In conversation over lunch one day last winter, a friend and I agreed that there might be some interest, out here on the prairie just northwest of Columbus, Ohio, in a worship service that would combine a focus on serious Christian discipleship with liturgical worship forms. We had both served Mennonite churches and institutions, where we had embraced that tradition’s emphasis on faithful service as the mark of genuine faith. At the same time, we were both drawn to the beauty and mystery that are at the heart of the liturgical tradition in worship. I had even been ordained an Anglican priest in 2011. Continue reading
I served as a minister in the Free Church tradition for more than thirty-five years, first as a Baptist then as a non-denominational evangelical then as a Mennonite. For all of those years, I believed and taught that the benefit to be derived from baptism and communion (also called “the Lord’s supper,” but never “the Eucharist”) was in their value as powerful symbols of “spiritual” truths.
Baptism symbolized a believer’s faith in Christ as Savior and Lord and the personal commitment to follow Him as a faithful and obedient disciple. Communion symbolized the sacrifice of Christ in His crucifixion—His broken body (the bread) and His shed blood (the wine, or more likely grape juice). Both these practices represented something else. They were beneficial to the degree that a Christian knew what they stood for. They mainly functioned as “object lessons,” pointing to a spiritual reality but without value in and of themselves.