World Communion Sunday

Today is World Communion Sunday. Over the years, taking Communion / Lord's Supper / Eucharist on this day has been especially meaningful to me. Rather than seek to say something novel or new, I have collected some wisdom from posts I have written over the years. 2010: I wrote a series of blog posts sharing one big lesson I learned from each of the many denominations that have played a major role in my faith journey.  In my post on the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I wrote, "The Read More …

Sermon: A Monthly Meal

Sermon Texts: Ephesians 4:1-6 (NRSV) and John 6:24-35 (The Message) Sermon Excerpt Some people like to watch birds.  Other people like to watch the water.   Still others like to watch television or computer screens.  I like to watch people.  It is a habit I carry with me wherever I go, including here in our sacred space. I should, perhaps, begin with a word of thanks to the person or people who chose to place the pastor’s chair in two different but equally wonderful people watching Read More …

Worship: Mainline Church Planting Trends

The Ecumenical Partners in Outreach collaborated with the Center for Progressive Renewal to conduct the largest study (so far this century) of church planting activities in the major mainline churches of the US and Canada.  A 12 page summary of findings, available online free of charge, highlights eight key insights. Insight #7 Worship Matters (p.11) Time spent on worship relates strongly to growth, at least among traditional and new immigrant churches. Among alternative churches trying Read More …

Sermon: An Open Invitation

Sermon Text: I Corinthians 11:17-34a (The Message) Sermon Excerpt What is it about kitchens that turn them into places for memorable conversations? Before I share what is perhaps my most memorable kitchen encounter, let me give you a little context.  I had traveled with a rather large church group to another state to do mission work.  We were quite a diverse bunch. The teenagers and college students represented many different Christian traditions, and also included a good number who had Read More …

Drive-In Church

After encountering several stories last week of walk up and drive through ashes for Ash Wednesday, it seems appropriate to start this week with the story of a new kind of church: the drive-in church.  Over the past few days several people sent me a link to Amy Kiley's piece on Daytona Beach Drive In Christian Church (Daytona Beach, FL), which holds worship services in an old drive-in theater.  From the comfort of their vehicles parishioners listen to worship on their radios.  When worship Read More …

Online Communion?

As online worship grows in popularity, churches are increasingly tasked with struggling with significant theological issues relating to this new way of being present (virtual presence) in worship.  One obvious area in need of consideration is communion.  More specifically, can Holy Communion / Eucharist / Lord's Supper be a part of an online worship experience? While independent congregations are free to decide the matter for themselves, most congregations who are affiliated with a (or with Read More …

Baptists & Communion Confusion

According to a new survey conducted by LifewayResearch, 96% of Southern Baptist (SB) churches have more inclusive communion practices than are allowed by their denomination's faith statement.  The latest edition (200o) of the Baptist Faith and Message Statement lists baptism and church membership as prerequisites for Communion / Lord's Supper / Eucharist.  According to the survey, 96% of SB allow non-members to participate and 65% allow those who have not been baptized to participate. So Read More …

Prayer of Consecration/Blessing for Sunday, August 5

God of new beginnings, we approach your table desiring an enduring connection with you.  In the blessing of this bread and this cup, bring the way of Jesus into focus. Enlarge our view of the abundant life.  Remind us of the call to follow, and strengthen us to travel that path.  May our hunger be fully satisfied with the extravagant provision of the Bread of Life in whose name we pray.  Amen. Read More …

Bread for the Journey

I have been privileged to be a part of Christian communities that celebrate Communion differently.  Among these differences: Name: Holy Communion, Lord's Supper, or Eucharist Frequency: weekly, monthly, or periodically Who Presides: only ordained clergy or only lay leaders or both groups are welcome in this role Presence: a complex continuum of understanding how Jesus is present Elements: (1) bread - a single shared loaf or multiple loaves - single option for all or for most with Read More …

What if Communion Tables Were Freed . . . ?

Leslie Leyland Fields describes herself as "an award-winning author of eight books, a regular columnist and contributor to Christianity Today, a national speaker with Ambassador Speaker’s Bureau, and a sometimes commercial fisherwoman with her husband and 6 children, all of whom live on Kodiak Island, Alaska."  Her latest "Stones to Bread" column in Christianity Today (March 2012) asks the question "if we have such an extravagant Savior, why are our Communion meals so paltry?"  She sums up her Read More …