Pentecost Communion at the Altar: Historical and Spiritual Perspectives

Join us for a historical expression of a timeless reality this Pentecost!

Christ’s Church at Lowhill is an historic church; next year marks our 250th anniversary, and our current sanctuary is 150 years old. But we also strive to be a church community that looks to entrench itself in the future to which God is calling. We’re learning together how to blend traditional and modern expressions and understandings of Christian worship and spiritual depth.

This Sunday, which is also Pentecost, we’ll be sharing Communion together. In and of itself, that’s not out of the ordinary, especially for a special day on the church calendar. What is different, though, is how we’ll be sharing the Lord’s Supper together. Rather than reinvent the sharing of the sacrament, we’re going to be doing something very, very traditional; something that hasn’t been done at Lowhill in many, many years.

Harkening back to practices from the long life of our church, we’ll be receiving Communion at the altar railing this Sunday. We hope that participating in this practice helps each of us understand a greater depth of meaning in the shared meal, or, perhaps, a more personal connection with the God we meet in bread and cup.

Altar railings are, themselves, a product of the Protestant Reformation. They were designed in part to mark off sacred altar space from the sanctuary in general, according to prevailing theological sentiments of the time or of a particular local church. For many Christians, the “otherness” of sacred space is an important aspect of the experience of worship.  Other Christians understand all space as sacred, and therefore have tended away from the use of altar rails. Here at Lowhill, somewhere along the line, an architectural and spiritual compromise seems to have been struck. Our altar rails are low and permeable, meant, I think, to suggest that while the kingdom of God is here in nascent, growing form, it’s not entirely here yet. Even so, there are very real places and times and experiences in which heaven meets earth. Jesus himself is the ultimate expression of this truth. Our altar rails, which once wrapped around the entire altar space but were scaled back in the 20th century to allow open access to the table, seem to suggest both the present nature of the kingdom and our access to it, and the not-yet complete work of Jesus’ mission and prayer, that God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Pentecost itself is a seminal moment in the building of the kingdom of God here among us. Join us this Sunday as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early church, and as we look with anticipation to the Spirit’s clear call in the present and for the future God is calling us to build.

Blessings!

Pastor Chris

 

 

Understanding the Holy Spirit (Video)

We’re celebrating Pentecost this Sunday, and welcome everyone to celebrate the coming of God’s Holy Spirit in the historic life of the church.

But what does any of that actually mean?

This video, from non-profit studio The Bible Project, does an excellent job connecting the story of the Holy Spirit throughout scripture and experience.

Breaking Babel, Building the Body of Christ

It was wonderful to worship together with organ, piano, and acoustic guitar! We also explored the Tower of Babel story by building and destroying our own tower of self-centeredness, then rebuilding it on the altar, piece by piece, into a representation not of our own pride or desires, but of the Body of Christ!

As always, you can check out our morning video stream at our Facebook page in case you weren’t able to be with us in person yesterday.   This coming Sunday, we’re celebrating Pentecost with flourishes of color, exciting music, and the story of the pouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church.  In many ways, the Pentecost story is a reversal of yesterday’s story of Babel.  Whether you’ve been in worship with us recently or not,  come help celebrate the often-forgotten power of Pentecost.  Join us this week!  We’re not just inviting you to church, but to a mission to build a world on earth as it is in Heaven…a just world for all, where each and all know the power, provision, and protection of God in the Body of Christ.