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Switch to Forum Live View Holy Communion - A Swedenborgian Perspective
8 years ago  ::  Dec 16, 2010 - 9:58AM #1
Posts: 43

Tonight, my New Church congregation will celebrate its first Holy Supper/ Holy Communion together!  Since we have so many new people this is what I wrote to them as a way to get ready for this beautiful sacrament.


Holy Supper/ Holy Communion

Holy Communion, called by some Holy Supper, is an ancient Christian  sacrament body spoken of in the Gospels.  From the Gospel of Luke ...

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.  15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;  16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves;  18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 Likewise He also tookis the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

In the Christian New Church, we celebrate Holy Communion several  times a year.  The actual service includes a brief talk, and then the  wine and bread are passed and everyone partakes.  (Water or juice is  provided for those whom the consumption of alcohol is unwise or  unhealthy.)  Within what is actually a rather simple sacrament lies a  true celebration of the heart of the Christian faith - or as the New  Church theology phrases it, "the primary thing of external worship."

The first part to consider is that the call the celebrate the Holy  Supper is an unqualified call.  Regardless of our station in life -  broken or blessed - we are called by Jesus to this communion.  He  arrived in life living with others as they were.  Around the table of 12  disciples - the first group gathered for the Holy Supper - were Thomas  the serial doubter, Judas the betrayer, Peter the mercurial hot-and-cold  one.  The other 8 brought their imperfections as well.   We will bring  the same.

Secondly, consider the elements of the Holy Supper - unleavened  bread and wine.  We are asked to picture unleavened bread as symbolizing  our desire to bring a "sincere heart" to life.  A sincere heart wraps  around that deep call to love unconditionally.  We take it into us -  "eating it" - because that is life - bringing in that piece of God.

Wine differs from the bread in that wine actually comes into being  from fermentation process.  This makes for a fascinating paradox within  the elements - one, unleavened bread, "pure," the other, wine,  "contested."   Fermentation images the struggle of truth with falsity,  with the end - wine - becoming the fruit of that struggle.  We must  welcome that struggle.  It is part of life.  I love the words of Yann  Martel that speak so clearly to the struggle ....

Doubt is useful for a while.  We must  all pass through the Garden  of Gethsemane.  If Christ played with doubt, so must we.  If Christ  spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, “My  God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also  permitted doubt.  But we must move on.  To choose doubt as a philosophy  of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.

So we bring the sincere heart and truth born of struggle together,  together.  Sit with the words.  In this Christian denomination, I will  file a report at the end of year that asks me to record the number of celebrants.    What a marvelous word!  How many "celebrated" this wondrous sacrament!   And we celebrate it in the form of a holy "communion" - an act or  instance of sharing, together.
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7 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2011 - 12:23AM #2
Posts: 9,063

Ceblair uses the word 'doubt' that Jesus doubted when in Gethsemeni and prayed to the Father.Doubting is not knowing; I think Jesus KNEW what was going on but he experienced total emptying; this is no foreign to us, we have experienced the dark nights but still deep down'we know' - we may not feel it...  but we know.

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7 years ago  ::  Dec 05, 2011 - 4:20PM #3
Posts: 43

Good point.  

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