I have done some reading recently about the many rituals performed by different cultures. I think, in general, older people place great value on the traditions of the past, while younger people may prefer to adopt their own version, or create new ones.
My perception (the word I use when I know I am not an that knowledgeable) is that within religious groups, the older their origin the more likely they are to place great importance on rituals. Conservative, Fundamentalist, Orthodox religious groups tend to believe the rituals in their holy books should be followed exactly as they are written, which of course is still open to interpretation. Liberal, reform groups use these “instructions” more as a guide.
How important do you believe it is to follow the traditions of the past?
I am probably one of the least traditional people on the plant. I do see value in “honouring” some traditions from the past, such as Thanksgiving (US). I also believe there isn’t any tradition from the past that can’t be improved on.
From the Bible I will pick the ritual of the Eucharist, also called Holy Communion.
1 Corinthians 11:23 – 24 (King James Version)
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken] for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Also Mark 14:23 – 24 (KJV)
23 Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new[a] covenant, which is shed for many.
I will use Wikipedia for my source because it is easy to follow, and I don’t have the time for a great deal of research. Remember I am a working man now. 🙂
In his First Epistle to the Corinthians (c 54-55), Paul the Apostle gives the earliest recorded description of Jesus’ Last Supper: “The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’.”
also – “The synoptic gospels, first Mark, and then Matthew and Luke, depict Jesus as presiding over the Last Supper. References to Jesus’ body and blood foreshadow his crucifixion, and he identifies them as a new covenant. In the gospel of John, the account of the Last Supper has no mention of Jesus taking bread and wine and speaking of them as his body and blood; instead it recounts his humble act of washing the disciples’ feet, the prophecy of the betrayal, which set in motion the events that would lead to the cross, and his long discourse in response to some questions posed by his followers, in which he went on to speak of the importance of the unity of the disciples with him and each other.”
further – “The Didache (Greek: teaching) is an early Church order, including, among other features, instructions for Baptism and the Eucharist. Most scholars date it to the early 2nd century. Two separate Eucharistic traditions appear in the Didache, the earlier tradition in chapter 10 and the later one preceding it in chapter 9.The Eucharist is mentioned again in chapter 14.
Ignatius of Antioch, one of the Apostolic Fathers and a direct disciple of the Apostle John, mentions the Eucharist as “the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ”, and Justin Martyr speaks of it as more than a meal: “the food over which the prayer of thanksgiving, the word received from Christ, has been said … is the flesh and blood of this Jesus who became flesh … and the deacons carry some to those who are absent.”
2) Eucharistic Theology
“Many Christian denominations classify the Eucharist as a sacrament. Some Protestants prefer to call it an ordinance, viewing it not as a specific channel of divine grace but as an expression of faith and of obedience to Christ.
Most Christians, even those who deny that there is any real change in the elements used, recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about exactly how, where, and when Christ is present. Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy teach that the consecrated elements truly become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Transubstantiation is the metaphysical explanation given by Roman Catholics as to how this transformation occurs. Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Jesus are present “in, with and under” the forms of bread and wine, a concept known as the sacramental union. The Reformed churches, following the teachings of John Calvin, believe in a spiritual (or “pneumatic”) real presence of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and received by faith. Anglicans adhere to a range of views although the Anglican church officially teaches the real presence. Some Christians reject the concept of the real presence, believing that the Eucharist is only a memorial the death of Christ.
The Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document of the World Council of Churches, attempting to present the common understanding of the Eucharist on the part of the generality of Christians, describes it as “essentially the sacrament of the gift which God makes to us in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit”, “Thanksgiving to the Father”, “Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ”, “the sacrament of the unique sacrifice of Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us”, “the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his “real presence “, “Invocation of the Spirit”, “Communion of the Faithful”, and “Meal of the Kingdom”.
What is your view of The Eucharist, and what the Bible says about?