Saturday, July 23, 2016

Community, Communion, and a Vision of Zion

     This blog post is part two of my Community of Christ World Conference Impressions.  To read the first part of this blog series see here.

     This post is going to center on the most spiritually uplifting part of the conference that I personally attended.  This session was the Sunday Communion Service.  Videos have been added of the service for those who wish to watch them.  At the service there was a large group of tables with bread and grape juice set up on the stage at the front.  The sermon was done by the Presiding Evangelist David Brock.  This Sermon I think helps to explain the idea of what the Sacrament means in the Community of Christ. In the LDS church it is a renewal of baptismal covenants and a demonstration of the willingness to take upon oneself the name of Christ.  The Sacrament in the Utah Mormon tradition is to be taken by those who are worthy to receive of the emblems.  Both the Community of Christ and LDS church believe the emblems of the sacrament to be a representation of Christ's body and blood. The sacrament in the Community of Christ from the little that I have observed appears to represent a uniting of the church as being one as a body in Christ.  It is viewed as a act of reconciliation with one another that promotes a oneness in the diversity and sometimes fragmentation that individuals within the local and global community can have.  David Brock says if much better than I can, here is the Communion Service Sermon below.

      Before the passing of the communion there was a Reflection on the Communion Emblems.  This video gives an artistic as well as unifying view of what the Sacrament represents to those gathered. The communion table in the Community of Christ/RLDS tradition is an open and welcoming table for all who want to come into Christ's peace and be a part of the community of believers.  This is an open communion, members and non-members can partake of the emblems.  A video on the reflections of the communion is below.

      After the Reflections on the Communion Emblems, the part of the service that I found to be the most profound was when the communion sacrament was passed to the congregation.  What I found particularly moving was the diversity of people who passed the communion.  The Sacrament was broken by the leadership of the church.  From there it was passed by a large and diverse group of people.  The people who passed the emblems were both men and women, they represented many different races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, dress, and sexuality.  While they passed the communion the congregation sang hymns of unity, oneness, and justice.  The Pacific Mission Choir also provided a ministry of music during the service.  It truly was profound in the symbolism of community and equality that it gave.  For me personally it seemed to represent a vision of what Zion would be like.  It was an incredible experience and one that is hard to describe.  It truly was a different experience from the sacrament experiences I had in the LDS church, although profound in its own way.  I saw a divine mission in the service that I participated in and a vision that Zion could actually be a possibility.  The service seemed to represent a vision of Zion where differences in beliefs, dress, race, culture, sexuality, and gender identities are respected and expressed authentically. Zion seemed to me then to be a place where everyone is held together by the spirit of community, equality, and selflessness that would pervade a Zion like society.  I cannot adequately described what I felt and experienced at that time.  I never knew a religious experience could feel and be presented in this particular way. It was a stark contrast to my previous experiences in the LDS church and actually changed the ways I view spirituality and my relationship with the possibility of God's existence.
       The music was provided by the Pacific Mission Field Choir. Here is a video of some of the singing that was provided by this choir during the passing of the emblems.


      I hope you enjoyed this blog post and my representation of this service. I tried to make it authentic to my experiences knowing that others may have felt and experienced things differently than what I had.  This may be my last post for a while on my experiences in conference and in general.  My schooling is about to start again and will probably be one of the craziest semesters I will be experiencing so far.  Hopefully I can post something during the upcoming semester.  Thank you everyone who has been reading my blog since I came out more than three years ago.  It truly has been a roller coaster of emotions and experiences.  I appreciate you all joining me on this journey.  

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