1. In the Lord’s Supper Jesus prescribed a sensual act of worship. It is fully tactile and engages all the senses. We see the elements, hold and tear the bread, waft the wine, taste the bitter sweetness of fermented grapes and the comforting softness of bread, and hear the story of God’s intimate celebration of his vicarious atonement told one more time…or at least that was the intention.
2. If it is true that we are supposed to frequently remember the atonement through the engagement of our senses, then it would seem to follow that the beauty in each category would be of value.
3. The evangelical reductionism of this practice betrays a deep and insidious Gnosticism. It is pretty obvious from the plastic thimble of Welches and the sub-chicklet-sized-carb-pellet, that we do not believe the quality of the experience has any importance.
5. The standard pragmatic argument against a substantial sacrament is cost. This emerges from a misunderstanding of the OT tithe. Every sermon I have ever heard about tithing has been based on OT texts. So churches raise money based on a First Testament mandate of 10% giving but tend to ignore the OT mandate of how the money is to be spent. Check out the law for spending the tithe:
“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” Deuteronomy 14: 22-29
It seems the tithe is supposed to be used for three things. (1) The support of full time religious staff (and presumably property). (2) The poor and powerless. (3) Food for religious parties for the purpose of remembrance. Americans (including me) have all sorts of unhealthy eating habits. Church people are arguably worse. But I think some of this is because of the dissociation of the spiritual and the physical. Eating is a physical thing, not a spiritual thing. Well, not to the Hebrews. And not to us. Church budgets should be structured to afford quality bread and wine (preferably as part of a larger joint meal as celebrated on the Sabbath by the early church) for a weekly celebration of the sacrament.
7. But by celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly, you are never far from rehearsing the gospel. The vicarious substitutionary atonement is the central insight into humanness that Christianity claims to offer. Regularly rehearsing the unilateral rescue of God through God’s the annihilation of God ‘for us’ produces all of the things that Christianity is about: humility, repentance, worship, kindness, joy, and grateful service in the pursuit of justice, faith and beauty. At the heart of Keller/Driscoll/Chandler movement is the idea that unless the gospel is for Christians too all we have is a dry religion.
8. A thought from my brother, Nic: “The sacraments are not something special to let us know about something special they are something special to help us remember the sacredness of the ordinary…You need to come up to the front and take the little ridiculously processed stale piece of bread and dip it in the wine that isn’t wine and eat it and remember that God became a human being and was murdered to infuse your real life, every breath with sacredness…Nothing that you do in you life is really ordinary.”
But the protestant reaction leaves the proverbial baby dazed, forgotten, in its puddle of thin suds, the bath water already watering the roots of the back lawn grasses. We have reduced the sacrament to a materialist transaction. I eat tiny ‘cracker’, it makes me remember. The medieval right was overspecified, but at least it was supernatural. Protestants need to recover some sense of the spiritual mystery of the sacrament.
11. Luther would agree. The Reformation occurred simultaneously in several cities. After it was clear that they were going to form a new church Luther and his Swiss counterpart Ulrich Zwingli met to try to unify their movement. They discussed 12 points. They agreed on 11. In the end, Luther could not join Zwingli because the latter insisted that the sacrament was just a symbol. Luther refused to unite the movement over his conviction that in some mystical way, Jesus is uniquely present in the meal.
12. Finally a thought from Darrell Bock: “It is perhaps a great tragedy in the church that this meal often gets relegated to a minor role in the church’s worship. Many observances of the Lord’s table are relegated to a quick addition to the service, observed once a quarter or even less. This supper was never designed to be a ‘tacked on’ element of worship.”
But why do we tack it on. Because in its Gnostic, materialist forms, it is virtually without value. So we do it by force of will…by rote obedience…when the pastor would rather have and extra 10 minutes to preach…and the musicians would rather have an extra 10 minutes to sing…and the people would rather spend the 10 minutes almost any other way. But in its sensual, mystical, ceremonial form, the meal could be a centerpiece, even of evangelical worship.
This post was prepared while listening to: The Fair Pandora Station
 The fact that we have come to see ‘sensual’ as synonymous with sexual is unfortunate, but kind of illustrates the point here. Sex also engages all the senses, and is in no way boring.
 I have, sometimes, playfully called it ‘taste worship,’ but that actually short changes its sensual value.
 Here I am invoking the docetic nature of Gnosticism…the belief that the physical world is evil or, at least, doesn’t matter…not the weirder demiurge stuff. (But on a side note, wouldn’t ‘the demiurge’ be a great comic book or Buffy villain.)
 I am not making a specific critique of my church here. Every evangelical church I have ever been to (with the exception of my grandparent’s church where they passed a basket of rolls once when I visited – I was 7) uses the same ridiculous pellets (or oyster crackers).
 Actually, I did not want a building for a while. Most of the midtown restaurants do not open until noon and I was hoping we could rent one on Sunday mornings. I think there is value to utilizing ‘secular’ space when trying to reach a post-Christian community (an idea which should be its own post). And they would have had bread ovens we could have rented as part of the package.
 Actually, the reason given for using grape juice instead of wine is that we do not want to cause recovering alcoholics ‘to stumble.’ This strikes me as smokescreen. I think it is our legalistic rejection of alcohol as having value…which is also a byproduct of implicit Gnosticism.
 Incidentally, I embrace this mandate and think it is appropriate for Christians.
 The proportion question is more difficult and applying the law from a theocracy (where it was also tax) to self governing corporations of worship and mission within a secular state is, problematic, at best. But there are principals here that are binding.
 Amanda and I often joke that the types of food that frequent church potlucks are designed to ‘speed God’s people to glory.’
 In the words of the ‘first supper’
 In my opinion, the Kings and the Chronicles are the most boring books of the Bible. Give me the blood and holiness of Leviticus over them any day.
 From an excellent recent sermon called ‘Closing the Distance – A Few Thoughts on Getting Closer to God’ – seriously, he has got to be one of the best preachers of our generation.
 If it seems weird that the evangelical celebration of communion would suffer both from Gnosticisim (with its belief that the material is evil and should be overcome or, at least ignored) and materialism (the belief that matter is all that matters), well I think so to. This strange paradox seems like a symptom of our almost comical dysfunction on this.
 The apostolic fathers are those who wrote within a couple hundred years of the scriptures. There are only about a dozen orthodox authors who’s writing survive from this period. They do not bear the authority of scripture, but I weigh their testimony pretty heavily as they were the closest to the events and several of the authors were friends of apostles. A couple of these writings were actually included in early cannon lists.
 Justin actually suggests that it be brought to the houses of those too sick to attend the worship gathering.
 Incidentally, it also happened within Catholicism. Devout Catholics of this era went about the business of getting rid of the gross abuses of the medieval church. I actually suspect that if I had been alive then, that I would have joined Erasmus, Ignatius and Xavier and their in house quest for reform.
 If you look for images of Zwingli on Google image a surprising number of dogs come up. This confused me for a moment, but I am almost certain how it went down.
Nerd Husband: “I am so happy we are going to have a baby, honey. If it is a boy I want to name it Zwingli.”
Sane Wife: “That’s nice honey, but we need to name the puppy now, let’s use this very special name immediately.”
 To this day, Lutheran churches hold to a middle position called ‘consubstantiation.’ It is kind of obtuse, but I think it boils down to a special, mystical, real presence.
 The NIV Application Commentary on Luke