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Praxis And Ritual In Progressive Christianity


cunninglily
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When I was a young Christian I had a very pronounced attraction to monasticism and was fascinated by the techniques and methods Christians from different traditions (I was raised Baptist ) employed in "practicing the Prescence of God" or in "dying to self" or in seeking intimacy with God. I experimented with Brother Lawrences' "I watch God watching me", and the Jesus Prayer of the Hesychasts; I prayed in tongues (and still do), and was always particularly drawn to what I grew up calling "The Lords Supper".

 

Today I am deeply drawn to re-visioning the role of ritual (which is a way of actively seeking the "thin places") and other methods and techniques created and forged in the fires of sacrifice and devotion by our Ancestors in their longing for transformation and intimacy with God.

 

Do any of you feel a need for a Christian practice? and by practice I mean time consistently set aside for remembrance, or prayer, or meditation, or any number of means by which you enter sacred space and seek intimacy with God? Do any of you combine traditional Christian methods with non-traditional ones? or practice traditional observances in non-traditional ways?

 

I look forward to hearing from all of you...

 

lily

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I like Centering Prayer (20-40mins/day). I also engage in fasting; lectio divina; gardening; running; and playing with my dog and my child as part of my spiritual disciplines. When I have time, I play the trumpet as part of my prayer life.

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Well, here's three for centering prayer! I do centering prayer daily, plus I'm in a once-a-week group that meets for centering prayer and lectio divina.

 

From time to time I'll have periods in which I go to daily mass. On weekdays the early masses are a half-hour long and are a wonderful way to begin the day. Other practices that I may take on from time to time include novenas, nine-day periods of prayer focused on the holy spirit or a particular saint, as well as rosaries and divine mercy chaplets. Now that I have done centering prayer for a while I do not pray the rosary as much as I did in times past, but when I do pray the rosary (especially with a group) it seems I pray it at a deeper level -- possibly as a result of centering prayer.

 

Daily walks and conversation with my husband and my friends are also a part of my practice of prayer in everyday life.

 

Once a year, I try to attend an extended silent retreat--6 to 10 days. This summer I'll be attending an 8-day centering prayer retreat in Los Angeles, sponsored by Contemplative Outreach.

 

Peace,

curlytop

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Well, here's three for centering prayer! I do centering prayer daily, plus I'm in a once-a-week group that meets for centering prayer and lectio divina.

 

 

I have read books on Centering Prayer but it has been long ago....would one of you...or all three :) describe the practice? And I know that lectio divina translates roughly into divine law...but I have not the slightest idea how one might practice it as a method or technique. Would you guys fill us in?

 

Are all three of you from Catholic backgrounds? I ask because as a Protestant I had to go to Catholic literature to find info on methods and ritual...Protestantism has very little to offer there.

 

My own practice is a mixed bag and still experimental. I still pray in tongues as there is no easier way that I've found to still the mind and to become very quiet and still. I suppose this works in much the same way as does chanting or repetitious prayer. I drum. I also do communion...a wooden bowl, a crust of bread, a goblet of wine, ideally once a week. I also feel that study is a prayer and an intimacy with God...I've been filled with the "joy of the Lord" many times in study...and developing a sense of myself as a creature of Nature, which to my mind is the Body of Christ, is important to me.

 

I hope that we'll have good discussions on these matters as I think they are very important. Part of what is unsatisfying for me within organized religion is the lack of vitality and freshness in the "spiritual" aspects of faith. I guess you could say that I'm searching for a new Christian aesthetic.

 

talk soon

 

lily

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Hi there Lily --

 

I myself am Catholic but centering prayer is an ecumenical movement. It's a renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition that got started in the 1980s with the Trappists Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington, and William Meninger. I live in the San Diego area, where we have about 37 centering prayer groups that meet at various Episcopalian, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Catholic churches. Also, I was at an interfaith conference recently that had Thomas Keating as one of the teachers, and discovered that there are Jews who practice centering prayer also.

 

Here are the four guidelines of Centering Prayer:

 

1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within. (One or two syllable words, such as love, peace, joy, one, amen, let go, I am, etc. The meaning of the word is not as important as your use of it to consent to God's presence).

 

2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.

 

3. When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word ("thoughts" is am umbrella term for anything that arises in your consciousness: memories, insights, wanderings of the imagination, words of prayer, physical sensations, etc. The idea is not to stop or censor the thoughts, but to gently let them go.)

 

4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

 

--Ideally, this is practiced for 20 minutes twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening.

 

For more information go to www.contemplativeoutreach.org or

www.centeringprayer.com, the websites for Contemplative Outreach. There you could also find out if there are any centering prayer groups or upcoming workshops in your area.

 

Lectio Divina roughly translates as "Holy Reading." There are many ways to practice it, but here is one 4-step structured method, for use by individuals or groups:

 

1. Start with "lectio" (reading):

--Read a short passage of scripture

--Listen to God's word

--After reading, allow 1-2 minutes of quite time.

 

2. Proceed to "meditatio" (meditation)

--Read the scripture again

--Let Jesus speak to you

--Reflect on the message

--Ask: "Lord, what do you want me to learn from this passage today?"

--Then allow 2-3 minutes of quiet time

 

3. "Oratio" (prayer)

--Read the scripture a third time

--Let your heart speak to God

--Trust God enough to become emotionally involved, engage in

spontaneous prayer

--Then allow another 2-3 minutes, or more, of quiet time.

 

4. "Contemplatio" (contemplation)

--Read the scripture a final time.

--Sit quietly and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart in and through

the silence

--allow perhaps 5 minutes of quiet time.

 

Here's a bit of a blurb about Contemplative Outreach, the organization that teaches centering prayer:

 

"Contemplative Outreach is a spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in everyday life through the practice of centering prayer. The contemplative dimension of the Gospel manifests itself in an ever-deepening union with the living Christ and the practical caring for others that flows from that relationship. . .

We identify with the Christian contemplative heritage. While we are formed by our respective denominations, we are united in our common search for God and the experience of the living Christ through centering prayer. We affirm our solidarity with the contemplative diminsion of other religions and sacred traditions, with the needs and rights of the whole human family, and with all creation."

 

Warm regards,

 

curlytop

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I also enjoy contemplative prayer, meditation, nature, playing with dogs and kids and husband.

 

I appreciate the guidelines on lectio divino - I've been thinking of trying that... now I have no excuse :)

 

I'd love to know more about praying in tongues. Do you see it as a gift or something you do purposefully? Any starting points would be appreciated!

 

Peace

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Has anyone ever heard of using a rosary (ala Catholics) but not using the Catholic prayers?? I read about this somewhere (I think local paper). I think it would be considered a form of contemplative prayer, as I don't think the exact words matter as much, as the getting to the "thin place".

 

 

Reference to it here:

 

http://www.ecumenicalrosary.org/

 

BTW, I wasn't all that impressed in the "what to pray" section. I would not for example say the Nicene creed.

 

--des

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Here's an alternative to the Nicene Creed, for anybody who may be interested. It's by Joan Chittister, from her book "In Search of Belief." (I'm excerpting, the entire creed is longer than what I'm typing here)

 

I believe in one God

who made us all

and whose divinity infuses all of life

with the sacred.

 

I believe in the multiple revelations

of that God

alive in every human heart,

expressed in every culture,

and found in all the wisdoms

of the world.

 

I believe

that Jesus Christ,

the unique son of God,

is the face of God

on earth

in whom we see best

the divine justice,

divine mercy,

and divine compassion

to which we are all called.

 

I believe in the Christ

who is One in being with the Creator

and who shows us the presence of God

in everything that is

and calls out the sacred in ourselves. . . .

 

By the power of the Holy Spirit

he was born of the woman Mary,

pure in soul

and single-hearted--

a sign to the ages

of the exalted place

of womankind

in the divine plan

of human salvation. . .

 

He grew as we grow

through all the stages of life. . .

He showed us the Way,

lived it for us,

suffered from it,

and died because of it

so that we might live

with new heart,

new mind,

and new strength

despite all the death

to which we are daily subjected.

 

For our sake

and for the sake of eternal Truth

he was hounded

harassed

and executed

by those

who were their own gods

and who valued the sacred

in no other.

 

He suffered so that we might realize

that the spirit in us

can never be killed

whatever price we have to pay

for staying true to the mind of God.

 

He died

but did not die

because he lives in us

still. . . .

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the breath of God

on earth,

who keeps the Christ vision present

to souls yet in darkness,

gives life

even to hearts now blind.

Infuses energy

into spirits yet weary, isolated,

searching and confused. . . .

 

I believe in one

holy and universal church.

Bound together by the holiness of creation

and the holiness of hearts forever true.

 

I acknowledge the need

to be freed from the compulsions

of my disordered life

and my need for forgiveness

in face of frailty.

 

I look for life eternal

in ways I cannot dream

and trust

that creation goes on creating

in this world

and in us

forever.

 

Amen.

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Here's an alternative to the Nicene Creed, for anybody who may be interested. It's by Joan Chittister, from her book "In Search of Belief." (I'm excerpting, the entire creed is longer than what I'm typing here)

 

I believe in one God

who made us all

and whose divinity infuses all of life

with the sacred.

 

I believe in the multiple revelations

of that God

alive in every human heart,

expressed in every culture,

and found in all the wisdoms

of the world.

 

I believe

that Jesus Christ,

the unique son of God,

is the face of God

on earth

in whom we see best

the divine justice,

divine mercy,

and divine compassion

to which we are all called.

 

I believe in the Christ

who is One in being with the Creator

and who shows us the presence of God

in everything that is

and calls out the sacred in ourselves. . . .

 

By the power of the Holy Spirit

he was born of the woman Mary,

pure in soul

and single-hearted--

a sign to the ages

of the exalted place

of womankind

in the divine plan

of human salvation. . .

 

He grew as we grow

through all the stages of life. . .

He showed us the Way,

lived it for us,

suffered from it,

and died because of it

so that we might live

with new heart,

new mind,

and new strength

despite all the death

to which we are daily subjected.

 

For our sake

and for the sake of eternal Truth

he was hounded

harassed

and executed

by those

who were their own gods

and who valued the sacred

in no other.

 

He suffered so that we might realize

that the spirit in us

can never be killed

whatever price we have to pay

for staying true to the mind of God.

 

He died

but did not die

because he lives in us

still. . . .

 

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the breath of God

on earth,

who keeps the Christ vision present

to souls yet in darkness,

gives life

even to hearts now blind.

Infuses energy

into spirits yet weary, isolated,

searching and confused. . . .

 

I believe in one

holy and universal church.

Bound together by the holiness of creation

and the holiness of hearts forever true.

 

I acknowledge the need

to be freed from the compulsions

of my disordered life

and my need for forgiveness

in face of frailty.

 

I look for life eternal

in ways I cannot dream

and trust

that creation goes on creating

in this world

and in us

forever.

 

Amen.

Now that's a creed I can get behind! :P It's great that this thread was started. Frankly, there have always been 2 reasons I've never found a "church home:" 1 the "credo-" can't accept most traditionally presented Christian beliefs & format of worship which to me is too external. I'm more of a meditative/contemplative bent- in fact I only hang out @ 2 other forums, 1 dedicated to Christian mysticism & the other buddhist. While both those sites can & do have their doctrinaire squabbles as the nature of Christian mysticism is on contemplative practice & its results & as buddhism likewise emphasizes practice as being as central or more (depending on the branch) than doctrine, I come here used to that more than philosophical debate. I do like to engage in that myself though from time to time. :rolleyes:

 

The hesychasts & the Buddhists, though, would be in agreement that the "passions" or the 3 "poisons" of greed, anger, & delusion, (buddhists mean deluded as to the true essence of who we are), are what impede our growing awareness of God or Buddha Nature. Both of course emphasized meditative techniques as a way of dealing with that to make space within ourselves for greater spiritual awareness. That said, I practice vipassana & zen & occasionally throw in practices that more closely resemble contemplative prayer; even my hybridized meditative forms that take essentially tibetan buddhist fromats but substitute Christianized images in their place. To me it doesn't matter what package a practice originated in, but rather, what will it achieve-of course, all kinds of books out these days re incorporating buddhist meditative techniques into christian practice. Best practice (for me at least) though is to attempt to maintain as much awareness throughout the day as I can so that in those moments when my head & heart have shut down & shut another out, I can catch myself to realize that when I'm doing that I'm not attuning to the "God" frequency. Have a good one, Earl

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Here are the four guidelines of Centering Prayer:

 

 

Lectio Divina roughly translates as "Holy Reading." There are many ways to practice it, but here is one 4-step structured method, for use by individuals or groups:

 

 

Thank you curlytop. Both of these methods of prayer and meditation interest me. I like the idea of studying with God...I think this is something I approach at times even when reading outside the Bible.

 

The Centering Prayer appeals for its simplicity and its gentle approach to stilling the "monkey mind". To begin to respond to Cynthia's curiosity on "speaking in tongues" I believe that it works in much the same way. There is no fighting the random thoughts of the mind at all...just a gentle return to listening to oneself speaking in an unknown tongue, which eventually brings one to a profound inner quiet and a refreshing of the spirit.

 

The prayer language or gift of tongues is something I received with the baptism in the Spirit. It is difficult to describe how it happens. One simply asks in faith and opens ones mouth and begins to speak. I, being of a somewhat skeptical mind, had difficulty at first receiving this gift and eventually did alone in my room (as opposed to in a group which is how it was first introduced and offered to me). As soon as the "language" poured forth from my mouth, I knew that it was not something that I had fabricated. Afterwards, I experienced what some call a "honeymoon" time in God in which I was so filled with joy that people were stopping me in public places to ask what I was on! It also seems that the exercise of this gift opens a door to the other gifts of the Spirit as well....and not to sound too woo woo...it also seems to open one to Spirits that are not benevolent...the veil between the material and spiritual realms become thinner, and one can discern *spirits* operating through people and events in a more heightened way.

 

I've been really impressed by how every single one of you have mentioned daily life and close relationships as a sacrament and a prayer and a conscious practice of intimacy with God. This may be the most important practice of all.

 

Only curlytop specifically mentioned the mass and communion. I'm interested in how you guys think and feel about the sacrament of bread and wine...if you think of it in terms of "transubstantiation" or as a remembrance. I was struck in my forays into paganism by just how old this practice is...it pre-dates Christianity and is central to most pagan traditions. The Celts practice it as the "Adbertos"; the Traditional Craft people practice is as the "Housle" or "Red Meal" and the Wiccans, of course, make the sacrament of bread and wine central to all their rituals. Of course the emphasis is very different within paganism than it is in Christian practice; it is connected to the "agricultural year" and in some cases is a sacrifice of the first fruits of the harvest. I'd like to talk about this some more as we all have time and occasion.

 

I am so blessed to be discussing these things with all of you. There are times when i have such a strong impulse to put away the books and the endless learning and to get quiet enough to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal what is indeed essential. There seems to me to be a simplicity at the heart of Christian tradition that often gets drowned out by the complexities of the times in which we live. There are times when I am tempted to just say, "shut up and trance" (nods to Aerosmith). There is a unifying force in prayer, ritual, and silence that overtakes the wrangling over words and beliefs and doctrines. In the simplicity of these practices we can get beyond those things which divide us. Or so it seems to me.

 

lily

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.

 

I've been really impressed by how every single one of you have mentioned daily life and close relationships as a sacrament and a prayer and a conscious practice of intimacy with God. This may be the most important practice of all.

 

Only curlytop specifically mentioned the mass and communion. I'm interested in how you guys think and feel about the sacrament of bread and wine...if you think of it in terms of "transubstantiation" or as a remembrance. I was struck in my forays into paganism by just how old this practice is...it pre-dates Christianity and is central to most pagan traditions. The Celts practice it as the "Adbertos"; the Traditional Craft people practice is as the "Housle" or "Red Meal" and the Wiccans, of course, make the sacrament of bread and wine central to all their rituals. Of course the emphasis is very different within paganism than it is in Christian practice; it is connected to the "agricultural year" and in some cases is a sacrifice of the first fruits of the harvest. I'd like to talk about this some more as we all have time and occasion.

 

I am so blessed to be discussing these things with all of you. There are times when i have such a strong impulse to put away the books and the endless learning and to get quiet enough to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal what is indeed essential. There seems to me to be a simplicity at the heart of Christian tradition that often gets drowned out by the complexities of the times in which we live.  There are times when I am tempted to just say, "shut up and trance" (nods to Aerosmith). There is a unifying force in prayer, ritual, and silence that overtakes the wrangling over words and beliefs and doctrines. In the simplicity of these practices we can get beyond those things which divide us. Or so it seems to me.

 

lily

 

 

 

I agree - mindfulness/awareness of the divine essence of others (namaste???) is the most earnest spiritual practice I do. As far as communion, 2 thoughts. 1 - when I take communion, I think of it in symbolic terms but I have a deep experience that seems unique to that symbolic act.

2- Do you (anybody) think that Jesus chose bread and wine because they were (as I understand it) very common foods, likely to be eaten at most meals? I wonder if He meant for us to remember Him in even our most banal moments... no pomp nor circumstance... just workaday bread and wine. Perhaps guiding us to mindfulness/prayer without ceasing/keeping your heart right lest you eat and drink judgement on yourself - - - at every meal. Wow - radical. ;)

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My take on the sacrament of the bread and wine is that it is a call to be mindful of the divine in all things. Cynthia, I think you have made an interesting observation, because surely if God can exist in something as "mundane" as the simple foods we eat, then God can be everywhere.

 

I believe that God is always in the bread and wine (and everything else)... the ritual merely serves to bring this to our attention.

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I've kind of wanted an excuse to post this. I can't claim orginality. This is the call to communion from Wellington Avenue UCC, Chicago IL. (The communion itself is done very nicely with the congregation gathered around a table vs passing out the bread and wine or people coming up individually). Anyway here it is:

 

 

 

>We are now invited to share in the greatest celebration ever imagined.

 

We are asked to come as watchers of the word, as participants in the struggle, as revelers in the joy, as members of the most inclusive body.

 

And though this celebration has been planned for generation upon generation, and invitations were sent out well in advance, it is a come-as-you-are celebration.

 

So, come if you are plain or fancy,

joyous or sorrowful,

young or old,

male or female,

whole or in pieces,

confident or questioning,

and whatever your sexual identity may be;

 

but come, as the old Sunday school song says

“Red or yellow, black or white, all are precious in God’s sight.”

 

Come, come to the table where your are more welcome and more at home than anywhere on earth.

 

Come to the table of Christ, for all is prepared for you return home.

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I've kind of wanted an excuse to post this. I can't claim orginality. This is the call to communion from Wellington Avenue UCC,  Chicago IL. (The communion itself is done very nicely with the  congregation gathered around a table vs passing out the bread and wine or people coming up individually). .

 

This is lovely. I love the communion done around a table idea. I read somewhere that it is impossible to share a meal with an enemy. If you think about it, this rings true. So, communion in community can be seen as a ritual of peace, and that ALL may come speaks volumes.

 

Thanks for this des.

 

lily

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Rather than take communion in our large meetings (2 services, about 600 at each one), we take communion in our home fellowship groups. We share a meal and then take communion, pray, etc. This has made communion much more real to me.

 

As an aside, communion is one of the specific times the Bible says we are to "examine ourselves." Jesus said we do it in remembrance of Him, and I think it's interesting that Paul said that when we do it we "proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."

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Rather than take communion in our large meetings (2 services, about 600 at each one), we take communion in our home fellowship groups.  We share a meal and then take communion, pray, etc.  This has made communion much more real to me.

 

As an aside, communion is one of the specific times the Bible says we are to "examine ourselves."  Jesus said we do it in remembrance of Him, and I think it's interesting that Paul said that when we do it we "proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."

 

"proclaim the Lord's death". What does that mean to you darby? It occurs to me that I'm not at all sure what it means. Does it mean to remember His sacrifice? Or to proclaim that not even the fear of death could dissuade Him from His assurance in his Eternal Self in God? In "proclaiming the Lord's death" do we also proclaim His descent into Hell and His resurrection? Do we proclaim a Living Lord? in communion?

 

I'm asking these things because I want to understand what communion means to you. What does it mean to partake of the body and the blood of Christ? Is it to partake in the very substance of Christ? to become One Body with Him?

 

Or is communion more of a sacred meal, a communion or fellowship with Christs' Body? a fellowship between man and God; a mediation point of contact?

 

Or all of these things...and maybe more?

 

I'm encouraged to hear that small groups of people are gathering to do communion. This seems the best way to take the rote out of ritual. Community is something that I am drawn to as much as I often shy from it. Whats the old saying? "You know its Gods Will when you don't want to do it?" B)

 

lily

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Re:communion--It means to me alot of the things you mentioned, but mainly the ushering in of the new covenant--that Jesus was the perfect Lamb. No more sacrifices needed. As He said on the cross, "It is done." I no longer have to keep the law, He has fulfilled the law. His broken body and blood have paid a price I could not, and it was done completely out of grace, not any good work of mine. Now, I do good works because I want to, not to gain favor. Unlike Catholics, it is symbolic to me...I don't believe I am actually eating Christ's body and drinking His blood. But it is very powerful. I think many churches/Christians have gotten out of the habit of communion, and that's too bad...it's one of the two sacrements He left us with.

 

Re:proclaiming His death--I used to focus on the resurrection during communion, but this verse has made me focus, literally, on His death. It's easy to focus on the resurrection, its glory, and all that it means...and sometimes gloss over the cruicifixtion. But my feeling is that He wanted us to know that salvation came at great cost. Whether we believe it was as gruesome as portrayed in The Passion of the Christ, it was certainly painful, bloody, etc. I've come to realize Jesus went through shame (being mocked, spit upon), scourging, humiliation, mocking, and excruciating pain on my behalf. It is very sobering to remember that. It's interesting that when Jesus was teaching on "eating his flesh" and "drinking his blood", the Bible says it was a hard teaching, and many who had been following him did not follow anymore.

 

Re: community. I believe, more than ever, that God doesn't want any "spiritual lone rangers." If you read all the "one anothers" (confess to, love, bear burdens, serve, exhort, encourage, etc.), those can only be done when we are rubbing shoulders with each other. As good as our large gathering is on Sunday morning, it is in meeting in small groups, where people get to know my warts, my prayer needs, my strengths, etc., where my family and I really find community. :)

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It *was* very nice, very meaningful. I took several, multimeanings, not all of which could necessarily be expressed verbally (at least by me). We could get the community feeling very well with 65 or so. I can't imagine doing this with 600!!!

 

I'm not sure what's so sad about the idea of "whatever your sexual orientation" as opposed to the "there is no Jew nor Greek". Ideally, yes. But even Paul addressed the Corinthians not "the not from Corinthia or ....".

 

(BTW, Darby, I think the passion was every bit as brutal and horrible as displayed on the big screen-- not that I saw the movie...) Jesus' death is a part of the meaning of communion, not sure how big a part of it is in my own mind.

 

--des

 

I've kind of wanted an excuse to post this. I can't claim orginality. This is the call to communion from Wellington Avenue UCC,  Chicago IL. (The communion itself is done very nicely with the  congregation gathered around a table vs passing out the bread and wine or people coming up individually). .

 

This is lovely. I love the communion done around a table idea. I read somewhere that it is impossible to share a meal with an enemy. If you think about it, this rings true. So, communion in community can be seen as a ritual of peace, and that ALL may come speaks volumes.

 

Thanks for this des.

 

lily

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Howdy and thanks to all for the musings on communion.

 

I believe that Eucharist / Communion is Jesus's gift of himself to the world and a healing nourishment from the Cosmic Christ.

 

I also like what Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says about communion in "Living Buddha, Living Christ":

 

"Holy communion is a strong bell of mindfulness. We drink and eat all the time, but we usually ingest only our ideas, projects, worries, and anxiety. We do not really eat our bread or drink our beverage. If we allow ourselves to touch our bread deeply, we become reborn, because our bread is life itself. Eating it deeply, we touch the sun, the clouds, the earth, and everything in the cosmos. We touch life, and we touch the Kingdom of God. . . The body of Christ of the body of God, the body of ultimate reality, the ground of all existence. We do not have to look anywhere else for it. It resides deep down in our being. The Eucharistic rite encourages us to be fully aware so that we can touch the body of reality in us. Bread and wine are not symbols. They contain the reality, just as we do."

 

Sometimes when I pray before communion, I give thanks for the starlight and the rain and the earth that helped the wheat to grow, I give thanks to the seeds that had to die before it became bread, I give thanks for the workers who tilled the fields and harvested the grain, I give thanks for the people who kneaded the dough and baked the bread, I give thanks for all the people around me, who are also receiving this cosmic nourishment and with whom I am united in this meal, I give thanks because as we take in the Eucharist we are transformed into the Eucharist, becoming Eucharist for others . . .

 

Peace and communion,

curlytop

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>Sometimes when I pray before communion, I give thanks for the starlight and the rain and the earth that helped the wheat to grow, I give thanks to the seeds that had to die before it became bread, I give thanks for the workers who tilled the fields and harvested the grain, I give thanks for the people who kneaded the dough and baked the bread, I give thanks for all the people around me, who are also receiving this cosmic nourishment and with whom I am united in this meal, I give thanks because as we take in the Eucharist we are transformed into the Eucharist, becoming Eucharist for others . . .

 

 

That's interesting. Besides the welcome this church did this-- I hadn't identified quite what they did, but it is kind of at several levels of "thanks". Perhaps indentified and separated out a bit artificallly the way I am describing it, but the "physical" thanks, the rain, the workers who pick the grape or knead the bread; the "community" thanks-- that we are with each other and can share with each other; passing the peace with each other in the group. "Jesus" thanks, Jesus's life, his teachings (often specific) and usually the particular lines in the Bible where Jesus is attributed as "making communion a sacramental activity"; "spiritual" thanks for God's presence in our lives, the transforming power of Christ; etc. Of course this really sepates these levels of thanks, when it is not really done like this, it is one message that contains levels, not several different messages. The rain, our unity, Jesus' life are all a part of God's presense in our lives. This was given by the pastor and a liturgist (very key in the service, in fact gave the welcome).

 

I have tried to describe this to people many times and not been too successful.

 

--des

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Howdy and thanks to all for the musings on communion.

 

I believe that Eucharist / Communion is Jesus's gift of himself to the world and a healing nourishment from the Cosmic Christ.

 

I also like what Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says about communion in "Living Buddha, Living Christ":

 

"Holy communion is a strong bell of mindfulness. We drink and eat all the time, but we usually ingest only our ideas, projects, worries, and anxiety. We do not really eat our bread or drink our beverage. If we allow ourselves to touch our bread deeply, we become reborn, because our bread is life itself. Eating it deeply, we touch the sun, the clouds, the earth, and everything in the cosmos. We touch life, and we touch the Kingdom of God. . .  The body of Christ of the body of God, the body of ultimate reality, the ground of all existence. We do not have to look anywhere else for it. It resides deep down in our being. The Eucharistic rite encourages us to be fully aware so that we can touch the body of reality in us. Bread and wine are not symbols. They contain the reality, just as we do."

 

 

Peace and communion,

curlytop

 

 

This is an awesome quotation! Thanks.

 

This brings up a few points that are particularly important in my mind:the role of awareness in the enactment of the rite of communion; the awareness that the bread is the Body of Christ which is inseparable from the Land/Earth, and all creation; the awareness of the wine as the "blood" or fire or anointing of Christ which regenerates and renews all things; and the suggestion that the combining of these elements, through regeneration, and by awareness, gives birth to the Christ "child" in us, and through us, in all things. The bread is therefore a "feminine" element; the "Soul" of the world, and the wine a "masculine" element; the "Light" of the world, and the union of the two brings forth the "offspring" or the "firstfruits" of a new creation, or, Christ in you...and through you...into all creation groaning.

 

The important thing to understand is that this rite, if done with awareness, is transformative. The regeneration and renewal it enacts IS. It only requires our full awareness for it to BE. The mystery of our own sentience is the key to understanding that we are MEDIATORS of Reality; that through our Awareness of Reality, Reality unfolds; "what we loose on earth is loosed on heaven; and what we bind on earth is bound in heaven". There is no "time" in which these things take place...these things are already accomplished...they only await our awareness to be.

 

lily

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"Holy communion is a strong bell of mindfulness. We drink and eat all the time, but we usually ingest only our ideas, projects, worries, and anxiety. We do not really eat our bread or drink our beverage. If we allow ourselves to touch our bread deeply, we become reborn, because our bread is life itself. Eating it deeply, we touch the sun, the clouds, the earth, and everything in the cosmos. We touch life, and we touch the Kingdom of God. . . The body of Christ of the body of God, the body of ultimate reality, the ground of all existence. We do not have to look anywhere else for it. It resides deep down in our being. The Eucharistic rite encourages us to be fully aware so that we can touch the body of reality in us. Bread and wine are not symbols. They contain the reality, just as we do."

 

Sigh. I love Thich Nhat Han. I haven't read this book, but now I'm going to.

 

Curlytop, your posts are so heartfelt and beautifully written, they almost make me cry. :) Thank you for sharing so deeply.

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