Monday, January 10, 2011
Lord's Supper IOU
A friend of mine served a church in a rural area and was going to be gone on Christmas Eve. This created some problems, because for years this church had participated in a Christmas Eve Communion Service. With his absence, there were no ordained elders, district licensed pastors, or even local licensed pastors to stand in his place. Because of this, the churched struggled with what to do.
A. Not serve Communion
B. Serve communion but in violation of the manual and without the presence of clergy.
As he was sharing this, it got me thinking about our heritage. As a part of the camp meeting movement we inherited a lot of the frontier practices of early Methodism. We know that Wesley encouraged elders to celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.
We also know that there was a shortage of clergy and a great distance between the churches they were responsible for. This meant that churches were only able to receive the Lord’s Supper on a quarterly basis. Over time this became the tradition and we moved away from a weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
No one likes a back seat driver but it makes we wonder.
Would we have been better off to appoint others in the local congregations to serve the Lord's Supper in the absence of clergy, allowing for the continuation of a weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper or is it so important that clergy lead in the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper that it warrants a less frequent celebration?
If you had been the pastor that was going to be gone on Christmas Eve, what would you have encouraged them to do in your absence? Why?
I look forward to learning from you.