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September 07, 2007

Comments

This kind of"device" is used when a church or christian orginzation wants to have a Commuion service at per say a area or something like that.Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa uses this when they rent out the Irvine Meadows each year for their noon Good Friday service.

We've used these at Awana camp before. It would have been prohibitive for us to prepare everything in the mountains like that, but God really moved in our observance of the Lord's Supper that year.

My old church used those. They're less messy and you can easily gather up and save the unused ones. The "crinkle" wasn't a problem, though the older folks sometimes had problems opening the foil. The form does not necessarily detract from the substance (no pun intended).

Personally, I share your feeling of offense. But it is a feeling I share, not a conclusion based on exegesis of scripture. And that is the correct standard, I think.

And I wouldn't say that there is no place for convenience. Not every church has a kitchen where communion trays can be prepared. And I suspect that there are some communion services where only a handful of communicants are there & it might make sense to simplify preparation.

it seems we could really streamline this whole pesky ritual by making Communion chewy health bars. The jelly in the middle could be made of reduced wine and the flaky wrapping could be unleavened bread. Unwrap, eat, repeat! Now you can enjoy communion on the go, on a picnic, or in Europe where the elements are nowhere to be found on a Sunday morning.

Now available in non-alcoholic flavor to remain sensitive to the twelve-steppers in the back row and in the choir.

I agree, and I'll even up you one and state that I believe modern communion practice is, generally, abominable. Nobody's yet given me a good answer why our Lord's Supper isn't an actual supper anymore in the vast majority of churches.

Well, the issue here I guess is: Can the Lord's Supper be presented in any alternate froms based on believers access or lack thereof to the materials officially used or even in the case of convenience. Well, if there is to be no forms alternative to a cup of wine and a piece of unleavened bread, then many churches who serve grape juice are already showing disrespect to God and to His Remembrance observance. But I think the answer lies in understanding that if a community of believers really are pressed for supplies like wine/grape juice then I really do not think God cares as long as their motivations and their hearts are right. But I think that if using these snac-pacs are a sign of laziness and a forgetfulness of the seriousness and gravity of the observance then of course there are problems. I honestly cannot see God seething on His throne as His kids in a spell of financial difficulty give praise and their adoration of Christ for His death and betrayel via means of a coca-cola and a pop tart. If I recall correctly, God cares more about the motivations than He cares about making sure we have a bottle of first century vintage Gamaliel and a Mary's Wonderbread Special.

I'm sorry to ask, but why is this so offensive?

Personally, i see no Biblical reason for outrage. This isn't demeaning the sacriment, if that's your belief, it's streamlining it. Where's the line? Is it wrong to use plastic cups instead of glass or clay? Juice instead of Wine? Real bread instead of Unleven?

Why does this cross the line and other things don't? Why does this cause outrage more then the others?

I don't think Derek was "outraged" by this because it's unbiblical per se.

I agree with other commenters that many of the practices in modern churches are strongly divergent from how the Lord's Supper was originally practiced. That said, I think the problem is that this sort of packaging seems to trivialize communion in a way that substituting wafers for bread doesn't.

It's packaged like a Lunchable or something mass-produced and commercialized. It's sort of guilt by association: should communion be packaged in the same way as TV dinners?

Many protestant churches lack any sense of the "holy" or mystical. (I say this as someone who was recently baptized in, and who attends, a protestant church.) Having communion served in this way seems to lack something ... perhaps the reverence that is an integral part in communion service.

Sorry for the double post, I just want to clarify the first sentence of my previous post. I meant to say something like "I don't believe that this sort of communion cup is unbiblical. But I don't think that was Derek's main point."

I agree with Elias. Who gets to draw the line on this and with what authority, seeing as how Scripture doesn't seem to speak on this?

I would think the opposite end of the spectrum would be more problematic anyhow (e.g., using decadent chalices or the like) allowing for the possibility of placing undue significance on the objects in use.

This strikes me as very much North American -- marketing everything to make a buck. We want things to be fast and convenient. The instant and disposable is good. We don't have time to slow down. The elements of the Lord's Supper have been taken and are being marketed, and a selling point seems to be convenience.

I'm reminded of an Alistair Begg quote. "We are drifting toward a religion which consciously or unconsciously has its eye on humanity rather than on deity."

You know, I was praying in my car the other day. Wasn't on my knees, didn't have my eyes closed or anything, but it was an opportune time so I took it. I've also been known to keep a mass produced, North American reader-friendly NIV Bible in places other than my study that I might frequent just in case I don't get a chance to read in the mornings. Is convenience a sin? Not in and of itself. Will my or any of your churches likely adopt these things for Sunday morning worship? Not likely, and I don't think that's what they're intended for. On the other hand, would I remember my Lord's sacrifice with something like this on a wilderness trek, etc? Sure. And I don't see why not.

At first I was a bit thrown by this (and revolted), but then I remembered that communion is by large a solemn remembrance and observance directed by Christ Himself...between the individual and God alone. His version of breaking bread and good company did not require the Vatican's silver chalice by any stretch. It rather required sincerity and an existing relationship with Christ.

Here's the thing. Luke 22:19 "And when He had taken some bread and [Matt 14:19] given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

The last phrase is the part that gets me. "Do this in remembrance of me." As long as we're remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us by giving of his own body and blood willingly, then i don't care how it's packaged, sold or advertised, as long as we remember Jesus' sacrifice for us on the Cross.

It's not the outward act, but the internal act of the Christian taking communion that matters.

I think these were originally created for ministers who are giving Lord's Supper to those in hospital beds, or for when communion trays aren't convenient.

Build a bridge, get over it.

"...or for when communion trays aren't convenient."

Except the ad explicitly says they're designed for communion trays.

SelectedPete said above that communion was "a solemn remembrance and observance directed by Christ Himself...between the individual and God alone."

In that case, just mail me my cup each week. What do I need other Christians for?

I am helping plant a church and we meet in a theatre. We have used these because we don't have the facilities to do anything else. Should we just not do communion then? I think Corey made a good point. Where is the line drawn? I think moving away from decadence is a good thing.
My old church used those phony gold plated trays (like many protestant churches) and I don't think the communion there was any more meaningful.
I do think they were originally created for visitation settings where other preparatons could be made.
I have to admit that I was disappointed that an STR representative would take such a strong stance against this as it seems to go against what they are about (making a biblical case on issues and not just sentiment).

It's interesting to me that so many comments here equate reverence with "decadence," as if a respectful posture toward the Supper and its vessels were somehow antithetical to Christianity.

And the nods to wilderness treks, picnics, camps, etc. miss the point entirely. These packs are *marketed* to churches and, as William noted, *designed* for communion trays.

Echoing Derek Cardwell, I too must ask why the celebration of the Lord's Supper isn't an actual supper. Does anyone know how the more seemingly orthodox Eucharist rituals (ie. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic etc.) developed?

I also do not see how this is irreverent. Is it because it comes in a package? So did the saltines or whatever else it is that our churches serve us. The fact that they removed them from the package first is irrelevant.

Is it because it takes the work out of it? Who among us makes their communion bread/wine. Someone hands it to me on a tray, so what's the difference?

I agree with others who pointed out that so much of what we call a communion service is unlike what was celebrated in the early church. Their communion service was a meal. If anybody has the right to call something irreverent, it would be the first century believers calling us irreverent for thinking that we are celebrating the Lord's supper with a piece of cracker so small you can barely fit it between your teeth to chew it, and a "sip" of grape juice so small it couldn't wet a parched mouth.

What does annoy me about this is the commercialization of Christianity. This is just another way for people to make money off Christianity (as if our local Bible bookstores didn't already have enough).

Emmzee, I thought your comment was very well said.

Yes, it's our hearts that matter, but the way we treat something reflects the way our hearts think about that thing, it affects the way we'll think about that thing over time, and it also affects the message you give to the world about your value of that thing.

Think about weddings. What if all people who got married went to McDonalds in tank tops and shorts to say their vows? After 20 years of this, wouldn't our culture's view of marriage change because of our actions? By not treating the day as sacred, with reverence, the hearts of the people (i.e., their attitude towards marriage) would be changed over time. (This doesn't mean that everyone needs a $100,000 wedding. This just means that there's a certain respect we show at weddings to reflect our reverence of the practice, and if we lost the respect in the practice, the respect in our hearts would follow over time.)

Leaving aside the communion cups for a moment (for I'm sure there are occasions such as camping trips where they would be helpful), can you not see that our actions affect our hearts, our attitudes, our reverence?

>>The fact that they removed them from the package first is irrelevant.

But it's not irrelevant. Do you really think that passing an opened box of crackers around your church for communion wouldn't affect the congregants' attitude toward the Lord's Supper?

I understand why the convenience is attractive, but is it truly necessary to turn communion into a crass non-event for the sake of making it handy ?

The preparation and distribution of the elements is a prayer itself isn't it ?

Many new Christians don't even comprehend the significance of taking the bread and the cup,and this type of presentation will certainly diminish their atittude toward the service.

At our last church, the pastor relayed a discussion they had in seminary. The question: can you do communion with a bag of Doritos and a can of Pepsi?

His response (which is similar in tone to many responders here) is that while you *could* (e.g., you're stuck in the wilderness and about to die and that's all you have), oftentimes it isn't necessary if we are approaching the issue of communion with the reverence it deserves. If you want to have communion on a camping trip (for example), it doesn't take that much more effort to plan ahead and take the necessary materials.

Is it more work and does it take more time for our church (which I'm not saying is doing it necessarily the "right way") to have loaves of bread and have people come forward? Yes, but they make the small sacrifice to show reverence for the event.

Actually, I initially jumped on the "EWWWW..." bandwagon :-), till one of my colleagues at church said "yeah, actually we used those at my church in Toronto during the SARS epidemic a few years ago."

Seems reasonable to me. After all, Christ is about your heart... the most elaborate communion service is irrelevant if you do not enjoy peace with Him, yes?

Maybe they sell a special six-pack for the Brady Bunch kids.

Since Broadman is a Baptist company, I wonder if they also sell baptisimals that are like a port-a-potty. Perhaps they call it a dunk-a-sinner.

Actually, it's not just your heart that matters. After all, if your genitals are in the wrong place, it doesn't really matter if your heart is in the right place. We are not Manicheans, after all. At least, I'm not one.

Nice Francis, :) Since you've so clearly made the disparity between the evangelical treatment of a communion exercize and what the RC calls Mass [or by Reformed the Lord's Supper] so clear, I think it makes the point that in rejecting Roman doctrine, some have gone away too far. The historic church has guarded the table, followed a specific ritual, and had a duly ordained/called man of God administer the sacrament. This idea of taking communion at a camping trip really speaks of the low estate that the modern day Christian has held the sacrament first administered by Jesus as described in the 3 synoptic gospels.

I believe that Amy said it very well when she said "Yes, it's our hearts that matter, but the way we treat something reflects the way our hearts think about that thing, it affects the way we'll think about that thing over time, and it also affects the message you give to the world about your value of that thing."

The historic church has held that this is an intimate time between our Lord and His Church and that it's like bread and water to our souls that are hungry and thirsty. It is the vines connection to the root. To partake in an unworthy fashion is problematic and that this is a real encounter with God and not some memorial service. This doesn't sound like something that ought to be done on the fly without proper preparation, reverence, and a context that speaks of adoration and respectful fear that a penitent sinner would display to his Savior. I hope all who are following along and reading this blog entry search out how and why communion has been treated and see if the spirit in you confirms that such a time deserves utmost attention on our part.

Brad

BTW The previous post is by a different Brad from the Brad of the 7th post of this blog entry. I just dont want to step on someones toes, so I'll try to remember to enter Brad B from now on so it isn't confusing if there are apparent contrary statements.

Brad B

I think the "heart is in the right place" is comes from the biblical perspective of God looking at the heart of man, not what is on the outside.

I think Francis makes a good point with his genital argument, but the question still seems to be: where is the line between what is reverent and what is irreverent? Is it actual wine? Grape juice in little plastic cups? It seems that this new package is not that much different from what most prtestant churches use.

Most of the concerns here seem to about how this company is marketing this product. I hope that isn't confused with the actual product, which doesn't seem to be much different from what many churches already use.

I want to get more precise with a few things.
The Scripture that forms the basis of the discussion is 1 Cor. 11:27, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord." (ESV) So what constitutes an "unworthy manner"?

Paul's primary concern in the letter seemed to be that the Corinthians treated the Sacrament like a normal meal - perhaps breakfast. Paul focused exclusively on the meaning of the Sacrament and the Corinthians' behaviors, without ever mentioning the inner heart attitude that he discusses in many other writings.

So what about the form of the bread and wine itself? We would follow Paul's precedent here by evaluating whether anything about the Remembrance Cup carries a connotation that misses the point of the Sacrament, or fails to honor the meaning and worth of the event it signifies - the Crucifixion.

If we look at the Remembrance Cup by itself, abstracted from any cultural context, it might seem like just another "container." However, nothing exists in isolation; the kind of disposable plastic container it is using to house the bread and juice are instantly familiar as containers used to distribute snack food items. Now, the concern should be more apparent - that the Cup forms an association between the body and blood of our Lord Jesus and the most trivial, cheap, and insubstantial food in our society.

Does this obscure the significance of the Sacrament? Well, doesn't this seem to equate the Bread of Life with junk food? That is the line which seems to have been crossed here, which I believe is the same line the Corinthians crossed in Paul's day - treating the bread and wine as something less than sacramental. Even if the heart of the saint is "right with God" through sincere faith, the form of the Sacrament is not. Therefore it does not measure up.

Thomas and others who think that the heart is all that matters, what do youse guys make of this scripture?
"Rom 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for {their} salvation.
Rom 10:2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
Rom 10:3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God."

A zeal for God which would easily fit the model of someone who is thinking his heart is right with God is not enough.

Brad B

One more thought.

The question is, "Are the Remembrance Cups an appropriate way to distribute the Sacrament?"

Examining our hearts, the most deceitfully wicked source we might consult (Jer. 17:9), would tell us nothing whatever about the actual Cups. Any answer must come objectively.

Yes Sage S, another good point about the heart. It's like Aarons sons might've thought: hey this strange fire seems cool, it warms my heart, lets take it into the the presence of God!

Bad move guys, not following the ordinances, and treating them in an unholy manner.
Brad B

Brad (and others),

I didn't want my argument to sound as if it is only the heart that matters (which Paul does direct in having the Corinthians examine theirs), but what is so different about this form of the Sacrament from what most Protestant churches use (i.e. wafers and juice)? The cup is almost the same, the wafer is identical. It seemsthe biggest diffference is the plastic lid containing the wafer.

So my beef here is not to champion the heart as the indicator, but why does this very similar way of distributing the Sacrament seem to offend?

I am not seeing how these news cups are somehow unholy, and the almost identical juice and wafer served from gold plated tins are somehow more holy. If your argument is against both of these then we are not disagreeing.

Hi Thomas thanks for the clarity. I guess I appreciate the opportunity to be clear also. My responses to the posts here on the topic are more related to the reverence and the actual performance of the sacrament. I do not think that the wine/grape juice and wafer and what constitutes the ingredients of each is as important as being faithful to follow the model given. The communion is the NT or new covenant version of Passover. Jesus instituted it on Passover as recorded on Luke 22:20 "And in the same way {He took} the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."

Part of what I think ought to be done which follows the model from the first Supper would be that the bread and wine be blessed as a whole before it's distributed and the whole process be overseen and presided over by one who's called and qualified to discern the correct way, the reverent way, the holy way that it is performed. So, I dont really have a lot to say about the cup/wafer pack although it speaks of a short cut, but that the attitude that gives in to a short cut on such an important opportunity to have the Lords Supper. This is having Jesus at the table. Would you serve Him one of these were He there bodily? Would anyone who responded favorably to these want to show such lack of care as to not prepare the elements?

Guess what, He is present.


Brad B

"Yes, I'll have a cup of coffee- two creams, one sugar, and two Jesus bloods. And could I get a few pieces of host for dunking?"

Brad,

Again thanks for the clarity. I think that you have made your distinction. Since we do not seem to be disagreeing about what I have offered (traditional protestant practice vs. the rememberance cup), I will leave that for someone else to respond to.

I do feel that being a part of the protestant church, I haven't really had many meaningful communion celebrations. Not to say that I would have elsewhere, or that it is the church's fault is not my point. It may be that I am missing something from the practice.

It seems that some type of meal or fellowship gathering where the focus is this may be something that was practiced by the early church and we have since lost.

Guys, I know everyone's covered this topic pretty well, but why does it seem that modern evangelicals seem to ignore these verses in 1 Cor 11:

"28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep."

Do you see that the Apostle Paul indicates that people abusing Communion were getting sick and dying?

Doesn't sound very symbolic to me. Sounds pretty real, in every sense of the term.

Hi Thomas,

The difference between the Cup and the standard plastic cup used in Protestant churches seems pretty clear to me. It would be hard to see the Cup and not immediately think of lunchables, airplane food, cheeze-and-cracker snacks, etc.

I find it problematic to draw a strong connection between the body and blood of Christ and pop-culture snack food. A simple plastic cup just looks cheap and disposable without any clear cultural connections that devalue the Sacrament.

This packaging makes it far too easy to devalue the elements, the death of Christ, and the Lord Himself, all of which are the intended purpose of the Sacrament.

For me, this topic has spurred me to further study the details of why and how to observe and rightly participate in this sacrament. I think for an easy read, Piper does a good job with this in a thorough but easy to follow format. See it here if you are interested: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1997/1020_The_Lords_Supper_as_Worship/

Brad B

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