Title

Sunday dinner with Jesus : toward a more sacramental spirituality.

Date of Award

5-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

The celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion is an important part of the Methodist tradition. However, the role the Sacrament plays in the life of United Methodists today is diverse. For some, Holy Communion is valued as a subjective and private moment with Jesus Christ. For others, the Sacrament holds objective value as a means of grace outside of one's personal experience. Often, the way that Communion is meaningful affects one's opinion of how often it should be celebrated. My own spiritual journey has indicated that it is possible to have one's understanding of the Sacrament broadened and for the role Communion plays in one's spiritual life changed. In this paper, I develop a distinction between the ways that Holy Communion is meaningful to individual Christians and draw connections between the understanding of Communion and one's sacramental practice. This paper tells the story of my project that was modeled on three aspects of my own sacramental transformation: broadened understanding, increased frequency of reception and peer reflection. The goal was to observe whether transformation might occur to the ways that Holy Communion was understood and experienced by the participants. During the Season of Lent 2013, the people of Perry First United Methodist Church in Perry, NY were invited to receive Holy Communion weekly and to hear a series of principally narrative sermons on the Sacrament. A representative group of seven individuals was recruited to participate in a weekly reflection on the experience. The results showed that many participants, from the congregation and the Study Group, exhibited a transformation in the ways that Holy Communion was experienced especially in regards to the corporate nature of the Sacrament and the objective meaning attributed to its celebration.