Ping Revelation

Over the years my position on what I consider some major life issues has changed. This is one of those issues:

Born into an Evangelical/Baptist home I soon came to understand that communion, as it is called in the Bible Church, is to be celebrated about once a month. I was told that the church didn’t want to wear out its meaning by having the Lord’s Supper every week.  Later, I would understand this to mean that the Free Churches wanted to be different from Catholic churches.

As a student at the Moody Bible Institute, my Personal Evangelism teacher, Mr. Winslett, taught us that Catholicism is a cult much like Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh Day Adventism and even demonism. I remember the teacher telling us that Mary, iconic Mary, was an idol. So, like many of my Free Church brethren, I became rather smug when it came to Catholics. They were beneath our Free Church ways. Besides, the Catholic Church had too much going on and the Free Church, striped of any vestige of symbol and ceremony was “Free” (and sterile) of all the trappings of Roman rigamarole. There is, of course, more history to the reformation than what I am describing here. One can read Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses for more information. But, indulge me, please, (and not as Johann Tetzel would) for the moment.

At the Bible Church I had attended you could come and get your spiritual fodder for the week. A sermon or two and a banquet here and there would deem to hold you over. Forget liturgy, we were free to stand up for a hymn, sit down for the announcements, listen to the organ during offering, stand up again for another pre-sermon hymn, sit down for the sermon and then walk the aisle – to the pulpit or out the door. Voilà, church. And, for me, church for fifty years. Throw in the opposing Continental and Analytic worldviews in modern thinking and I became sans joie d’vivre. My Sola fide needed not only to hear the Word of God, it needed to intuit God’s presence with me. And, this wasn’t happening for me at this church despite all of the contemporary emotive songs invoking God’s presence.

After this half-century of spiritual famine I came to realize that this poor diet – the Diet of Words – wasn’t sufficient for my life. And, the abundantly stocked shelves of Abundant Life Christian self-help books were of no help to me. I needed substance. Substance. Substance and Symbol.

At age fifty I began attending an Anglican church. Now, I regularly eat the Real Food and Drink of Life – the Eucharist. And, hearing the spoken Word of God, praying from The Book of Common Prayer, reciting the Nicene Creed, seeing the symbol of the cross and participating in the liturgy which points to the Great Feast of Thanksgiving (and not the sermon), my spirit has revived. I meet the Lord at this Well of Sychar where deep springs of Living Water come to the surface.

Phyllis Melanchthon (aka, Sally  Paradise)

“When Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being “in Christ” or of Christ being “in them” this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them: that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts –that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body. And perhaps that explains one or two things. It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by the bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion…There is no good in trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.” C. S. Lewis