Actually centring worship around a real fellowship meal – not just a ritual of a dry, pale cracker and a little thimbleful of wine…
(or, worse, powerless and dead grape juice… which will never burst the wineskin, and never spread and grow throughout the world!)
… but actual meals, lead by the pastor literally feeding the flock with bread and wine…and some meat, maybe some veggies and fruit!
Christ has risen. It’s time for a feast!
But also, from First Corinthians 11:33-34, ESV
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.
So, a real meal, even a feast, but not a feeding frenzy.
Doing this, obeying the actual commandment of God, would heal us and our nation faster and more completely than any number of donations to the Republican Party.1
I would still put homeschooling as of even greater importance than the feast of the Lord’s Supper — stop sacrificing your children to the Moloch of the Christ-hating F-R-E-E government schools, yes? — but this should be a both-and thing, not an either-or.
Don’t murder your children,
Yes, even feed the infants.
(I can’t believe that I had to say that.)
Some more quotations from The Christian Passover: Agape Feast or Ritual Abuse?, by Stephen Perks, is a good read. Get the free PDF here.
This material from the Kuyper Foundation: Post Office Box 2, Taunton, Somerset, England, TA1 4ZD, www.kuyper.org
To continue from where I left off:
There is something extremely practical and well-suited to our constitution as human beings in the way that God has structured our worship, or at least what our worship should be. Contrary to long established opinion, God does not delight in worship that causes the worshipper pain and suffering, whether of a physical or mental character. I personally judge chorus singing a form of mental torture, though this does not mean it should not be enjoyable to others. And I find hymn and Psalm singing just as excruciating as chorus singing (in fact many choruses are Psalms or based on Psalms)—again, not because there is anything wrong with singing Psalms per se, but because we have stylised such forms of worship into rituals that are almost devoid of meaningful context and therefore fail to inspire any genuine heartfelt response (I speak for myself, though I suspect rather more people feel the same way than are prepared to admit it). This is only exacerbated by the lack of any aesthetic qualities that I can appreciate. Granted, these things on their own do not constitute the whole of the service, but it is not much better when we come to the other parts. Preaching is virtually devoid of any content, any real explanation of God’s word that applies to the reality of life or challenges the idolatry of our culture. Church services have become to me a mirage. They promise so much but deliver nothing; they are like deserts, without spiritual, cultural, aesthetic or intellectual nourishment, or even any real fellowship with other Christians. The result is that I go the church hopeful and come away vexed and troubled, simply bored at best. And this is not a flippant attitude on my part; rather, it is the result of over 35 years of exposure to such torture, a period in which I have genuinely tried to engage with what goes on in church. But the older I get the more difficult this becomes because the type of praise and worship that prevails in church services is for the most part infantile. What we get in the name of worship is adults behaving like children. Most church praise and worship services would not be out of place in a primary school assembly, which seems to be the general level of maturity at which such worship functions. We are even directed from the front to “do the actions” that accompany the choruses like little children in a school assembly, and in one sense this is appropriate because in many churches the rest of the service, including (especially!) the sermon, often takes place at an equally infantile level. This is the level of praise and worship in most churches today. One chorus I have heard being sung in church services includes the words: “Bop bop showaddy-waddy, bop bop showaddy-waddy.” Utter drivel! But it is not merely drivel. It has a seriously debilitating effect upon the life of the Church because it trivialises the faith and demeans it.5 These comments are not directed only at the Anglican Church; they are the result of my experience of virtually the whole spectrum of Church life in the UK, traditional and evangelical (including every major Protestant denomination).
But God has not instituted singing as what should be at the heart of one of the most important Christian rituals, much less the Christianised rave and heavy rock music that constitutes “worship” in many modern charismatic Church services or the kind of infantile choruses that are frequently sung in many evangelical Churches; rather he has put fellowship at the heart of this ritual by making it a meal. Why? Because without this important element of fellowship our Christian lives are impoverished, and no amount of chorus singing or attempting to create the right mood will ameliorate this deficiency. It is a deficiency that can only be remedied by fellowship.
5 Unfortunately the problem goes much deeper than congregational singing. The infantile level of praise and worship that prevails in Church services today is really a symptom of a much more profound problem, namely the general level of spiritual immaturity that pervades the Church. Nor is this a problem that is easily corrected since it affects the leadership of the Church. The spiritual, theological and intellectual immaturity of the clergy is replicated in the Church generally as a consequence of continual congregational exposure to weak leadership that encourages a culture of spiritual immaturity in the Church. Since future clergymen are nurtured in the faith in congregations immersed in this culture of spiritual immaturity the problem gets passed on to the next generation. The result is that the Church has succumbed to a general dumbing-down process that has enfeebled her witness to the world. Spiritual maturity and growth in understanding the faith is essential if the Church is to fulfil the Great Commission. Yet this is conspicuously absent in the modern Church on the whole. This problem seldom gets addressed in the theological colleges since those who run and teach in the colleges are themselves the product of the same culture of immaturity. As a consequence the spiritual, moral, theological and intellectual decrepitude of the Church becomes more severe with each generation.
My comment on what Perks wrote:
A trivializing and infantilizing religion, geared to the entertainment and satisfaction of men – while claiming to glorify God – will be treated, rightfully, as an irrelevant and laughable fluff-ball in the world outside the church walls.
This kind of religion dominates Western Christianity because Western Christians — pulpit and pew and seminary — demand it.
(And yes, I MUST repeat that the seminary system – including the theological college system – is nothing but a tradition of man, without any warrant from God, used to expand and perpetuate the power of senior clerics and religious bureaucrats while driving out the Holy Spirit from Christian congregations and assemblies, leaving nothing but an empty – but easily controlled and predictable – dead shell.
God despises such a belief system. So long as we hold onto it, we will diminish and fail and crumble into dust, as cursed2 as any other form of self-idolatry.
Don’t expect to hate God’s Law, and hate His explicit orders regarding how He should be worshipped, and then be blessed by Him.
Receiving a curse – carefully tailored to fit the crime, the contempt shown to God while claiming to be worship of Him – is far more likely.3
Returning to Perks:
Fellowship as an Optional Extra
But Churches have house groups and the like, someone will say. Well, I do not think there is anything wrong with house groups per se. In fact I think they can be very good and sometimes are, though not always. But they cannot take the place of what we should be doing on Sundays as the Church but in fact do not do. Not only are we impoverished by our lack of fellowship on Sundays. As a result we offer God less than he demands of us in terms of worship. Fellowship is not optional in the biblical scheme of worship; it is at the heart of worship. If we cannot square worship and fellowship as taking place at the same time, the problem is our dualistic world-view not the biblical requirement for worship that is fellowship based. In this respect it has often stuck me as odd that so many Christians will make such a fuss about how Christians should attend church every Sunday because we are required to meet together (i.e. have fellowship with each other) frequently in Scripture (Heb. 10:25); yet what happens when we get to church can hardly be described as fellowship at all much of the time. This is to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel (Mt. 23:24). We are encouraged to meet together frequently in Scripture precisely so that we can encourage each other in the faith—something it is impossible to do if we are not permitted to talk, i.e. communicate with each other.
Fellowship in the biblical scheme of things is not an optional extra thrown in at the end of the church service. It should be as much at the heart of the life of the Church worship service as anything else that takes place in the service. Otherwise why would such a central ritual as the Lord’s Supper be a shared meal? If there is no real community, no fellowship, there is no Church, no matter how good the sermon is, or the hymns and choruses, or the liturgy and “sacraments.” Fellowshipless worship is not the kind of worship that God requires of us.
Yet, if I want fellowship in the Church I must create it outside the Church’s official services on a Sunday. Why? Because in reality there is no fellowship in the Eucharist as practised today (and this is as true of the communions celebrated by nonconformist Churches as it is of the Anglican Eucharist). It has become a mere rite, devoid of the context that originally gave it meaning. Everyone remains isolated from each other and maintains a solemn silence. And I suspect there would be a good deal of disapprobation from most Church leaders if people were to start having fellowship during the Eucharist service—despite the fact that biblically the Lord’s Supper has been instituted precisely in the context of such fellowship— because such fellowship would spoil the “spiritual” mood that is deemed so important. But what is left of the shared meal, the fellowship around the Lord’s table, at the Eucharists or communion services in our “Bible believing” Churches? Nothing!
Most Church leaders are FAR more interested in protecting their ever-shrinking cultic power bases than in expanding the Kingdom of God, in training the nations to uphold Christ’s command and law-word.
But leave the dead to bury the dead.
I think this is wrong. I believe it is a perversion of what the Lord Jesus Christ instituted at the first Christian Passover. Fellowshipless worship services, and especially fellowshipless communions, are an abuse, a form of ritual abuse of God’s ordinance, the Christian Passover, which was never instituted to be celebrated in the way that it is celebrated in churches today. Rather, the communion was a fellowship event as much an anything else. To strip it of its fellowship context is to strip it of meaning as a covenant sign celebrated by the body of Christ, i.e. the Christian community. Today the Eucharist bears almost no resemblance to the Christian Passover meal that it was originally. Does anyone think there was silence at the celebration of the Passover, that everyone sat silently minding his own business? Celebrations are not usually like that. Funerals are though. Unfortunately, the Eucharist is more akin to a funeral service than a celebration of our deliverance from sin by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The refusal to take seriously the context of the communion service, i.e. the Christian Passover meal, a feast celebrating our deliverance from sin by the Lord Jesus Christ, is a serious failure of the Church’s duty to God and to her members. Doubtless there are all sorts of reasons why the Church should not follow the Bible in this matter but follow the inventions of men instead.—Oh dear! We might even have to include our children in a shared meal. How dreadful!6
Communion is no longer a fellowship meal around the Lord’s table. It is a solemn rite, a mere ritual. Instead of having fellowship we sing choruses or sit quietly communicating with no one while we are subjected to the ubiquitous chorus on the assumption that late twentieth-century love ballad-style pop music is somehow more spiritual than the fellowship that the Lord Jesus himself instituted as central to the life of his Church. I believe that such mood creation is no more spiritual than talking with each other in church, indeed is a hindrance to true spirituality because the stripping of talk, communication, fellowship, from our activities in church does not enhance or enrich our worship together; rather, it impoverishes our life as the Church, i.e. as a community of faith.
It is as if fellowship together in church were not really central to our Church life, but an optional extra after the real business of meeting as a Church has been accomplished. I disagree entirely. I see nothing inherently spiritual in working oneself into an emotional or mystical mood by the use of music or any other form of “spiritual” exercise. Is this not really a Christianised version of the chants that pagan religions use anyway? Certainly the effect seems to be similar, namely, a largely mindless time of emotional incontinence or mystical self-indulgence.
6 On the inclusion of children in the Eucharist see “Covenant Signs and Sacraments” in my book Common-Law Wives and Concubines, pp. 32–46.
Stephen Perk’s book Common-Law Wives and Concubines can be bought (paperback) or downloaded as PDF (free) at the kuyper.org website.
It’s time to win.
And to win, we must obey God.
FULLY obey God.
With all our hearts, and all our minds, body and soul.
1Actually, if all the political donations of American Christians were funnelled away from politics to buying more good bourbon, we would be happier and the nation would be more godly, too!
2The punishment shifts from “cursed” to “damned’ the more self-aware we are of the man-focused nature of modern Christian worship… and the more we explicitly refuse to repent of it.
So if God expects the focus of worship to be a feast of food — body (including physical bread and wine) and spirit (the Law-Word of God) — then we had better do it!
And if that means abandoning the dying denominations to the graveyard, so be it.
The Living Faith needs new wineskins.
3No wonder honest Atheists will be given few stripes, while treasonous Christian get their many stripes, by direct order of God.
On earth, as well as in the afterlife.
At least the Atheist does not claim to worship and fear God while at the same time despising His direct commands!
3 thoughts on “The Christian Passover II”