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  • Julie Canlis

Why Communion Every Week? Plus Pentecost and More!

Are You Penitential or Eucharistic? (or “Why Do We Take Communion Every Week?”)

Art: Arcabas (Emmaus Road)

Dear Trinity, If you are a newcomer to communion being a weekly thing, and wondering why, I'd love to attach (and also try to synthesize if you don't have time for articles) this wonderful piece called"Reclaiming Eucharistic Piety." Basically, the author says that as people primarily shaped in the Evangelical-American scene, due to history and geography, we tend toward a "penitential piety." I can give you some firsthand evidence for this (myself) as I found myself only feeling "close" to the Lord in college primarily if I was confessing something, or oriented toward my depravity. Now, although my husband and children might wish I did that a bit more now (ha ha), I began to realize that this was unhealthy ... my good Lord did not require this as my primary identity before him. In fact, even John Calvin himself notes that this is not how we need to come into the presence of God, or feel comfortable with him. In fact, it violates the spirit of the covenant. (Though as a Calvin scholar, I do believe Calvin will have a lot to answer for in the next life ...) The bottom line is: due to some very powerful training from youth groups and college groups, I felt supremely UNcomfortable in celebrating my salvation (without also having to say something about my worthlessness), the Lord's goodness (without having to mention my innate badness), etc. This is called "penitential piety" and while parts of it are theologically sound, the balance of it is theologically unsound and can lead to all kinds of problems down the road. I am a perfect case in point! To be in a perpetual cycle of sin-forgiveness-sin-forgiveness is not a full reflection of the gospel. As the article says (tracing this through the Middle Ages into the Reformation) "Instead, the coordinate principles of law and gospel - sin and forgiveness - came to constitute the two poles of Christian experience between which the believer's self-consciousness constantly vacillates ... meditation on guilt and sinfulness becomes the basic and permanent condition for communion with God." It is not false. But it is a reduction of the gospel. Beware of any gospel reductionism! (Secret: It is "in the air" wherever there is a tendency to speak so much of God's glory, as if it were in competition with humans. It is characterized by a fairly black-and-white, all-or-nothing mentality in which humans are in competition with God's glory, rather - as John shows us - humans are intended for God's glory and are not in competition with God's glory. In fact, God's glory can be displayed precisely in us.) Back to Eucharistic Piety ... the article shows how early evangelicalism was marked not so much by this strong (Calvinistic) penitential piety (God bless Calvin!) but by Eucharistic Piety (e.g. John Wesley). Rather than a focus on how little we deserve God (and how we must not "eat and drink unto damnation" 1 Cor 11:29), eucharistic piety focuses on God's self-gift of himself - and our weekly, daily, hourly need of him. Taking the eucharist weekly is not an innovation, but returning to our evangelical roots ... just as John Wesley was attempting to return to the early church. Weekly communion simply underscored the reality of (and our constant need to return to) union with Christ. I first experienced weekly communion in a church I will never forget. Matt and I in our first year of marriage were invited to visit a church in Vancouver BC called "Joy Fellowship" which consisted of a congregation of people primarily with Downs' Syndrome (and other persons with developmental disabilities). Although we were a bit uncomfortable, those in the congregation were not! - "JOY" was definitely the overwhelming experience of being in this congregation. Communion was the high point of the service, in which there was heart-felt singing, lots of wandering up and down the aisles, and absolutely joyful reverence when they received communion. Would I know if they "understood" what was happening theologically? And for that matter, did I? Were their emotions perhaps more appropriate than my hyper-analytical mind? I think of how NT Wright said, "Jesus did not leave us a book. He left us a meal." Whether you print off this article or not, think about coming to communion as your weekly confession of your deepest desire for God, and of his absolute commitment to you. So anxious was he to express this, that he set up a beyond-verbal, embodied way for us to know his love for us, that even children and infirm could experience and understand - perhaps more profoundly than those of us trying to parse out what is happening up there. As Augustine said holding up the bread (and we sometimes say in our liturgy), "Behold what you are" - in other words, YOU are the body of Christ, just as this bread is! Miracle of miracles! And he finished the saying off with "Become what you receive..." - in other words, keep being transformed into Christ, just as this bread is. This is the mystery of the church. Julie


Pentecost is Coming!

Join us for a Feast! Sunday, May 28, just after 11am at Methow Park

Come celebrate Pentecost (the birthday of the church) after the second service with a feast!

Please RSVP below so that we can get the right numbers for food…

We're having a BBQ complete with:

  • Burgers (plus veggie burgers for all you lovely vegetarians)

  • Chips

  • Veggies

  • Ice Cream Bars

  • Drinks

No need to bring anything... just bring yourselves!

Location: Methow Park Date: Sunday, May 28th Time: 11am


Ladies Night In!

Hosted by Find Your People Fellowship Monday May 22 @ 6:30pm Fireside Room, Trinity Church

Find Your People Fellowship is a group of Trinity ladies of all ages who have been studying biblical friendship. We are more convinced than ever that God designed us to live in deep community and friendship with other women.

We'd like to invite all Trinity ladies (and friends) to join in what we've been up to!

You are cordially invited to a casual evening of connection.

Introverts, we will not put you on the spot! Think lowkey conversation with wine, or nonalcoholic beverage. Extroverts, we've got you covered, too :)

RSVP to Kelly Silva @ (509) 423-1735

PS - Little ones in tow are just fine, although no babysitting is available.


Coming Up

  • "I WONDER..." NIGHTS Next week's meeting (May 23rd) is postponed

  • NEWCOMERS DINNER (KID FRIENDLY!) Saturday, May 20 @5pm RSVP Here - Room for One More Couple/Family!

  • PENTECOST FEAST Sunday, May 28 RSVP Here

  • CONFIRMATION WITH BISHOP KEN Sunday, June 11th @ 6pm


Bulletin Board

If you have a personal need (like a job, or housing, etc.), an event you’d like to promote, or something you’d like our church body to be aware of, you can email carson@trinitywenatchee.orgfor us to review before posting.


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