Applesauce Communion and Critical Thinking

This months edition of the Lutheran magazine (February 2012) provided some thought-provoking tidbits.

APPLESAUCE COMMUNION

When I first saw the title, I thought, “Oh God… can this be as bad as the Dr. Seuss liturgy highlighted last month?” (You can check that one out for yourself in the January 2012 issue). Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by the article and the issue it raised.

The author, Pastor Janelle Hooper, describes her experience bringing communion to an elderly woman in a nursing home in which she had to mix the host pieces with applesauce so that the woman would be able to swallow it. While I know some people who would be appalled by such a practice, I was quite open to the idea.

Pastor Hooper displayed the ability to adapt to a specific person’s need in a specific situation, and acted out of love. This, I believe, is the key difference between offering communion with applesauce for this woman and advertising “APPLESAUCE EUCHARIST – COME HUNGRY LEAVE HAPPY” for a Sunday. She was not trying to entice more members or be a “hip” pastor–she was merely making Christ present in that circumstance for someone in a way that they could take him.

“CRITICAL THINKING”

I found this among the Letters to the Editor:

[For the Presiding Bishop] to equate the Dream Act with biblical hospitality shows that many parts of the ELCA are thinking with their hearts only, and not also critically with their heads. The U.S. is being invaded, albeit a slow invasion, by criminal trespassers. I am uncertain that God commanded his people to welcome invaders. (emphasis mine)

What the heck is wrong with thinking with the heart? We have too much thinking with the head these days. Taking care of our neighbor “does not compute” because it does not serve our own interests or increase our profits. How presumptuous to tell God, “I see what you’re getting at, but I don’t think you really understand our situation down here,” as if God doesn’t know full well what our situation is. Are you trying to tell me that God is ignorant and that we know better?

Maybe, in the Bible, God didn’t specifically command us to welcome “invaders” (who in this case are more like refugees)–I’d have to really buckle-down in Bibleworks to search for that occurrence. But we are commanded to love the alien among us, treat them like citizens, and to love our enemies. I would rather have God tell me, “How dare you love too much” than “How dare you withhold your love.”

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Author: Pastor Ken

Ken Ranos serves as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

5 thoughts on “Applesauce Communion and Critical Thinking”

  1. Quite funny that the objection was about “thinking with their hearts”! I understand what they mean to say….but putting our minds into our hearts is a crucial spiritual goal! I’m glad this lady was able to take communion and was not rejected from the “chalice” because of her physical/health issues.

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