A Baptist Meets a Mutant Mass
Being a practicing Baptist, I’m about as low church as you can get. Not for Baptists are the confessional or patron saints or internecine debates over Con- vs. Transubstantiation. An Episcopalian friend reported to me some years ago that he was shocked — shocked! — to learn that a mutual evangelical friend didn’t know what Lent was. I replied, “What’s Lent?”
My expression of the historic Christian faith is Christianity stripped down to its barest essentials: the Trinity, the Cross, a sincerely uttered prayer of faith and repentance. We don’t have a “religion,” we have a “relationship with Jesus,” and the church is but a supplement to that relationship.
Communion is usually observed one Sunday a month and it takes on an air of a McSacrament. Using special silver-colored circular trays, deacons pass out small disposable plastic cups of grape juice and little white crackers to the people sitting in their pews. While the disbursement takes place, a pastor tells the assembled that they don’t need to be members of this church to participate, but he asks non-Christians to refrain and leaves it at that. When all have been served, the preacher goes out of his way to assure us that this “stands for” the body and blood of Christ. The preacher says a prayer — and then it’s down the pipe in unison, except for impatient children who’ve already finished off the grape juice and begun nibbling on the cracker.
A friend from college from a similar background recently recalled to me, “I always asked my mom why we couldn’t just replace the grape juice and crackers with Cokes and cheeseburgers.” The Baptist faith has no logical answer to this question except, perhaps, “Then you might enjoy it too much.”
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