Monday, September 19, 2011

Undercover Clergy: Whose altar?

I almost went to a real-live church service yesterday. I had every intention of doing so before heading to work at the winery at noon. Then I looked at the potential church's website.

The "Welcome" page didn't say the address or the times of service (which itself makes me think hmmm...), so I went to the "worship" page, and beneath the times of the Sunday services found this:
All baptized Christians for whom this is a normal expression of faith are invited to receive communion at our altar, keeping in mind that it is the teaching of the Episcopal Church that Christ is truly present and God's power of love is truly at work in this blessed sacrament.
The more I thought about this, the madder I got. Now, I'm an open communion person, meaning I don't think you must be baptized before receiving communion, and I understand that this is not the official position of the Episcopal Church. But I thought, why put this here? Is that really the first thing you want to say about communion, is that "if you're not already in, you can't have it"?

But it was the "our altar" that really got me.  It's yours? Really? For my money, if you have to put any phrase there at all, I'd suggest changing that to "at St. Swithins". The altar you leave to God.

And what's with this "keeping in mind" business? Again, that reads as an "our altar" moment; if you don't see communion this way, well, then, you really don't belong here. The Episcopal Church's sign says "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You." In this case, I'd add the addendum, "...more or less."

Am I being hyper-sensitive here? What's weird is that I am completely offended by this, and I'm part of the in-crowd. The hyper-in crowd as an actual ordained minister in this denomination, more than welcome to receive communion under these conditions.  But what do you hear in this description?

As for church, I did what is now my usual thing and attended the terrific podcast of St. Laika's. I thank God and MadPriest for it, and for allowing me to attend communion after all.

7 comments:

it's margaret said...

OMG!!! You might send them this post, or something to chew on... seriously.

Anonymous said...

undercover copy editor:

Who's Altar?

or

Whose Altar?

Anonymous said...

I can't say this statement makes me mad, but I do have to confess that it completely confuses me. The more I think about it, in fact, the more I am utterly unclear about what this particular church is trying to say about who can and can't receive communion at its worship services.

On the one hand, why not just say that all baptized Christians are welcome to come up for communion? Who are the baptized Christians for whom receiving communion would not be a "normal expression of faith"?

And then again, on the other hand, what on earth does baptism have to do with whether or not a person believes that "Christ is truly present and God's power of love is truly at work" in communion? Wouldn't it be possible to believe that without being baptized?

LKT said...

Undercover copy editor! I am more embarrassed than I can say! Correction made.

janinsanfran said...

This church community is obviously conducting an argument on its website among its existing members. You are road kill.

How many of us do that?

Songs of a Soul Journey said...

Oh, how horrid. Guess no one at that church has read anything about Jesus and his ministry to ALL! Bad theology, that. And the Episcopal Church wonders why the enrollment is dropping... sheesh!

LKT said...

@janinsanfran Great insight! That explains a lot.