Sacraments and Stories
As you already know if you’ve been around the past few weeks, we’re spending Sunday mornings leading up to Advent discussing the various practices that act as “foundations” for our fellowship (similar to the “sacraments” in Roman Catholicism or the “mysteries” in Eastern Orthodoxy). Since New Covenant Fellowship is a community that holds a variety of beliefs and allows for diverse expressions of faith, this handful of practices function as sort of the “glue” for our fellowship, binding us together in mysterious but meaningful ways. These practices have also remained fairly consistent throughout the two millennia of church history prior to New Covenant’s existence, so they serve an additional purpose: tying our NCF story into the much broader story about the people of Christ.
So far in this teaching series, we’ve discussed Baptism (I shared some of my personal experiences with that), and Communion. Last week, several folks got up and shared their own perspectives on and experiences with our weekly, “open-table” practice of Communion at NCF. In addition, I received a testimony via email that I want to share with you all:
In the 70s I went to churches that did communion maybe once a quarter. I really didn’t get it. I knew it was a symbol but it just felt like going through the motions to me. So it felt really awkward and I didn’t particularly like it.
In the 80s I went to a church that did communion every Sunday and I began to get it. That’s when I began to really appreciate and value communion. But in that church the emphasis was on self-examination. That was also a time in my life where I was depressed a lot. Combining the two, I would sometimes refrain from taking communion, because I didn’t feel worthy of it.
Then I came to NCF in 1990. The emphasis for communion was invitation. No longer did I need to feel worthy or measure up (like who of us really does anyway!) Hearing that Jesus wanted me to come if I wanted to come was very freeing.
I’m glad NCF is an every Sunday communion church.
I want to use this post as an open invitation to anyone interested in sharing a particular experience with or perspective on the various practices that we will be discussing in the coming weeks. I encourage you to share from the front on a Sunday morning, to send me an email, or to share within your small groups. More informally, I’ve heard stories from people who re-discovered an aspect of a tradition in which they grew up, who have been challenged by being confronted with an unfamiliar practice, or who more generally have experienced God through regular participation in these practices. Let’s face it—for many of us, these practices can carry baggage. I believe we can help free one another from those burdens and also help these practices become increasingly meaningful as we see their many facets and features through the eyes of others.
Please take some to time to consider how one or more of the following have been meaningful to you in some way: Giving (whether of time, talents, or resources), Worship, Reconciliation (confession and/or forgiveness), Service, Marriage and/or Singleness, Prayer, Reading Scripture, and Liturgy (the kind of things we do a little more of around Advent). Feel free to comment here, contact me directly, or just hop up on a Sunday morning and share! I’m looking forward to growing closer together as a congregation and closer to God through this sharing.