Sunday, August 13, 2006

From The Outside Looking In

While sitting in church today, I noticed the pretty flowers on the Lord's Supper table. I read the inscription on the table to myself, "This Do In Remembrance Of Me." I have always gone to a Baptist church. I have visited other denominations with friends and family. But I am most familiar with Baptist churches. In every Baptist church I have attended, there has been a similar table with the exact same inscription. You will have to let me know if you have the same inscription on a table at your church's altar.

What dawned on me today was this- What would a person who had never stepped foot inside any church think when she read "This Do In Remembrance Of Me" on a day that isn't designated for The Lord's Supper? Any time I have seen that table where the words were visible, there has always been flowers on the table. The times the table was actually used for communion, the letters have always been covered up with a white table cloth. Just by looking at the table, the flowers, and the inscription, you could assume that we put flowers on the table in memory of someone.

It makes me wonder what "unchurched" people are walking away with. What if no one interacts with them, or worse still, is rude? What if they walk away totally confused? I know that the minister has a message. But, people notice more than just the message.

Some of the routines we have in church may be puzzling. And I wonder if we are doing a good job explaining it all. Or maybe we are just too focused on the routines, and not on the really important message of Jesus Christ.

I just don't know. What do you think?


Laurel Wreath said...

Just thinking out loud here. My old Baptist church had a table that said that, my current baptist church does not have the table. Maybe a visitor does not know what it means, and just assumes we are talking about "going to church" do this (go to church) in rememberance of me.

I guess it would be different with each person. But God is in control of what they percieve (the visitor).

Just some thoughts.

Melanie said...

Laurel Wreath-
Yes. I am so glad we have the Holy Spirit to direct us. The table issue just made me think about other things I understand about "church lingo" that someone else may not. Thank you for your thoughts! :>)

Susanne said...

You are incredibly observant. Our communion table says the same and it doesn't have anything on it when we're not doing communion. I've always known what that meant being raised catholic, so have never given it a second thought, but you raise a very good question. Not everyone who walks thru the doors will know what things mean but I still don't know what some of the subtleties in a catholic ceremony means. And now being in a interdenominational church I don't notice quite so many symbolic things that happen. I guess I always thought that you can't answer every question every person would have in one visit. It's a continual learning as you attend.

ruth said...

Having visited a lot of different churches over my lifetime, I would say that there are several important elements in helping a visitor feel at home when they visit & want to come back. A minister who preaches a message of the gospel in terms so simple that even the youngest will understand the message, & a congregation which is warm & genuinely freiendly. If a person doesn't know what something means, they will be drawn back to find out more.

Melissa said...

Good, thought provoking question. My church has the same table. We put our prayer concerns on it when we don't have communion.

There's a hymn we sing called "In Remembrance of Me", and I can't find the lyrics...but it starts talking about communion & then goes to other things we are to do in remembrance of Jesus. It's beautiful.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Very interesting thought. It is good to look at our practices through different eyes. I tend to think people are more inclined to be turned off if peoople are stuffy, not if there are practices they don't understand yet.

Thanks for visiting my blog and for sharing your perspective on sheltering. I think your church experience is very sad, but another reason that as parents we can assume absolutely NOTHING! We have to be involved, and pray pray pray!!