This summer, my divinity-student wife is doing a unit of clinical pastoral education.
As someone without any pastoral care experience, I’ve been fascinated
to hear about the scenarios (real and hypothetical) that come up in
CPE-related conversations. For instance, a classic: Would you baptize a
This week I am headed to the Hindu Temple in Atlanta so that the students in my World Religions class may see a living faith in action. When they fill out their final evaluation forms, many of them will say that the field trips were the best part of the class, and I will agree with them.
Catechism class will now come to order. Either because of bad teaching in the preceding generation or because one kid did not pay attention, a crucial misstatement of doctrine has been repeated in the press.
Christians believe in a complex God, three coeternal persons living a single enduring communion. The divine life has varied dimensions and allows human interaction with the triune God to take different forms. God’s channels are open on many frequencies.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
After 30 years of teaching Christian ethics, I decided that I needed to express myself in something besides words. I wanted a fresh start and a fresh form, something that would go beyond nostalgia, some new symbolic form that would be congruent with my deepest convictions and aspirations. I decided to build a communion table.
We Christians are a people divided by what unites us. We believe that God has, through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, made us one people, but how the Eucharist works to make us one with God and one another has been one of the most divisive points of conflict between Christians, particularly since the Reformation.
I grew up on a sterile communion ritual: Jesus’ flesh was never mentioned. There were neatly cubed pieces of white bread and silver thimblefuls of grape juice, but we did not talk about the blood. On Christmas and Easter the deacons wore tuxedos as if they were distributing hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.
For generations residents of San Diego and Tijuana have gathered at Friendship Park to visit with family and friends through the border fence. In coming months the Department of Homeland Security will erect a secondary fence across the park, eliminating public access to this historic meeting place. Until then, I will serve Communion at Friendship Park each Sunday afternoon, distributing the elements through the border fence.