Eucharist, Schmoocharist


In the comments to Peacebang's blog discussion about UU Christian practices, the subject of the Eucharist came up. There was some discussion about whether Christian worship is somehow incomplete without it.

In response to that, I mentioned that Quaker Christians have managed to do just fine for hundreds of years without celebrating communion. I should make it clear that I don't have any problem with the fact that many Christians desire to include communion as part of their worship service. I think it is great that it means something to them.

I myself wouldn't have such a problem with communion, and might even feel more inclined to participate in the ritual myself, if there weren't so much importance attached to it. All that preciousness makes me defensive. The more its importance gets stressed, the less interested I am in partaking of it. Instead of it being a personal choice, it becomes instead an imperative. And, in religious matters, when I feel like I am being told what I must do, that is when I feel least inclined to do it.


D. G. D. Davidson said...

You're aware, I assume, that the Eucharist has been Christianity's central rite since the religion's beginnings?

Mystical Seeker said...

As I already stated, Quaker Christians have managed to practice their faith for the past several centuries without having the Eucharist at all. So obviously it has not only not been their "central rite", it hasn't been any rite at all for them.

For that matter, many Protestant Christians, who of course do practice communion in some form or other, do not necessarily practice it every Sunday--some do it once a month, for example. So it could hardly be their "central" rite when they manage to exclude it from their weekly worship three out of every four Sundays.

Jan said...

I see your point about the feeling of dictatorial acts being imposed upon you. Somehow the mystical participation in the eucharist is more a part of me--started growing without my intending it years ago. Not always apparent, but often is. That's why I returned to the Episcopal Church, but this particular Episcopal Church stresses silence and contemplation, which I yearn for. There is even a Thursday night contemplative eucharist, mostly in silence.

JZ said...

the eucharist is metaphor for community. we partake everyday.

quakerboy said...

jz speaks my mind.

There is a common misunderstanding that Quakers do not "do" the sacraments. That is really not the case. The sacraments for us are spiritual...communion with God and with one another in the Gathered Community at worship where Jesus is truly present and baptism by the Spirit.

For us, the external rituals were a shadow of the Truth that was behind those rituals. Contrary to what davidsion has written, there have always been groups throughout Christian history that have "spiritualized" the sacraments. This "remnant" has usually been the folks who put more emphasis on experiencing the living Christ and following Jesus' teachings than concerning themselves with following a rigid and dogmatic theology (the two are not mutually exclusive, I don't I'm not generalizing those who keep the sacraments in an outward fashion).

Only after Constantine were these Christians and their ideas persecuted. Those who share our view today include the Salvation Army, Christ's Sanctified Holy Church and some other holiness groups.