March 24, 2009

thoughts on sacraments

In the car this evening Allen and I ended up talking about people's approach (namely in our church) the the sacraments -specifically communion. We tend to lean rather towards the paedo end of things ourselves. For those who aren't familiar with the debate going on in some circles, there are people of the baby baptizing persuasion who believe that all baptized children capable of eating and drinking should be permitted/encouraged/brought forward to take communion barring extraordinary behavior on the child's part (such as the sort which would bar any other Christian from the Table). The way I understand it, the argument goes thusly:

1. Infant baptism recognizes/affirms that "the promise is to you and to your children" and that simply being born to believing parents puts a child in a particular covenantal relationship with God. In this way baptism is analogous to circumcision. Like the Jewish born child born under the old covenant, a baptized infant born to believing parents today is born into certain obligations towards God -namely to love God and keep His commandments.

2. God ordained the Lord's Table for the benefit of those in His family -those people in covenantal relationship with Him.

3. Since we believe baptized infants are in a real sense part of God's family and under covanental obligations we shouldn't bar them from receiving this very real means of grace.

All that to say that Allen and I tend towards the "bring 'em young" approach. If they can articulate a basic love of God and understanding of salvation I really don't see the problem letting take communion. What I do see a problem with is people who don't teach their kids (or their congregations) that communion is something we need to be anticipating. In the Table we encounter God's grace in a tangible way and receive strength to in the petty glories of life on earth. Whether you think your kid should come to the table at 3 or 12, letting them remain apathetic about communion doesn't seem like a good option. And of course I say this having (for an evangelical) a pretty high view of communion. I honestly don't understand churches who don't have weekly communion. I've heard the arguments for infrequent communion, and I don't buy them. I must admit that one of the silliest arguments I've heard is that it will make visiting non-believers feel excluded. Seriously, what do you say to that? The Gospel is an invitation -a command even- to put away our sinful, rebellious ways and come to Christ. You who are not sons and daughters may now become children of God. You who stand outside the doors hungry and naked may come to be clothed and fed. That's not exclusive, but communion is?

Anyway, all that to say I'm really glad I go to a church that values communion so highly and invites us week after week to meet Christ where He presides over the table He has laid for His children, and every week I love watching a certain little girl dancing in the aisle as she waits to dip her bit of bread in the wine cup. The eagerness in her upturned face confronts my jadedness and reminds me what it means to approach God with the joyous expectation of a child.

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