First there was the Clown Eucharist from Trinity Church, Wall Street, NYC. Now comes this latest bit of folly from the Episcopal (TEC) Diocese of Pittsburgh. I know the link will go away once the event is over, so I have copied the relevant text and graphics here:
With brains in your head and feet in your shoes
Please come to Calvary from any direction you choose.
Friday, October 22 will be the day.
Fun is waiting, so get on your way.
We'll have a light supper and share together
A little Seuss fun, no matter the weather.
A movie, and popcorn, and stories, too.
We'll finish with a Seusscharist designed just for you.
Five thirty is the time that we will start.
We know you will join us, if you are smart.
Weezie is the one that you should call
She'll take reservations for family, friends and all.
412-661-0120, ext. 40
Age is no limit, bottom or top.
We know that our gathering won't be a flop.
Have any questions you'd like to ask?
Just call Adele. She's up to the task.
412-661-0120, ext. 16
Calvary Episcopal Church
315 Shady Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15206
Now, before someone calls me a GRINCH for casting aspersions on this program, let me be clear about my reasoning. The Eucharist is to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ's death, whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, until He comes again. That is its message, and that is the meaning. It needs no other metaphor. Dressing it up in other garb can only obscure—not enhance—its message and its meaning.
The concept of a sacrilege teaches us that "sacred objects are not to be treated in the same way as other objects." That's the point of the matter. And no, this kind of display (Clown Eucharists and Seusscarists) isn't what the Apostle Paul means when he calls the preaching of the Gospel foolishness in I Corinthians. Even though C.S. Lewis does a wonderful job of symbolizing the atoning death of Christ in Aslan's death in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I would not be in favor of a Narnia Eucharist either. (And neither would C.S. Lewis!)
"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup" (I Corinthians 11:27-28). Literally interpreted, this text means that we should not approach the Eucharist with impure motives or unconfessed sins against God and our neighbor, thereby having little regard for the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But does it not also mean that, when it comes to the Eucharist, we shouldn't be clowning around? We are dealing with holy things in the Eucharist, when God in the flesh died for the sins of humankind. I can state it no better than the Book of Common Prayer:
Beloved in the Lord: Our Savior Christ, on the night before
he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and
Blood as a sign and pledge of his love, for the continual
remembrance of the sacrifice of his death, and for a spiritual
sharing in his risen life. For in these holy Mysteries we are
made one with Christ, and Christ with us; we are made one
body in him, and members one of another.
Having in mind, therefore, his great love for us, and in
obedience to his command, his Church renders to Almighty
God our heavenly Father never ending thanks for the
creation of the world, for his continual providence over us,
for his love for all mankind, and for the redemption of the
world by our Savior Christ, who took upon himself our flesh,
and humbled himself even to death on the cross, that he
might make us the children of God by the power of the Holy
Spirit, and exalt us to everlasting life.
But if we are to share rightly in the celebration of those holy
Mysteries, and be nourished by that spiritual Food, we must
remember the dignity of that holy Sacrament. I therefore call
upon you to consider how Saint Paul exhorts all persons to
prepare themselves carefully before eating of that Bread and
drinking of that Cup.
For, as the benefit is great, if with penitent hearts and living
faith we receive the holy Sacrament, so is the danger great, if
we receive it improperly, not recognizing the Lord's Body.
Judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord.
Examine your lives and conduct by the rule of God’s
commandments, that you may perceive wherein you have
offended in what you have done or left undone, whether in
thought, word, or deed. And acknowledge your sins before
Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life, being
ready to make restitution for all injuries and wrongs done by
you to others; and also being ready to forgive those who have
offended you, in order that you yourselves may be forgiven.
And then, being reconciled with one another, come to the
banquet of that most heavenly Food.
And if, in your preparation, you need help and counsel, then
go and open your grief to a discreet and understanding priest,
and confess your sins, that you may receive the benefit of
absolution, and spiritual counsel and advice; to the removal
of scruple and doubt, the assurance of pardon, and the
strengthening of your faith.
To Christ our Lord who loves us, and washed us in his own
blood, and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God
and Father, to him be glory in the Church evermore. Through
him let us offer continually the sacrifice of praise, which is
our bounden duty and service, and, with faith in him, come
boldly before the throne of grace [and humbly confess our
sins to Almighty God]. (BCP, 1979, p. 316)
Now, who wants to clown around with that?