I’ve been preaching a sermon series to my congregation over the past few weeks on how the church needs to change in response to two major cultural shifts in North America – the end of Christendom and the end of the “modern era.”  You can read or hear the series, “A Whole New World,” on the church’s website.

I summarized the modern to post-modern shift like this:

We have gone from the era of Modernity, a time when reason, optimism, universality, objectivity, and “the grand story” were the hallmark values, to a post-modern era, when intuition, emotional intelligence, and mystery are valued and when each particular point of view has validity.

I was reflecting on communion the other day (an occupational hazard) and realized how important the two sacraments recognized by churches in the Reformed tradition – baptism and eucharist (communion, the Lord’s Supper) – are in the post-modern church.  The sacraments are experiential and the experiential is vital to post-modernity.

In my church, baptisms happen infrequently.  This is because not many people in my church are having babies and because we have few converts to Christianity joining the church.  Communion, on the other hand, is a sacrament we celebrate at least monthly and could celebrate weekly.

There is some resistance to weekly (or even bi-weekly) celebrations of communion in my congregation.  This resistance most frequently gets expressed as a fear that more frequent celebrations of this sacrament will lead to it becoming “less special.”  I wonder if there might also be a resistance based in modernity – because sacraments are essentially (in their essence) mystical and the modern mindset resists the mystical, the unexplainable.

The modern mind wants to know what communion “means.”  The post-modern mind asks, “What does communion mean to you?”  My answer to this post-modern question varies from experience to experience, depending on what’s going on in my life in that moment and what’s going on in the life of the community.

I hope that, as our church becomes more deeply rooted in post-modern sensibilities, we will be more open to the experiential in worship, especially the experience of communion and of God experienced through this sacrament.

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