for their efforts!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Service of Infant Baptism

This Sunday (Advent 1a) our son Joseph, who just turned one on Wednesday, will receive the sacrament of baptism.  Gloria and I are thrilled that the timing worked out so that our family from both sides is able to be present.  (Our now-3-yr-old Andrew was baptized at St. Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow, so none of our family were able to share in the service.)  My dad, a Nazarene elder and pastor from Nashville, TN, is in town to officiate my cousin's wedding on Saturday, so he'll be able to preside over his grandson's baptism on Sunday as well, which is about as perfect a solution we could ever come up with in this time of pastoral transition at Xenia Naz.

I thought I'd share the liturgy I've put together for the service.  I value your feedback and welcome you to use it, adapt it, share it or rewrite it as you find useful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Protestant Crucifix

A few years ago I came across a term that I had never heard before. A 17th century Protestant writer, Daniel Brevint, described the communion table as a 'Protestant Crucifix'. It made me think a lot about the words we use when we describe what we do at the Eucharistic Table. The writer sought to provoke the reader to think of the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist.

In response to this theme of sacrifice and the altar as the Protestant Crucifix, Charles Wesley penned the following hymn:

Would the Saviour of mankind
Without His people die?
No, to Him we all are join'd
As more than standers by.
Freely as the Victim came
To the altar of His cross,
We attend the slaughter'd Lamb,
And suffer for His cause.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Words When Serving Communion

What do you say to the recipient when you serve communion?  When you offer the bread?  The cup?

Many liturgies include specific instructions for what the minister should say, such as:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nazarenes: "Memorial" or "Real Presence"?

I was at a CEU seminar the other day with Dr. Henry Spalding, provost at MVNU, and previous professor of theology/philosophy at ENC, TNU and NTS. I asked a question about the spectrum of understandings regarding the sacraments present in the denomination. His answer was long and quite good. Two comments in particular stood out, but we shall address them one at a time:

"There is no way anyone can read anything but a memorialist view in what our Articles of Faith actually say."

That comment was a little surprising to me. Is it possible to see in our AoF's a real presence theology? Is it possible to see anything but a memorialist theology? His comment really got me thinking.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Advent and Christmas practices

Two more Sundays to Advent 1. In anticipation of this time of anticipation, I wanted to get some ideas about singing during the Advent season.

Advent and Christmas have been high-jacked by consumer culture. The shops are already being transformed into Christmas shopping Meccas, the shoppers are receiving leaflets in the mail advertising Black Friday, and the children are being bombarded with toy advertisements during Dora the Explorer and the Backyardigans. Once the shopping commences, the shoppers are enveloped with Christmas songs, 'I'll be home for Christmas', 'I'm dreaming of a White Christmas', even 'Joy to the World'.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Disposing" of the Elements

In an effort to keep my promise to add content more regularly and revitalize the conversation 'round these parts, I was looking back through old posts. I knew there were at least a few instances where I had an idea for what I thought would be a good topic to post about, and created a draft but never finished and published it.  This was one, but I hadn't even begun writing it - just had a title! (weird, I know.)

I think it's a good thing to bat around, though - certainly something we have had some discussion about at Xenia Naz: what to do with the elements - the cup in particular - after communion?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

New Domain, New Look, Slightly New Ethos

It's been almost four months since I said I was "coming out of retirement" on facilitating this blog, and sadly, this is my first post since then.  Guilt overwhelms me.  Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Not sure what's motivated me to get back on it tonight...perhaps it's because I've been messing around with domain purchase/registration and getting a couple of other websites (TBA) set up too...or perhaps it's because I know I'm about to get flamed by our "concerned" friends for this video, so I figure, why not get back into the blogging about sacraments and liturgy, since that's just the sort of "evidence" the CNs will capitalize on to brand me "emergent" (which continues to baffle and befuddle me - yes, BOTH baffle AND befuddle...)??