Tuesday, May 17, 2016

almost meaningless theological musings

I had a deep conversation today with the folks I meet with most Tuesdays. Mostly is was my friend, Michael, and me.

Michael was explaining something he'd been told by a priest who works for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (we used to call it "the Diocese", but don't now). She was talking about sacraments by using and inverted triangle to illustrate her point.

The broad, top line of the inverted triangle, was, she said, 'Baptism'--the primary 'sacrament' and went on to show how the other six 'derive' from baptism.

I sort of lost it at some point, because I don't see it that way at all. Jesus said to his disciples they must 'baptize' and they must 'share bread and wine in his memory and it would be his body and blood'. Sometimes we call Eucharist and Baptism the 'dominical sacraments' (my spell check says "dominical" is misspelled but won't give me an option for it)--it's like "anno dominus" (which my spellcheck doesn't like either but won't respond to my clicks on ABC)...'the year of our Lord'.

Jesus gave us those two sacraments. He never gave us the other five--confirmation, ordination, reconciliation, marriage and unction. Those the church 'made up' out of whole cloth.

I don't mind that. I am very 'low church' and informal in liturgical practice, but I have a very 'high' view of the Sacraments. Which means, I believe they mean something and aren't just 'symbols', as Protestants believe. I think sacraments 'matter' in a real way. Like in life.

The 7 are all 'real' to me. But Baptism and Eucharist are the primary ones from which the others flow.

All this is because I think the rule about 'being baptized' to receive communion is non-sense. To my understanding, only the disciples of Jesus who were previously followers of John the Baptist would have been 'baptized' at the Last Supper.

If the 'font' can lead to the Table, then the Table can lead to the 'font'.

I've known dozens of people who received communion before they were baptized and because 'the Body and Blood' really mean something, they came to ask for baptism.

That simple. The Spirit can lead both ways.

That's all I'm trying to say.

(I once gave communion to a man in Charleston, West Virginia who wore a turban and had a red dot on his head. I never saw him before or after. He just showed up after the service began, received communion and left before the recessional.

Several people asked me if I knew he was a Christian (baptized) or not. I told them it didn't matter. "If God really doesn't want unbaptized people receiving communion God can strike me dead or strike them dead. Whichever. But if they come to the Table and reach out their hands I cannot, cannot deny them Christ's Body."

The Table belongs to God, not to the Church.

This was all almost meaningless theological musings...but not to me!!!

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.