Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I read an article entitled “Quaker Communion” (in the Feb. 2012 Friends Journal) in which the author speaks about Quakers missing out on something and having “thrown the baby out with the bath water” by not participating in the sharing of the bread and the cup as communion. In my opinion what Friends did was to take the baby out of the bath water and celebrate its growth and participation in all of life. They saw keeping the “baby” in the bath water separates it from full presence in each of life’s activities not just in the sharing of the bread and the cup.
The one “communion” that I have participated in was with a small group of people at a regular meeting of an early morning prayer group. Most of the individuals were from the Mennonite church that my family and I were attending during my time in graduate school. We often shared donuts and brought our own coffee, but one morning Jeptha brought some sweet bread and some juice. He asked that we share in communion with one another as we drank the juice and ate the bread. After we had talked a little about the remembrance of Christ I mentioned that I was thankful that it was orange juice and not grape juice since I would have had some difficulty with the symbolism. Jeptha remarked that he actually had intended to bring grape juice but, when he thought of my beliefs regarding communion, he had brought the orange juice. That provoked a very good discussion on the use of symbols and the true meaning of communion with one another and Christ.
My father remarked at one point that we “paused” at the beginning of every meal, before we would partake in food and drink, not “in remembrance of” a past event nor to ask for the presence of Christ, but to remind ourselves that Christ IS present with us. Quaker Communion was not and should not be a physical representation of a virtual or conceptual reality but rather a reality known “experimentally” through the all day, every day experiences we share with one another and Christ. I believe that it was this form of communion that gave the early Friends much of their energy and excitement that brought such a rapid growth and commitment among those who partook of the reality of the “life blood” and body of believers.
In my opinion this makes Friends a very “difficult” or “peculiar” Religious Society to belong to. It seems easier to compartmentalize and delegate some of the responsibility and authority for our “spiritual lives” to other people or actions. However, we are called to make every thought, word, and deed of our lives not as “if” we were in the presence of God but because the presence of Love, Light, or Christ is with us always and becomes our prime motivation.