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Author: Bill McChesney Author URL: Title: 24230 Communion and Extended Communion First Presbyterian Church Charlottesville April 3, 2011 Year: 2011 Source: Flickr Source URL: License: Creative Commons Attribution License License Url: License Shorthand: CC-BY Download Image

Church culture fascinates me. For instance, who decided that in the order of service communion should follow the greeting? You know what I’m talking about. There’s that time, every Sunday, when pastor announces that we should “extend the right hand of fellowship” to those around us? He means shake hands and say “Hi” to make folks feel welcome.

Well and good. People should feel welcome in our churches. I don’t have an issue with greeting folks (except that I mostly want to sit down and keep to myself). My problem is that when Communion Sunday rolls around it always comes after the greeting and not before.

My problem is that I don’t know where all those hands have been, you know? Who’s been scratching their head, nose, etc.? Who’s gone to the restroom (and not washed)? Who’s been changing diapers? Who’s (maybe) picked their nose, sneezed, coughed, whatever? (I’m sure you’ve seen that one guy who, when he thought no one was looking, scratched his posterior).

The answers are:

Don’t know

Don’t know

Don’t know

Don’t wanna know

Don’t know

And Ew!

And yet it never fails that I’m supposed to take communion, by placing that flavorless wafer in my mouth using the very hand I’ve just used to greet my brothers and sisters. They should have hand sanitizer dispensers as on the backs of pews so we can all freshen our hands before partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

It’s just a thought. 

I mean the juice comes in a little cup, right? Why not put that little, flavorless, moisture-sucking pellet in a cup, too–instead of in a receptacle where we all have to fish it out by hand? That’s just a thought, too, you know.

Then again, what if, say, the church implements a two-cup system (two cups, one… never mind), with the wafer in the bottom, and the wine substitute in the upper cup. What happens, say, if that juice sloshes around, or if the volunteers were a little too enthusiastic jamming those communion cups together? I’d say that the situation is ripe for that one perfect storm you never want to have happen when partaking of the Lord’s Supper:

Spilling Jesus.

What is spilling Jesus? It’s when the little cups either get stuck in the tray, and you can’t get them out, or the cups themselves are wedged so tightly together, that you end up spilling the juice all over yourself, your wife, her new dress, and the pew.

Not that that’s ever happened to me, mind you. It’s just a good thing I’m not Catholic (speaking of, can you imagine taking communion from the same cup? Many people, one cup? Yuck!).

I’m not sure what (if any) the lesson in all this is. Maybe we just need to be careful about how and where we spill Jesus?

All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, is upon us this week. In light of that, I have a question for you:

What’s your favorite scary movie?

It doesn’t have to be horror. It could be a thriller, action/adventure, whatever. It just has to be something that gets your blood pumping, your adrenaline flowing.

I’ll go first:

In recent cinematic history, I’d have to say it’s The Conjuring for me. It delivers the mood, the thrills, the chills, and a faith-affirming message, too.

What’s yours?

Share in the comments below.
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Recently, my online friend Caleb McNary emailed me with an inquiry. Would I willing to, during the month of November, engage in fearsome feats of follicular fortitude?

Would I willing to grow a beard for No shave November?

When I broached the subject with my wife, she wasn’t entirely supportive; because, you see, beards are not her favorite. 🙂 (I do have a nice pebbling of stubble sprouting from my face. We’ll see if she notices).


captain stubbles

The impetus behind No Shave November is to raise awareness for a worthy cause. In Caleb’s case, he’s put together a crackerjack team of (soon to be) bearded bloggers united for a single cause:

Our goal is simple: raise $1,000 to provide clean water for 50 people.

Will you join us?

To donate, or learn more about the project, click here.

If you’re among the male half of population, please consider joining in. If you do, use the hashtags #noshavember or #beardedbloggers, and post pictures of your hairy hirsuted progress to social media.

(As Caleb indicated in his post, if you’re a lady you’re more than welcome to join in. It is heading towards winter after all–so grow out that leg hair! Just don’t post any pics anywhere, okay?). 😉

Thanks! Hope you’ll consider joining in on all the fun, faith, and follicles!

First, a question:

What are you reading? I ask because I love books, and am always on the lookout for new reads. So keep that question in mind for the comments, ok?

Now, since I’ve let you go first, allow me to make some recommendations for books that will knock your socks off:

In the category of “Best book about Jesus I’ve ever read” is:

John Eldredge’s Beautiful Outlaw. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Once you read it your view of Jesus will never be the same. Promise.

As a free plug, and if you’re at all interested in a closer walk with Jesus, I highly recommend you check out some of the resources on the Ransomed Heart webstore. Lifechanging.

In the “Best New Book About Sports and Jesus” category, we have:


My My Internet Name Rival’s new book, Love Thy Rival, about what sports’ greatest rivalries teach us about Jesus’ command to love our enemies.

Coincident with the release of this book, Chad has partnered with Samaritan’s Purse to build a clinic in Haiti. Check out the campaign, and support your team against its rival.


Last, but not least, in the category of “Best Book About Jesus and Zombies,” is Clay Morgan’s new book, Undead: Revived, Resuscitated, and Reborn. Professor Morgan has his finger firmly on the pulse of pop culture (well, technically zombies don’t have a pulse, and will eat you if you try to take it. But I digress), while being firmly rooted in history, and scripture. Don’t miss this book!

So there are three books I’m reading (expect full reviews in the coming days) right now. Again: what are you reading? Share in the comments.

My Version of “Critic’s Math”

Not long ago, Jon Acuff, wrote about “critic’s math.” In his
, he talks about how even someone as successful as Larry
David (co-creator of Seinfeld) does it.

How does this formula work? X number of compliments + 1 insult = 1 insult. Acuff says that we all too often lose sight of the
overwhelmingly positive in the face of a single negative.

I do this. You probably do it, too. I think it’s human (meaning fallen) nature to accentuate the negatives this way (“I heard You, and I was naked. So I hid).

As if that isn’t bad enough, some of us (meaning: me) take it a step further.

What do I mean?

I call it Chad’s corollary. Here’s how that works:

I’ve achieved a modest level of success in the blogosphere, and thus
have received a certain number of “attaboys.” By and large, very few
people have leveled any criticism at me.

In a very real sense, I’m somewhat prepared for it: I know that my
writing is not for everyone, that I exist in a certain niche–not everyone will get me. And that’s okay. I can deal with the lumps that come my way.

But what happens when the criticism strikes closer to home? When perhaps my wife doesn’t like something I’ve written, or said? Am I likewise prepared?

The answer has been, unfortunately, a resounding “No.” In my version of “critic’s math,” despite all the nice things she’s said about my writing over the years, on the rare occasions she’s had something less than flattering to say, I’ve gone “to the mattresses.”

The one person on this earth who is the most “for me,” and I’ve treated her like a bad boss–even accused her of being out to get me. In a badly misplaced sense of “artistic pride,” I’ve given her

As my friend, Ricky
, told me: that’s what bad bosses do.

But not wives.

Wives are on our teams.

My wife is on my team. Yet when I work hard on something, and she
brings a challenge–a little accountability–I bring out the claws.
Despite learning at the Love and Respect conference that women, by and large, confront to connect. Not to spar, but to engage.

She does this because she doesn’t want anything to come between us.

Which I don’t want, either. But is exactly what I do when I want the
strokes without the accountability. By fighting so ardently for my vision, my rights, my point of view, I put her on the wrong side of my dream.

Which is exactly the last thing I want her to do: is see this blog–my
writing–as something that comes between us. Especially if I want it
to become something more than a modestly trafficked blog.

I need her on my team.

And what did Jesus say? “He who seeks to save his live, shall lose it…”

I’m done trying to “save” my life. As such, Lisa, I want to publicly
apologize for running roughshod over your feelings. For playing “critic’s math,” when all you wanted to do was build me up. Please forgive me.

And faithful readers, this is where you come in: if you’ve ever found any value in this blog, any worth in the words I’ve spilled upon this page, please help keep me accountable in giving proper weight to the words of the one person on Earth who loves me the most.

Thank-you for reading!

Have you ever done this? Pushed back when you should have embraced?