Flashmob Communion: An Experiment

July 11, 2011

About a year-and-a-half ago I wondered out loud in another blog about the possibility of some kind of flash mob communion.  I’m not trying to claim credit, but I was delighted recently when a group of clergy tried what they called a flash communion at the General Synod of the United Church of Christ.  As you can see from the video, they set up a table in the lobby of the convention center where the event was taking place, and held a communion service for anyone who wanted to participate.

I wasn’t around t participate myself, but was glad to see someone trying such things out.  I talked to Michelle Torigian, one of the pastors who helped lead it, and she said that when they had a large group gathered it worked pretty well, but when they tried to take the elements down to the lower level of the convention center and share them (in pairs, without the large group), people where much more hesitant and suspicious (“What is this?”  “Are you ordained?”).

Of course, this communion service was held in a context where pretty much everyone was a practicing Christian from the same denomination.  This was public in one sense, but in another it was within the boundaries of an a event for which people had to register (and pay).  I continue to wonder what a flash communion would need to be like if it were truly in public, in a location where people of all stripes might be present.

My own research and worship life are leading me toward the conviction that most, if not all, communion services have lost or covered over a crucial practice: a kind of worshipful sharing (not distribution) that participates in an epiphany of the realm of God.  After watching this video, I wonder even more about the possibilities for some kind of flash mob food sharing event, that does not proselytize in a pushy way, but does try to move toward something holy.  If people felt duped into participating in something that turned out to be a Christian practice, I doubt they would respond favorably.  If, however, they had a positive, spontaneous experience of sharing food and connected that with an invitation to something deeper, would that work?  Would it have something in common with some of the meals Jesus shared with people?  Could it be sacramental?  Would it be Holy Communion?

2 Responses to “Flashmob Communion: An Experiment”

  1. Just found your blog today (a friend sent me your latest post). One of the men in my congregation gathers friends for Agape meals all of the time. By the word “friends” I mean they are people he knows or has met casually. He asked me if I would celebrate Communion with a group of people here at the church. Of course I said yes, and I am amazed at how meaningful it is for people to be invited in for this. As for the project that this man and another want to do at the park near our church, I do not know what form they want it to take, but I am moved by their desire to do this, and I am looking forward to doing this with them.

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