Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Last Sopper - Reinventing Christianity

This is for all you tradition despising, sandal wearing, emergent church conversationalists and seeker sensitive itch-scratchers. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how you can save time during that thing called the communion service and market it in a more enjoyable way for the unchurched masses.

I have been examining the serving utensils (you know, those gaudy, liturgical trays) for possible ways to alter them so that you could pass juice and bread simultaneously in the same tray.

One suggested solution was to just set a bowl of wafers in the center area of the juice tray so that both elements could be passed at the same time. But on second thought, I'm not sure that would work for two reasons. First, the bowls would likely sit too high to allow the trays to stack. Second, once people started removing the juice cups from outer perimeters, there would be no way to prevent the bread bowl from sliding around on the surface of the tray unless they were glued in place. One possible solution would be to cut a circle out of the center to cradle the bowl.

However, each of those solutions would necessitate doing irreparable damage to the serving implements. Some of those stiff old traditional deaconesses would probably come unglued if you desecrated their sacred, over-priced, imitation silver trays.

And then, there are the obvious, inevitable difficulties for many people, especially the very young and very old or the just plain clumsy or uncoordinated folks, who would have a hard time juggling two items at one time and still pass the tray without spilling something in their laps.

The whole problem was really starting to frustrate me until I was out last week having lunch in my favorite Mexican restaurant. While I was sitting there munching on chips dipped in salsa, the answer suddenly came to me in a vision.

The solution is DIP!

You could pass the communion crackers in a chip and dip server with grape juice in the dip bowl. As people take their crackers, they would simply dip them into the juice. That would really simplify the whole process and the ceremony would be abreviated as everyone receives and consumes both elements at once.

Now, I know that some might initially balk at this idea but look, I think you might be able to convince your people that there is some scriptural precedence and justification for it.

Historically, the Hebrews in Bible times were not nearly as sophisticated as we are and they did not use utensils to eat their meals. Instead, they used the sop which was a piece of bread used to dip in the soup or broth which sat in the center of the table (Do you see how symbolically appropriate this is? The dip bowl is in the center of the tray).

In the book of Ruth (2:14) there is an interesting anecdotal precedent for this kind of form in our celebration of the Passover meal. Boaz extended an invitation to Ruth to, “at mealtime, come thou hither and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.”

Furthermore, dipping the sop was an historic fact at the last supper. According to John, Jesus, himself, dipped the sop and gave it to Judas (John 13:26). And if, perchance, some may be uneasy with the association of Judas in your communion service, it might be reassuring to remind them that, according to recent discoveries reported on the Discovery Channel, Judas was really Jesus’ closest confidant and His most obedient servant. In other words, he has had an undeserved bad rap for a long time but recently he has been exonerated by the Pope and has a special place in Heaven.

So, I’m sure you will agree, with historic scriptural precedence, with the example of Jesus, and with the approval of the Pope, you could proceed confidently with a revolutionary new streamlined version of a boring, traditional sacrament that should be acceptable to and easily adaptable by a modern, fast-paced, multi-tasking generation.

And, one more thing - you could change the name of your service to “The Ordinance of Sop-Dip,” or “The Last Sopper.”

I trust you will embrace these suggestions and make them part of your lovefests. I am starting to work on a new and more enjoyable way to do baptisms. I’ll keep you informed about how it’s going.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So what about a way to distribute this sopper that would save time and man power? Seems like at our church they sometimes need last minute help as not enough of the prescribed deacons are in attendance for the needed service of distributing the trays. Maybe everyone could just file to the front of the church during the song time. That might save time and you would only need a couple of people/pastor types to serve. Just sing the normal four songs in a row and your done.

Matt said...

Ralph,
Mad is the first word that comes to mind.....your post made me "sopping" mad....well not really but you are to late to lay claim to this "fine" idea. I have been to a church that did almost the exact same thing. a roll of bread and a cup of wine, so the "seekers" could rip off a chunk and dip it into the glass. What a sad state of affairs when the "church" handles communion (and everything else) spuriosly.

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