You Call THAT a Love Feast?


When I was growing up in the Lutheran Church, the Jesus People revolution was beginning to permeate a few more open-minded traditional churches. In my youth group we sang songs by Ray Repp, Larry Norman, Honeytree, and Don Francisco. Everyone sported longer hair and Jesus was “what was happening.” The elements in communionPeople talked about community, and partaking of the bread and wine went from being just “communion” to “The Love Feast.”

Fast forward more years than I care to admit and while some of that 70s hippie Christian mentality has worn off, the idea of communion being “The Love Feast” has never left me. The Book of Hebrews talks about heavenly things having earthly counterparts, and I see the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as being represented here by our time of communion.

Why then is communion within our churches today such an amazingly lackluster event? Why do so many of us eat “bread” that consists of quarter-sized, airy wafers or little wheat tic-tacs? And where did the wine go? Some feast, huh?

No, I’m not trying to be sacrilegious. This is one of my top five pet peeves with the way we practice the Faith. It baffles me that for those who believe that communion is held strictly as a remembrance it’s done in such a forgettable way. As for the more mystical who believe that something special happens when we partake of communion, are we expected to believe that a thimble of Welch’s and a molar-cracking divot of hardtack are components of a transcendent experience? Evangelicals come off the worst here. The farther away you get from the Lutherans and Old Line Presbyterians, the closer you are to grape Kool Aid in a plastic shotglass and stale, crumbled saltines.

I’ll be honest here: I believe we are dishonoring the Lord by not going all out with communion. Frankly, I’d love to see churches completely bag the juice and crackers routine, hold a special communion service at least once a month, and serve a real meal during which the church fellowships and communion is handed out—and with a genuine varietal wine (Cabernet for those used to wine and Beaujolais for those being weaned off Welch’s) in a real glass and a basketful or two of fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade loaves of bread with some genuine heft to them. (Or, if you want do do it eaxctly right, consider making up some unleavened bread. Either way, get one of the best bakers in your church to make it.) Encourage people to rip off more than a dime-sized piece, too. Hold it in the sanctuary if you have no other space. (And if no one in your church can cook, rent out the local Italian restaurant and use church money to pay for everyone’s meal.) Spend several hours praying for each person who needs prayer. Confess your sins to each other. Dance a group dance if need be. But by all means, be a living church of living people and not a dry desert hostel filled with stoics. Go home refreshed for the joy and exuberance of it all.

And you—yes, you in the house church—stop laughing.

6 thoughts on “You Call THAT a Love Feast?

  1. andrew@stonepavement

    …try washing the feet of those to whom you serve communion…it levels the room for all involved and glorifies God in an amazing way…it’s all Grace…thanks for refreshing our thoughts on the importance of genuine communion…

  2. Gaddabout

    A long time ago (early to mid-70s) during a Church of God regional convention in Phoenix, my father tells a story of dissension in the ranks of leadership. The overseer was a wise old man who some had felt lost his nerve to manage new pastors who had begun to challenge old things (like my father, who had more or less grown his first church in Flagstaff from zero to 150 with rock concerts for the hippies and newer style worship).

    At the start of the convention the overseer was expected to speak for an hour or two on the state of things. The title of his session was called “Service of Men” or something like that. Some were expecting him to resign. Instead, he called up his assistants and speakers to the podium.

    First, he had some bread on the table, and he served it with what was undeniably grape juice (CoG was a teetotalling org back then). Then, he brought a pale of water and forced all the men to take off their shoes and socks. One by one, he washed their feet. Then he gathered his pale and walked off stage. The audience was stunned, but there were very few who left the place that were not greatly humbled by this great lesson.

  3. I agree with you completely on this one, Dan. Some folks seem to try and see how small a fragment of dry cracker they can break off and still get some into their mouths.Unfortunately, many churches of Christ have split over these very issues, and I refuse to push it. I’m still working on reforming hearts, but it does make me sad how badly we’ve diminished and sanitized the supper of the Lord.

  4. Phillip Fayers

    Interesting to see The Love Feast as an idea again. I grew up in the Salvation Army in the UK and the idea of the Love Feast had existed there, far pre-dating any 70’s hippy associations.

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