Free & Fit - Holy Communion & Fitness - by Tim Cheux

Free & Fit - Holy Communion & Fitness by Tim Cheux

“Exploring the Possible relationships between Christian Worship (Holy Communion) and Modern Spiritual Practices (Exercise & Fitness Routines).”




Introduction - What is Christian Worship? What is Fitness?

What does it mean to be a Christian? It's about a person. Nicky Gumble the founder of the Christian introductory course Alpha describes Christianity being about a relationship with Jesus Christ (Gumble, 2015). When you think of Christianity the name of Jesus Christ immediately comes to your attention. Firstly, the human form in “Jesus Christ of History '' who was born in a small town of Nazareth and to his Mother Mary and Father Joseph. The second is quite different. The “Biblical Christ '' is referencing the Jesus whose birth we celebrate via conception of the Holy Spirit and his resurrection at Easter also by the power of the Holy Spirit (Borg, 1999).


Contrastingly, Jesus may also be known as the Jesus Christ you know personally via relationship spiritually through Prayer, Meditation, Reading the Bible, Baptism and Holy Communion. In the context of the personal relationship we learn more about who Jesus is, what makes him happy, what makes him sad and what makes him accessible and appealing to us in the 21st century today (N.T. Wright, 1999.)


Outside of conventional Christianity, perhaps inside a Church or outside in the mission field, we begin to see less religious practices, through fresh expressions of Church in Music and the Arts or Fitness and Sports Ministry, and more Spiritual than Religious influences. In a modern context we might think about models of sustainability and spirituality from which Christianity is more relatable through the eyes of modern day culture in a more secular and consumerist society than the Jesus of history could relate to.


People of the modern world who sympathies with Christianity are more inclined today to place their trust and faith in something bigger than themselves and who they are (a higher being, the concept of heaven or the potential that a white bearded Christian God could exist). In contrast to something bigger such as Christianity atheists and a growing population of non-Christian people would rather believe in something smaller than who they are (the mall, shopping centre, car, science, technology or economic and weather predictions) the differences are quite stark Both culturally and religiously (Carroll, 2006.)


A Barna Group study called, “Designing Worship Spaces with Millennials in Mind” established that the youth of today are not necessarily looking for a modern day experience, but would much rather find a traditional Church building! So then even the more secular people of today are not attracted to secular or consumeristic Worship “if it isn’t about hipper worship bands or even the nonconventional church buildings! (Fameology, 2015).”


The study found out that 67 percent of younger people prefer a quiet church more than loud acoustic guitar types! Even more; 67 percent said classic is more ideal than hipster and 77 percent chose a sanctuary over an auditorium (Fameology, 2015).


The liturgists Professor at General Theological Seminary, Doctor Reverend Kevin Moroney, highlights four ways in which Christians can define the practice of Worship. Moroney calls them his “Maxims” which are Theological, Communal, Spiritual and Evangelical concepts. These four Maxims form the basis from which we can view Christian Worship; the basic concept of believing in the Biblical and historical Jesus Christ from where a personal relationship is made possible. The word “Worship” comes from the olde English “weorthscipe “an acknowledgement of worth (Moroney, 2020). The purpose of this paper is to explore the four Maxims of Christian Worship and to look specifically at how the embodiment of Christian Worship can be practiced in a religious context through Prayer, Liturgy and Holy Communion through Spiritual Exercises or practices such as a fitness workout or exercise routine (Moroney, 2020).


What is Fitness? When teaching Physical Education at High School level in England one question teachers ask is what are you fit for? The specific goal, purpose and type of training that you choose determines your ability to be fit for your chosen event or activity. The ultimate aim of any fitness activity is to develop a better level of all round wholeness and a healthier lifestyle. The World Health Organization's definition of health is the physical, mental and social well-being of a whole person.


Fitness forms a large part of that, but in some way it does so spirituality, not just physically, mentally or socially. So whether you believe in a higher being, a higher power or a person called Jesus your spiritual fitness may be an area that you are neglecting and need to address. In the message translation of Isaiah 9:6 in the Bible Jesus is described as ”Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.” This paper will explore how we all need to experience Christian Worship and the Prince of Wholeness through Fitness and Holy Communion.


The main theme of our Primary Research will be on the relationship between Holy Communion and Fitness. The fundamental and foundational knowledge of Christian Worship has been defined in our introduction and liturgy review. However, the more specific term Holy Communion needs to be defined.


“In communion, we do remember the saving work God has already done in the world and is doing today. And we anticipate God’s future for the world and all creation. We’re partners with God in creating this future. We are strengthened and transformed by the presence of Christ in the bread and wine to respond to God’s love by loving God and others (Ask The UMC, United Methodist Church Ministry, 2016).”


The term Holy Eucharist is the sacramental practice and liturgical service from which Holy Communion draws its religious reference, but will not take the title or theme of this paper. Likewise, sport is referenced in our research questions. However, after clarification on the type of physical that would be best practiced with Holy Communion, silent and contemplative spiritual focused fitness activities, sport was deemed too competitive and would distract from the religious practice of Holy Communion.


Methodology - Respondents and Research Questions

For each of our selected respondents they each represent one or more of the four “Moroney Maxims” of Christian Worship. Each respondent has a background or experience in Theology, Communal, Spiritual and Evangelical Christian Worship. Furthermore, the participants represent a part of the practice of Holy Communion, receiving or distributing, and Fitness, as a participant, professional or spectator.


Research Question One reads as follows: Jesus said “This is my Body, which will be given up for you.” How does the practice of Sports (Fitness) and the Eucharist (Holy Communion) fulfill this promise of Jesus? Please explain with specific reference to the spiritual practice of sharing Holy Communion {Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25).


The context of question one is to establish the relationship between Holy Communion and Fitness; to see if the two have potential compatibility and to learn about different theological, communal, spiritual and evangelical Christian Worship perspectives from the respondents.


The second research question two reads as follows: Paul said “Do you know that in a race all the runners race, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9.24). How does partaking in the Eucharist relate to partaking in sports? How can we justly worship Jesus and not worship Sports.

Our second question begins to explore the differences between Holy Communion and Fitness and to identify any reasons why somebody would not want to explore participating in such a religious and spiritual service. Question three goes further and explores any opposition to sports.

The third research question reads as follows: In Spiritual practices of the Eucharist silence is often kept in respect of the preparation of the Feast as the presiding Christian leader shares the meal with its congregants. How can the setting of Sports, and especially competitive spectator sports, honor and respect this ancient religious tradition and not distract people from the core theme of the Body and the Blood (Bread and wine).


The opposition to Sports and Holy Communion is evident in 1 Timothy 4:8 when Paul states that Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.


Therefore, it is imperative to ask questions about the possibility of combining sport or fitness with Holy Communion to ensure it does not minimise or interrupt the religious sacrament of Holy Communion. With this in mind questions four and five were written to establish if respondents had experience or ideas of participating in Fitness and Holy Communion. Question four explores these potential examples and seeks for respondents to share their experience.


Research question four reads as follows: “What practices / formats are used in your sports context to share the Eucharist? Have you experienced certain spiritual services which have worked better than others at your services? Please give specific examples you have tried in your response.”

Without much primary research available on the practice of Holy Communion and Sport or Fitness question four looks to gather essential data about people who have successfully completed the process of participating in eating the bread and the wine before or after taking part in physical exercise. Furthemore, question five seeks to establish any advice that respondents or participants would give to anyone looking to start a new Holy Communion and Fitness Worship service (Refer to appendices for references to both questions and answers).

Research question five reads as follows:What advice and experiences would you want to share with somebody starting out a new Sports and Eucharist style worship service. What would you encourage them to adopt or not to attempt whilst planning their worship service. Please give specific examples you have tried in your response.”


The compatibility of breaking bread, drinking wine, participating in physical activity whilst perspiring, with endorphins flowing and communal fellowship time together may not seem a natural relationship to form. Therefore, it is imperative to analyse these research questions carefully, review the content of the answers and to construct further research recommendations whilst asking God and neighbor for answers to our rather complex questions

.

Analysis and Context Setting

Patrick Dunne, a first aid responder and medic from New York City defines communion and sports as both representing fellowship. Fellowship with God and fellowship with neighbors. Dunne explains that “Communion is a form of fellowship. We are fellowshiping with Jesus and taking him into our lives. This is an intimate act of fellowship. Sport is an act of fellowship. We are becoming one body as a team to obtain a goal - to win at said sport (Dunne, 2020)”.

This is contrasted through a different similarity drawn by Pastor Steve Svoboda’s response who explains that communion represents Jesus sacrifice, that he died so we could live in eternity with him and that in sports its not dissimilar that team mates sacrifice their bodies for their teammates and the greater objective to achieve their mutually agreed sports goals. Pastor Steve explains “Jesus sacrificed his body so we could have life...in sports, we at times put our bodies on the line for the sake of our team & getting the ‘win’ (Svoboda, 2020). This is further supported by Doctor Greg Linville who places the importance of sharing God’s grace and sacrifice together through communion and fellowship together with Jesus in sport. “I believe each sporting/exercising activity for disciples of Jesus is to be engaged in with full communion with Jesus, and be offerings of praise to Him for His amazing love and grace (Linville, 2020).


Pastor Lena Warren brings to light the reality that communion is not void of the physical, that in fact by receiving the physical bread element of communion you are receiving Christ's body, then the physical bread comes apart of your body and likewise your body becomes the body of Christ too. Warren states that “in Communion the body of Christ consumes the body of Christ and becomes that broken body in the world.” Warren goes further to see that by using the body, which God has given to us, it enables us to use the gifts we have been given to elevate the Holiness of God's creation. Warren affirms this by stating that “pure Sport, exemplified in the ideals of the Olympics, canbe about the elevation of the body - the incredible holiness of something so ordinary, something so frail, something so ever changing of what the body can be has connections to the Eucharist (Warren, 2020).”


Pastor Abi Oriowo supports Warren's sentiments with the use of our bodies exceeding expectations and building upon previous participation, training and developing through Christ's strength. Oriowo declares that “when engaging in sports, the knowledge of my union with Christ propels me to believe that my body, my body in union with Christ, to be able to do all things, run the extra mile, lift that extra weight and complete that additional push up (Oriowo, 2020).”


Having identified some similarities between Holy Communion and Fitness or Sports we begin to see in question two the differences. Patrick Dunne immediately identifies the common misconception with sports, that it is not an act of Worship, but an act of faith. Dunne explains that by partaking in communion we recommit ourselves to Jesus. “In sports we commit ourselves to accomplish the goal at hand. The difference? We worship Jesus and not sport! (Dunne, 2020).” However, Pastor Steve Svoboda identifies that this is indeed all optional. That we have a decision to make, that we can partake in sports for our own gain or we can participate in sport as a form of Worship unto the Lord (Svoboda, 2020). That it is more of a perspective, a decision that we choose whether by playing sports we are worshipping God. Doctor Greg Linville goes further to say that we are prone to idol worship. That at least by taking part in the Eucharist before or after participating in physical activity we will be able to shift our sin nature away from worshipping sport and that we can worship the only one who is worthy to be praised, our Lord God Almighty (Linville, 2020).


Pastor Lena Warren goes further to state that sport can be dehumanising, perhaps material and negatively objective. The commodification of the body within sport and the rise of materialism, which has nothing to do with valuing the material but rather making the material world disposable for our pleasure of sport placed the on body, the holy creation made by God and our holiness is a misrepresentation of Christ in a negative way (Warren, 2020). Instead, in the practice of receiving Holy communion Warren believes that Jesus reminds us that this one, this body, this human being is valuable. Pastor Abi Oriowo believes both partaking in sport and worshipping God are possible as long as we remain in union with Christ, one body and one bread. That through Christ all things are possible and in the body, in union with Christ, when we are engaging in sports we gather in God's presence and for God's glory.


In response to our third question Patrick Dunne explains that both silence and loud celebrations can be heard in response to the partaking in communion and sports and the outcome of the process can end in celebration. In silence Dunne (2020) states “in communion silence is a must to respect our action unto our Lord, Jesus Christ. Silence in sport is done in respect to the athlete.” Contrastingly, the celebration is heard at the end of the communion service similar to that of a goal or touch down being scored as a shout of Praise, cries of Hallelujah and Amen can be heard in the sanctuary (dependent upon tradition). Pastor Steve Svoboda believes that the respect of religious practice can be kept in preparation for sports events. Pastor Svoboda (2020) explains this can happen “both in private (the locker room) in preparation & in public (the field/gym) moments before the event/game.” Doctor Linville suggests that this would be possible through prayer. Linville (2020) states that “the best way would be to have a pre/post sporting activity of kneeling in silence to commune with the Lord.


Interestingly Pastor Lena Warren states that it is also possible, much like previously stated by Patrick Dunne, that it's possible to celebrate the communion service with music. Warren (2020) states that in the Lutheran tradition, there is very little silence around the meal. Instead, there is singing and sometimes dancing. The important thing is to do special things as a community together to prepare for the feast.” However, Pastor Abi Oriowo disagrees stating that it may be “difficult just because the sports setting is often high energy with crowds encouraged to cheer enthusiastically (and loudly) rather than be quiet and reverent (Oriowo, 2020)”


Questions four and five were not all answered by every respondent. Question four especially created difficulty for people to provide specific examples of when they had experienced Holy Communion and Fitness. However, Doctor Greg Linville did state that he supports the practice stating that he would “advocate for a worship service that replaces music/singing with sporting/exercising and surround that with a call to worship, scripture reading, prayer, preaching, sharing, benediction etc (Linville, 2020). Furthermore, Pastor Steve Svoboda describes his own experience and “finds running very spiritual... it is me on my own with my creator.” That again if we are to combine Holy Communion and Fitness that it matters about our perspective, our decision and our mindset towards worshipping God whilst exercising. Patrick Dunne adds that before or after the sporting or fitness activity you can focus on being able to participate actively through communion and sport together actively celebrating that you were able to play a game and you received the body of Christ (Dunne, 2020).


Finally, question five brought a focus on outward worship and appreciation of God through sport from Pastor Abi Oriowo; she states that as participants workout, the pleasure they feel is both from God and it also pleases God (Oriowo, 2020). Patrick Dunne stresses the importance of our focus as well that at the minimum prayer and worship should take place before or after the sporting or fitness event. Pastor Steve Svoboda also stresses the importance of Praise and Worship.


Svoboda (2020) suggests before every activity, take a few moments to wait quietly before the Lord ...spending time in prayer & worship, presenting the moments ahead to God in an act of worship.”

In closing Doctor Greg Linville provides an excellent practical idea for further research which will include in our research findings, but that we should not be bound by tradition, explore and be creative in sensing how to practice Holy Communion and Fitness, but at the same time not be restricted to only being creative and allowing traditional roles for sports and communion to happen, but perhaps on the same day with the sharing of bread and wine taking place after the sporting event has taken place (Linville, 2020).


Conclusions

Holy Communion and Fitness are not traditional or immediately compatible partners. The tradition of sharing Holy Communion is focused on Jesus, an exclusive personal relationship and intimate practice of Praise and Worship. Sports and Fitness can be idol worship, elevating the self or activity above Jesus thus removing the possibility of worship.


However, if practised by making a conscious decision, with accountability, community and prayer sports and fitness can be practised reverently without conflict to the practice of Worship. It can become the practice of spiritual adoration and holy reflections upon Jesus Christ intwinning the physical body and blood with the physical body and practice of honoring God to use the body God has given you to worship God. That in union with Christ any form of participation in sports and fitness can be a practice of spiritual adoration, Praise and Worship and Prayer if practised safely, securly and in community with other like minded Christians.



Recommendations for Further Research

In response to question five Doctor Greg Linville described some excellent suggestions for how Holy Communion and Fitness could be practised. It is in these areas that further research and study should be completed to gain further insight into how a religious service could be practised alongside a sports or fitness based activity. Linville (2020) made the following four suggestions which the author of this paper approves for further research.


1. Don't be bound by tradition...dream, create, lead...create new models.


2. Don't be bound by "the way it's always been done."


3. Go in confidence that the traditional formal eucharist (partaking of bread & wine/juice) is great and should be partaken in but the spirit of the eucharist can open many new ways of engagement...such as expanding the bread & wine/juice to a full meal and extended time of fellowship, teaching, prayer.


4. Also perhaps an evening/afternoon begins with a sporting/exercise activity and then proceeds with a "Lord's supper" communion (Linville, 2020).


Bibliography

Borg, Marcus, and Wright, N.T. (2007), “The Meaning of Jesus”, San Francisco: HarperOne.


Carroll, John, (2006), sited in “Contemplation in Action”, produced by Richard Rohr, The Crossroad Publishing Company


Gumble, Nicky, (2015), “Why Jesus - 5 Day Daily Devotional Reading Plan”, “YouVersion” Bible App, Alpha International Publishing.


Fameology (2015), “Hillsong NYC The Church on Millenials Hilltop,” Fameology website. Accessed December 2020: Article link here: http://fameology.net/2015/05/05/hillsong-nyc-the-church-on-millennials-hilltop/


Moroney, Dr. Rev. Kevin, (2020), “Christian Worship - Purpose Theology Maxims, Lecture slides from an Introduction to Christian Worship


United Methodist Church ASK Ministry (2016), Title of Article “Is communion simply a ritual of remembrance”, UMC Ministries. Accessed December 2020: Article link here: Is communion simply a ritual of remembrance? | The United Methodist Church (umc.org)



Appendices Secondary Research

Questions - Reference to Appendices Below


1. Jesus said “This is my Body, which will be given up for you.” How does the practice of Sports and the Eucharist fulfill this promise of Jesus? Please explain with specific reference to the spiritual practice of sharing Holy Communion.


2. Paul said “Do you know that in a race all the runners race, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (1 Cor. 9.24). How does partaking in the Eucharist relate to partaking in sports? How can we justly worship Jesus and not worship Sports.


3. In Spiritual practices of the Eucharist silence is often kept in respect of the preparation of the Feast as the presiding Christian leader shares the meal with its congregants. How can the setting of Sports, and especially competitive spectator sports, honor and respect this ancient religious tradition and not distract people from the core theme of the Body and the Blood (Bread and wine).


4. What practices / formats are used in your sports context to share the Eucharist? Have you experienced certain spiritual services which have worked better than others at your services? Please give specific examples you have tried in your response.


5. What advice and experiences would you want to share with somebody starting out a new Sports and Eucharist style worship service. What would you encourage them to adopt or not to attempt whilst planning their worship service. Please give specific examples you have tried in your response.


Respondents Answers


Appendix: Respondent 1 - Patrick Dunne - Communal Reference for Moroney Maxim Respondent - Medic, First Aider and Lay Christian Leader from New York City


1. Communion is a form of fellowship.We are fellowshiping with Jesus and taking him into our lives. This is an intimate act of fellowship. Sport is an act of fellowship we are becoming one body as a team to obtain a goal - to win at said sport. Communion is the act of us and God becoming one body.


2. Sports is not an act of worship, it is an act of faith. It is a belief that we will succeed in the goal we have set. Partaking in Eucharist is an act of faith. It is a belief that we are going to "sin no more". By partaking Eurcharist we recommit ourselves to Jesus and his promise in our lives. When we partake in sports we commit yourself to accomplish the goal at hand. The difference. We worship Jesus and not sport.


3. In sports when intense competition is at play silence takes place. I think of a competitive tennis match. Silence is a must. In communion silence is a must to respect our action unto our Lord, Jesus Christ. Silence in sport is done in respect to the athlete. When communion is done, a loud rowdy worship often takes place to celebrate the action. When a sports game is done or a "goal/touchdown/home run" is made a cheer is done to celebrate the action.


4. Partaking in a eucharist before a practice/scrimmage/game sets the tone of solemn moment. After the game, no matter the outcome a worship celebration sets the tone to celebrate that you were able to play a game and you received the body of Christ.


5. To be open and to first and foremost pray and worship. If nothing else is done, a prayer and worship moment before and after the game will welcome God's presence to the field.


Respondent 2 - Pastor Steve Svoboda - Evangelical, Communal and Spiritual Reference for Moroney Maxim Respondent - Marathon Runner, Iron Man extrordinaire & New York City Care Pastor.


1. Jesus sacrificed his body so we could have life...in sports, we at times put our bodies on the line for the sake of our team & getting the ‘win’.


2. Partaking is optional in both, we are not forced into this. Instead it is a choice whether we will or not. I think as we partake in sports this is an act of worship unto the Lord.


3. Very deep question but I believe that we can do this in the lead up to the game/event... both in private (the locker room) in preparation & in public (the field/gym) moments before the event/game.


4. I find running very spiritual... it is me on my own with my creator. It is a daily decision to follow Jesus & likewise decision, will I partake in this sport today? I believe it all comes down to our decisions.


5. Before every activity, take a few moments to wait quietly before the Lord ...spending time in prayer & worship, presenting the moments ahead to God in an act of worship.


Respondent 3. Greg Linville D. Div. D. Min - Theological and Spiritual Moroney Maxim Respondent - Director of Resource Development - CSRM


1. Spiritual practice of sharing community there are two ways to partake in the eucharist, the overwhelming majority of Christendom partakes in an external form:a traditional worship service, in a traditional "church" facility; with traditional elements of bread & wine/juice (hopefully all who engage in this practice also engage in the following practice...and thus participate in both the internal and external). A decided minority partake in internal form: perhaps in a corporate worship service and facility but not with traditional elements. Whereas the first engagement would be complicated (serving the elements in the midst of a match, game, competition. the second engagement should occur every time a sports person walks on a pitch; field; court...in the words attributed to eric liddell (he never actually said them...i can tell you about my interviews with his family members/war camp friends etc.), they nonetheless are brilliant: "when I run, I feel His pleasure...and not to run would be to hold Him in contempt." I believe each sporting/exercising activity for disciples of Jesus is to be engaged in with full communion with Jesus, and be offerings of praise to Him for His amazing love and grace.

I also advocate for a worship service that replaces musical worship with athletic worship and this worship would include other traditional parts of the liturgy that would include the actual partaking of the elements


2. How does partaking in the eucharist relate to partaking in sports...how can we worship Jesus and not sport. We are so prone to idol worship. What you ask here is one of the most difficult questions to answer from the standpoint that it really comes down to our sin nature that pushes us to worship something other than Jesus. If we knew we were going to partake of the elements of the eucharist at the end of our sporting endeavors, it would at least give partial/temporary pause to the temptation to worship sport there is nothing that can replace a resolute commitment to reserve our worship for the only One Who is worthy to receive it.


3. It begins with that resolute commitment in terms of priority to schedule, including reserving the Lord's day for spiritual development and choosing spiritual formation activities over physical formation activities whenever they conflict. How can sport/competition honor practices of silence and not distract from the core theme of the eucharist. I am really not sure this is possible. Similarly, it would be difficult to practice silence in a worship service that uses music as its basis for worship. to experience silence then all other activity/noise would need to be suspended. so the best way would be to have a pre/post sporting activity of kneeling in silence to commune with the Lord


4. Specific Examples: this is extremely rare...very few have ever attempted to engage in a worship service that uses sport/exercise as the basis for worship. But, I advocate for a worship service that replaces music/singing with sporting/exercising and surround that with a call to worship, scripture reading, prayer, preaching, sharing, benediction etc.


5. Advice for those starting out a new service integrating sport/eucharist.

1. Don't be bound by tradition...dream, create, lead...create new models

2. Don't be bound by "the way it's always been done"...

3. Go in confidence that the traditional formal eucharist (partaking of bread & wine/juice) is great and should be partaken in but the spirit of the eucharist can open many new ways of engagement...such as expanding the bread & wine/juice to a full meal and extended time of fellowship, teaching, prayer. Perhaps the evening/afternoon begins with a sporting/exercise activity and then proceeds with a "Lord's supper" communion



Respondent 4 - Theological Reference Moroney Maxim Repondent - Pastor Lena Warren - Lutheran Pastor, Theologian and STM Yale Graduate.


1. One of the things that is critically important to remember is that Holy Communion isn't some spiritual practice that is devoid of the physical. In fact, it is really a physical practice with spiritual import. The incarnation of God is all about the physical and taking something as simple as bread and wine and hearing that God is present here, in this ordinary, physical thing, is a way that we remember that we see Jesus in the world in ordinary, physical ways. Then, to take communion itself — to eat the body of Christ and then to become what we have eaten — that means our own bodies become the body of Christ, too. I adapted the words of Augustine for a blessing after communion (his words are often used in the distribution of the bread, but I chose to stick with traditional Lutheran language "for you" for that) and say "Having received what you are, become what you have received."


This is a reminder that in communion the body of Christ consumes the body of Christ and becomes that broken body in the world. It is hard in the Eucharist to point to one place and say that Christ is there and there alone. But, we can very clearly say that Christ is present in the body. The physical, human body is valued as holy and worthy for the presence of the divine. Perhaps there is a link here to sports. At least sports played well, rather than commercialized sport that tends to see players' bodies as commodities, cared for because of their usefulness to score and make money. I think pure sport, that that is exemplified in the ideals of the Olympics, for instance, can be about the elevation of the body—the incredible holiness of something so ordinary, something so frail, something so ever-changing—and what that body can be has connections to the Eucharist.


2. I think our worship of sports has everything to do with the commodification of the body and the rise of materialism, which has nothing to do with valuing the material but rather making the material world disposable for our pleasure. The "Shut up and play the damn game," that sports fans often shout at players who chose to be human and speak up for a cause is a clear sign that their bodies have been devalued as simple objects (or means or machines) for the purpose of the pleasure of the viewer. This is the opposite of what sport could (and should) be and the opposite of what Jesus does. Jesus touches commodified bodies and brings healing. Jesus reminds us that this one, this body, this human being is valuable. In the Eucharist, "This is the body of Christ given for you" is about valuing the one, while also, like team sports, connecting that one to the whole community.


3. I think that silence is only one way of respecting the preparation of the Feast. In the Lutheran tradition, there is very little silence around the meal. Instead, there is singing, the setting of the table, offerings being taken, and sometimes dance (as we had recently on a Sunday). The important thing is to do special things as a community together to prepare for the feast. You could think of this much like the way we gather for Thanksgiving. Families have rituals that make gathering special. They cook together. They set the table together. They talk together. It is, to a great degree about aligning our hearts into one.


4. No answer. I don't exactly know what this "Sports & Eucharist style service" is that you are talking about, so don't feel that I can answer the last couple of questions.


5. No answer. I don't exactly know what this "Sports & Eucharist style service" is that you are talking about, so don't feel that I can answer the last couple of questions.


5. Pastor Abi - Spiritual and Pentecostal Reference Moroney Maxim Respondent - Author, Pastor Seek Church LA and formerly Seek Church New York City


1. I have always been fascinated by the Eucharist (Holy Communion), specifically after a summer spent educating myself about the historical practice of “cutting covenant”. Specifically, the term "covenant" is of Latin origin (con venire), meaning a coming together. It presupposes two or more parties who come together to make a contract, agreeing on promises, stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities.


At a very general level, the steps for cutting a covenant were as follows:

Representative - A person was chosen to represent a family, tribe or nation. The person would be of the same bloodline - It could be said that the nation was IN him. - Jesus Christ, the Word became Flesh and Dwelt among us.

Blood Sacrifice/Walk of Death - Sacrifice of an animal. The animal would be cut from top to bottom. The representatives would walk down through the blood of the animal (their clothes dripping with blood) to symbolize entering into a type of death and passing through to a new life in union together with [Infinity] - This is why during marriage the bride walks down the aisle, the groom standing at the end of the aisle with their respective families on either side of the aisle.


The Mark on the Body: Cut on the wrist, a covenant mark. Isaiah 49:16 - I have engraved you on the palm of my hands - Pierced Hands where the nails were driven.


The Exchanges:

Exchange of Robes (Identity) :

2 Corinthians 5:21 (For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [[a]endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]).


Isaiah 53: 4-6: Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.


Exchange of Name: 1 John 3: See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.


Exchange of Power/Weapons:

Ephesians 6:11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms


Isaiah 59:16-17 He saw that there was no man, And was amazed that there was no one to intercede [on behalf of truth and right]; Therefore His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His own righteousness sustained Him. For He [the Lord] put on righteousness like a coat of armor, And salvation like a helmet on His head; He put on garments of vengeance for clothing; And covered Himself with zeal [and great love for His people] as a cloak.


Exchange of the Oldest Male Child: John 3:16

Covenant Meal: The partners to the covenant would feed each other the first few bites saying “ As you are ingesting this food, you are ingesting me, you are taking me into your life”. The typical food was bread symbolic of flesh , and the typical drink was the fruit of the vine, symbolic of blood.


With that said, the practice of the Eucharist brings to remembrance the fact that under the new covenant Christ partook of all the steps of the covenant both with me and as me. He is God and Man, the very strength of the covenant dictating that I now have the identity of “Son of God”. When Jesus reiterates that his body was broken for us, He calls us to remember the perfect union we now have in Him with the Father. Through the practice of the Eucharist, Jesus is inviting us into an activity of the whole person, spirit, mind, emotion and body. Asking us to step into the supernatural experience of what was accomplished on the cross. Feasting on the bread and drinking the wine I imagine the weight of the cross colliding with the dimensions of my past, present and future. When engaging in sports, the knowledge of my union with Christ propels me to believe in my ability to exceed perceived limitations. I consider my body, the body in union with Christ, to be able to do all things, run that extra mile, lift that extra weight and complete that additional push up. I see my body as strong and not weak, constantly rejuvenated by the healing power that flows from the body and the blood.


The idea of a supernatural experience associated with the eucharist is not far-fetched. Some research in this area has made me aware of some Catholic saints that reportedly survived for years on nothing but the Eucharist. For example, Marthe Robin fasted from all food and drink except the Eucharist from 1930 to her death in 1981. Similarly, Teresa Neumann subsisted on no solid food but the Holy Eucharist from 1926 until her death in 1962 some 36 years later.


2. As noted above, when engaging in sports, the knowledge of my union with Christ propels me to believe in my ability to exceed perceived limitations. I consider my body, the body in union with Christ, to be able to do all things, run that extra mile, lift that extra weight and complete that additional push up. I see my body as strong and not weak, constantly rejuvenated by the healing power that flows from the body and the blood. The new covenant was more than a physical act but a spiritual accomplishment. A covenant cut in the spirit realm with Christ as both the lamb that was slain and the perfect highpriest. Partaking of communion invites me to remember my constant connection in the Spirit with Christ, drinking from the life that flows from him as branches drink from the vine. My connection with him continues even when I am engaging in sports, so that even then I experience his pleasure and his glory.


3. It might be difficult just because the sports setting is often high energy with crowds encouraged to cheer enthusiastically (and loudly) rather than be quiet and reverent.


4. No answer.


5. For me, it is important to help people see that their sports of choice can be enjoyed to the glory of God. That as they workout, the pleasure they feel is both from God and it also pleases God... worship takes place as they sweat as it were.

Love & Blessings F&F Team

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