According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jeff Cook - How Unlike the Eucharist, Parts 1 & 2

The Celebration of the Christ of the Eucharist

Less for Tech (by Jeff Cook)

Jeff Cook lectures on philosophy at the University of Northern Colorado and he is the author of Seven: The Deadly Sins and the Beatitudes(Zondervan 2008) and Everything New (Subversive 2012). He helps pastors Atlas Church in Greeley, Colorado. You can connect with him and @jeffvcook
Spend Less on Tech, More on Wine (by Jeff Cook)
A wedding at taco bell is clever but lacks some of the holy.
I was baptized in a hot tub. I’m still bummed I didn’t wait for a more celebratory time and space.
I am aware there isn’t a secular/sacred divide (“for the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”). But as churches across our country spend countless dollars hiring speakers, purchasing the best tech, paying for upgrades to the building and new carpet for the floor–Don’t you think it’s time to move past cheap crackers and plastic thimbles in order to enjoy and receive the body of Christ broken for you?
Intimacy with your spouse ought to be elevated.
“Quality time” with your children deserves first consideration—so too, the sacramental: the physical events, times and symbols God tells us uniquely unveil his nature, love and character.
The quality of the elements churches purchase and offer speak to us all of how highly we view the meal, especially when compared to other events in our gatherings.

But “This is Christ’s body broken for you.” And for all your guests, family and enemies. And it should be elevated.
Those who love Jesus, may have come to hear a speaker or lift up their hands to music, but these are secondary, and need to be viewed as secondary by service creators. Is not the experience of Jesus, and that alone, worthy of your community gathering regularly? Are not all other centering events and experiences mere idols in comparison? Should we not embrace the perspective of the Baptist, who, when many came out to him, said: “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven … [Jesus] must become greater; I must become less”?
How can churches elevate communion in their gatherings? How can we transform large church auditoriums with theater seating to showcase the table? What are the most meaningful qualities to your communion experience?

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord’s Supper: Who is Unworthy? (Jeff Cook)

Who is Unworthy to Celebrate in Church? (by Jeff Cook)
I went to a large wedding a few years back in which the clergy invited only those who had jumped through the right hoops to come forward and receive the body and blood of Jesus. The leader then asked those of us who had not jumped through their hoops to “pray for the unity of all believers.” Of course, I sat there thinking, “The only thing keeping us disunified are your silly hoops.”
Unfortunately many choose to use the Lord’s Supper to display the in-crowd versus "everyone else". In such “celebrations” the power of the Lord’s Supper is actually inverted—showcasing the division of humanity and unveiling a God whose displays of affection and grace are conditional.
How unlike Jesus.
Christ didn’t give those who came to him a theological quiz before he fed them. Levi didn’t have his theology all lined out when he rose to eat with Jesus. The 5,000 were basically a mob. Some who received the first Lord’s Supper rejected the cross (Matthew 16.21-23)—and still Jesus invited them to the table and said: “This is my body broken for you.” In fact, the Gospel writers go out of their way to call Jesus’ dining companions “the sinners” (Mark 2.16, et al).
For some, communion was where clarity started.
In my previous post, I critiqued churches that have too low a view of Communion. In the next two posts I’d like to critique those who have elevated the Lord’s Supper so high It loses its primary function—the tangible display of God’s grace extend to all.
I would challenge those who reject an open table to answer the following: Where is the boundary marker clearly displayed in the Bible for who may eat the meal Jesus offersAnd has God really made it our job to judge who can and cannot commune with the Church?
In a previous conversation, some immediately turned to 1 Corinthians to argue that exclusivity at the table is Biblically required, that if the table were open to everyone some would receive the Eucharist in “an unworthy manner” (1 Cor 11.27). Those arguing this position apparently believed they (or their church) had the authority to tell the rest of us who is unworthy (something lacking in 1 Corinthians 11) and which hoops the guests they exclude have failed to jump through (something also lacking in 1 Corinthians).
Ironically, the purpose of 1 Corinthians 11 is to rebuke those who have excluded others (namely the poor) when gathering for the Eucharist (11.17-22). In response Paul teaches how to receive the elements, not who has the qualifications for feasting. Paul said, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (v. 28). And again, “If we learn how to judge ourselves, we will not incur judgment” (v.31).
Paul does not say, “Pastors and overseers, ensure that only [enter the description of worthy folks] come to the table.” No. The only person Paul says you have the authority to deem unworthy is yourself.
By making the table exclusive, some churches are ironically telling those they believe most need a transformative encounter with Jesus not to come forward and have a transformative encounter with Jesus. How unlike Christ.
Next time we will push into this and discuss how Jesus’ table fellowship with sinners was prototypical and sets the standard for our practice today.

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