In a recent sermon (March 23) I referenced the story told in Wes Anderson’s film “Darjeeling Limited.” The story is of three brothers who are each in the midst of a personal crisis traveling through India on a train as a type of spiritual pilgrimage. It is not surprising that the pilgrimage does not exactly go as planned, but the why behind it is understandable. They were trying to readjust their identity in light of losing their father. These brothers didn’t know who they were without their father. These brothers didn’t know their story now that a character was missing. Since they didn’t know their story, they didn’t know what to do with their lives. This is the provocative point made by Alasdair Macintyre when he says, “I can only answer the question, ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question, ‘Of what story do I find myself a part?’’
We do different actions to reinforce our roles in a story. We tell our spouse that we love him or her not only when we feel like it, but to remind us that in our story we are the type of person who loves his or her spouse. Any time we want to make a change in our life, the best way to do that is to create a rhythm that reinforces that desire. If we want to exercise more, we get into a rhythm where we become the type of person who exercises more. If we want to be a better parent, we get into a rhythm of doing ‘better parent’ activities with our child.
Worship in the church is to be a rhythm that shapes our desires and reminds us of our true roles in God’s world as a part of the Great Story. For the Church, worship is the way that we celebrate what God has done for us and the world, which is seen most clearly in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. We celebrate this by rehearsing and remembering the story of God. The central events of our worship are the rehearsing and remembering of God speaking and acting in our world. We emphasize God speaking in the preaching of the Word and acting through the sacraments of Baptism and Communion.
For various reasons many churches have neglected to emphasize both God’s speaking and acting, typically always making sure that a sermon is preached whether or not a sacrament is performed. The danger of this is that sermons can make Christianity to be mainly about doing something instead of primarily about receiving something from God, which is what is always highlighted in both of the sacraments.
To this end, here at Cobblestone we are going to test out what it would be for us to have a more whole worship with receiving communion every Sunday in the Easter season, which begins on Easter and continues for the next six Sundays after Easter. After this the consistory will decide if this is something we want to continue indefinitely.
Some will say that this will take away the specialness of Communion. This is true, but I ask, would you intentionally spend less time with a dear friend to make sure that your rare encounters with your friend would be more special? I think the same goes with Communion.
At the table we are reminded of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, we commune with Him, and we get a foretaste of the kingdom to come, when God will wipe away all tears, where there will be plenty of room at the table and all may eat and be satisfied.