I participated in a Thanksgiving Ecumenical service once. What an eye opener. It was held at one of the two local Lutheran Churches in Port Clinton, Ohio. As I recalled both United Methodist pastors were present. A Presbyterian, Episcopal, Assembly of God, Nazarene, and a Wesleyan (that was me) pastor was also present. It was my job to disburse the element of the “bread” for Holy Communion. As I was taught by my mentoring pastor, I gave the “Word” while giving the bread.
So, if you can imagine, I had a flat disc about the size of a dessert saucer in my hands. People would pass by my station and tear off a piece of unleavened bread for themselves and then move on to the “wine” station. As each person would tear off their portion of the bread from the disc, I would quote scripture from “The Passion” referring to the bread or some other New Testament bread reference.
I could begin to tell who was from what denomination by the way they responded to me. The Catholics and Episcopalians in the crowd would tear off the bread and hold it carefully in two hands. As I would begin to quote scripture, they would bow their heads and wait until I had finished before placing the sacrament in their mouth and moving to the next station.
The Lutherans and the Presbyterians would tear off the bread, carefully hold it in two hands, gaze at me while I quoted the Word, partake, and then move to the next station.
The United Methodists would tear off the bread, place it in two hands and while I would be speaking reverently bow their heads and partake of the sacrament and continue on to the next station.
All the other “Protestants” would tear of their bread with one hand place it in their mouth and continue on as if I wasn’t speaking at all.
Now just so that you understand me, I don’t think their behavior rude, or sacrilegious. I had just never seen different denominations practice Holy Communion side by side before, and I learned something.
Each group “performed” as they had been taught. So, what I saw like it or not, was a reflection of what denominations taught their people. Some of my own parishioners were there. They behaved as the rest of the “Protestants” behaved.
Now, if you think this is about Holy Communion and the way people handle the sacraments, you are thinking way to small! This is about ministers and their teaching. If we teach the “sacredness” of the Holy Communion elements, people will understand the sacredness of the elements. If we teach the value of prayer, people will pray. If we teach the blessedness of giving, people will give. I believe that if we teach the necessity of Holy Living, people will seek to live a Holy Life.
Therefore, I believe that people are kept in the bondage of sin because ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ are not unified in declaring the requirement of a holy, sanctified life.
Am I wrong?