- Definition of Eucharist: "good favor, grace." In verb form, it means, "to give thanks." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharist
- Theme One: Jesus, the Center
- The person, passion and promise of Jesus is the center of the Eucharist
- The person, passion and promise of Jesus is the center of Canton Adventist
- Theme Two: The Community Gathered Inextricably Linked to Jesus, the Center
- The Eucharist can only be experienced when encircled by the faith community
- For Canton Adventist, Jesus is most tangibly present when this faith community is gathered together
- The Eucharist is the visible and tangible manifestation of Jesus’ death until he returns
- Canton Adventist is to be a visible and tangible manifestation of Jesus to the citizens of Canton until he returns
I will look more in-depth at these three themes in the remaining presentations in this teaching series. I then shared theme four and drew some implications for that theme:
- Theme Four: Messy People Not an Invalidation of the First Three Themes
- The people who were gathered with Jesus for the Eucharist were a mess of behavior and belief. This theme did not undermine the first three themes of the Eucharist
- The people of Canton Adventist are a messy group of various behaviors and beliefs. This fact does not undermine the first three themes of the church
The first implication of this theme is that we must stop looking for and expecting for everybody to behaving the same way or even as they are "supposed" to. In a society that is increasingly moving away from Judeo-Christian traditional values, the church has to be a place that is comfortable with a wider variety of behaviors if we expect to be an influencer for God’s kingdom and a place that people can seek Jesus as they are.
The second implication is that we have to stop expecting that each person within the faith community will be in uniformity with the expressed belief system of that church. Everyone’s belief system is constantly shifting, adjusting, evolving as they continue their journey with Jesus. While my faith community is part of the larger Seventh-day Adventist denomination and its belief system, it is made up of people who come from a broad variety of experiences and who are at different stages of that journey with Jesus. These individual viewpoints are not just necessarily because someone hasn’t yet come to believe the "truths" of the Adventist doctrinal system, but may reflect a deep study and reflection on a specific point of doctrine which leads to a disagreement with it. The Adventist beliefs must always be highly respected and receive a hearing at Canton Adventist. But other "non-Adventist" viewpoints should be highly respected and given a hearing as well. And everything should be continually questioned and challenged. The Bible says, "Iron sharpens iron," (Proverbs 27.17, NIV).
And an addendum to the second implication is that a true community of faith must desire everyone’s growth, not belief conformity for the sake of "keeping the peace" or "keeping the faith." Learning and growth happen when questions are allowed to be asked and when the standard viewpoint can be challenged. In doing this, faith is not undermined, but is rather tested, tried and refined. This is what God has always done with his people: shake them out of the status quo to help them wrestle with and come to a better understanding of who he is and what he is calling his people to do.
And the third implication is that the bonds formed in community go much deeper when honesty and authenticity reign. Community can only go so deep when everyone expects everyone to be happy, behaving well, and completely convinced of their beliefs. This naive view of community inhibits true fellowship. When a community desires that each person is growing in Jesus and receiving the love and support of fellow sojourners, it can handle behavioral and belief differences in its midst.