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Posted By Eric Sammons On August 3, 2009 @ 2:29 pm In Sacraments,Technology | Comments Disabled
One of the bedrock doctrines of the Christian Faith is that God became man in the Incarnation. Not just “man” in the generic sense, but a specific man born as a Jew in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. He had a modest home, annoying relatives, and all the things that make up a “real life.” As Scripture says, he is like us in all things “except sin.”
The fact of the Incarnation impacts every part of our life as Christians. One of the primary things it tells us is that we are not to disdain the physical world, and in fact that God has effected our redemption through it. In other words, the physical world becomes our means to salvation. We can see this most clearly in the sacraments, when God takes humble physical objects like bread or water or oil and transforms them into something so much more and then uses them to save us. Every sacrament must also have a real human being as its minister – some sacraments require a priest, but others can be celebrated by anyone (for example, a baptism). But all sacraments require a communion of at least two people.
The importance of this physical connection can be seen in the Church’s refusal to allow the sacrament of confession to be celebrated over the phone or over the internet – the penitent and the priest must be physically present to one another for the sacrament to be valid.
I thought of all this when I saw this headline:
The article explains that this church, which prides itself on its “distributed” form of worship, now streams its worship service via the iPhone so that people can join them wherever they are. The pastor is quoted as saying, “It’s not a place you leave your community to go, it’s the gathering of community for worship, service and equipping.” So this pastor believes that simply watching a service from your phone is participating in that community’s “worship.”
Yet how does a large church gather its members together? The problem of gathering all members of a Church together for Sunday worship has actually been a problem since the first century – and is one that was solved in the first century as well. Each city was appointed a bishop to be the head of that local church. It was the bishop to whom all local decisions were referred. For example, writing in the early 2nd century, St. Ignatius of Antioch declares:
See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is[administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude[of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.
Letter to the Smyraeans
But the authority of the local bishop did not separate the local church from the universal Church; in fact, it was through the bishop that the local church was united to the rest of the universal (or “catholic”) Church. The early Church was “distributed” by the fact that each local church was in communion – through the Eucharist – with all the other local churches throughout the Roman Empire (and beyond).
If you think about it, today the Pope is the pastor of a “megaChurch” of over 1,000,000 members. While it is true that he has made his sermons and other teachings available via various technologies (including the iPhone), he understands that a true worship experience is not simply listening to him via a TV or computer or phone, but instead requires a real gathering of people in one location to celebrate the Eucharist under the guidance of a local priest who is appointed by the local bishop. This is the way the incarnational, sacramental Church worships.
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2009/08/03/anti-sacramental-christianity/
URLs in this post:
 Fla. Megachurch Brings Worship to the iPhone : http://www.christianpost.com/article/20090801/fla-megachurch-brings-worship-to-the-iphone/index.html
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