Ted Grimsrud—May 19, 2023
Probably the places in Christianity where the “sacred” and the “mundane” intersect the most directly are the churches’ sacramental rituals, particularly the observance of communion. Views range from the Catholic notion of transubstantiation, where the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Jesus—and where the actual attainment of salvation depends on one’s participation in (and belief in) the miracle of the Eucharist, to some “low church” views wherein the communion ritual is strictly mundane and symbolic. Even more extreme is the Quaker understanding where there is no communion ritual at all.
As one whose views are decidedly low church, I have not experienced the communion ritual as being very important or meaningful. However, I have thought about it quite a bit and have found my general idealism about the importance of the way of Jesus to be something that informs my views of the sacraments (in this post I will only reflect on communion and will not address the practice of baptism).
I do feel reluctant to take up the issue of communion. It’s not so much that I have personally had negative experiences with communion—actually my experiences have mostly been positive. But I do know people who have had hard experiences: the denial of participation in the Lord’s Supper for my friend’s father back in the 1930s for owning life insurance, a trauma that still haunt her; the gay man who was refused communion when he returned to his home congregation hoping to rebuild a sense of connection; the teen-ager who was told she was too young to take communion, making her feel like a second-class Christian even though she deeply desired to follow Jesus….These exclusions have bothered me.
Continue reading “What (if anything) is special about the sacraments? [Questioning faith #25]”