Thursday, August 16, 2007

The New Sacrament

How many evangelical churches focus more attention on their coffee bar than on the sacrament of the Lord's Supper? What engenders greater community, the ersatz Starbucks or the Eucharist?

Having little culture of its own, evangelicalism tends to absorb the surrounding culture in ahistorical and undiscerning ways. Yes, coffee is a gift from God, and I find no reason to boycott Starbucks. But think about it.


Daniel said...

I agree that evangelical churches tend to downplay the importance of the Eucharist bowing to the culture. In your opinion, do you think more traditional churches such as Anglican and Catholicism have let the culture sneak in to this sacrament as well, or not so much?

BJS said...

Since we've been going to an AMIA church the past year (Anglican Mission in America), we've grown in deep appreciation for communion.
Our church (as all Anglican churches do) practices the sacrement every week and it is the focus and highpoint of the service -- a deeply communal experience.

We also have great coffee afterwards. But the coffee isn't starbucks -- it's coffee grown by some of our Rwandan brothers and sisters that we give them a fair price for.

It's nice to see some balance (recognition that coffee is a good thing from God and can be used in very edifying ways) in your thoughtful post here (... for a change...).

BJS said...

On other point in response to daniel:

Although we are a part of an Anglican Church, I would say that we are also an evangelical congregation. The two things are not mutually exclusive.

(Not that you implied that they are -- just to be clear).

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


That's perfect: real communion and African coffee from Africans!

Glen said...

Our group meets routinely--weekly for Bible study and prayer and once or more per month to for a communion meal in homes that includes food from each family, a single lump of bread that is broken and passed, wine and coffee.

We talk about what God is doing in and among us, we celebrate our redemptions, we eat, we enjoy, we live and love each other.

No one rushes to eat before the others everyone gets their fill even if they are too poor to bring anything with them.

Communion--eucharist--has never been so rich. Until he comes!

J.E. McFatter said...

I'm with B.J. here. My wife and I have been attending an evangelical Anglican church the past six months, and the liturgy and focus on the sacrament has transformed Sunday worship for us. And since our church is under a bishop from Uganda, we also enjoy coffee grown by rural Ugandan farmers (most of it from Mt. Elgon, where we lived for a year).

Note: A well-developed liturgy keeps me focused and engaged througout the service, so that I don't need the coffee until afterwards.

Also, for the Tornado: I miss you brother! I need get in touch with you.

Abu Daoud said...

My wife and I come from a kind of generic, non-denom background but we are now Anglicans. We were formerly in the Diocese of Jerusalem, one of the four dioceses of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

The churches there celebrate communion either every week, or alternate between Eucharist and Morning Prayer (or Evening Prayer).

The Eucharist and the sacraments (and sacramental rites like Holy Matrimony, Orders, Reconciliation, etc) defy and overturn our utilitarian orientation. That is important because grace by its very nature is at least non-utilitarian, and at most anti-utiliatarian.

Drinking Starbucks coffee and having great donuts from Krispy Kream is a sad attempt to convey the same message about the gratuitousness of fellowship.