In worship on Sunday, I’ll be talking about communion. I’ve been reading things I haven’t read in awhile, like Barclay’s Apology and Jack Willcuts’ Why Friends are Friends and Elton Trueblood’s A People Called Quakers. I’ve read things I haven’t read before, in particular Thomas Kelly’s essay on symbolism in The Eternal Promise. Kelly has perhaps the best expression of the Quaker view on the sacraments that I’ve read.
But what is making me restless and prayerful for Sunday are the e-mails I’m reading. I wrote several in our church family, people who come from other church backgrounds, and asked these questions:
What are some of the ongoing questions/challenges/critiques you have of the Friends’ practice of not using elements to practice communion?
What do you miss about regular communion with the elements? What is important to you personally about that practice?
What parts of the Quaker view are most helpful to you? Has the non-use of elements brought about any different understanding or experience?
There are many things I love about our Quaker perspective. There are some things I push back against. But aside from that, what’s standing out to me is that only a few have anything to say in response to the last question. That troubles me; it tells me that we are not articulating well, we are not calling people toward, we are not setting before them the beautiful example of lives lit aflame by the all-consuming presence of the bread of life.
(For those on my blog: feel free to give your own responses to these questions, too.)