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Communion in Commandery
COMMUNION IN COMMANDERY
Sir Knight David L. Trimbur, B.A., M/Div.
Only a year old as a Knight Templar and Prelate during this
first year. I experienced both shock and privilege. Some of you 'old Prelates' may chuckle at the things they failed to tell me when investing me with the office I was honored with. Thus I discovered the administration of the oath and the Prelates address in the Order of the Temple led to some long sessions before the practice mirror. Then I was to plan, coordinate and direct Easter, Ascension and Christmas worship for open meetings! With thanksgiv-ing I was proffered much encouragement and help from my new friends in Commandery. Of course, there also came the 'we never did it that way before' counsel. What wonderful, forgiving and patient Knights I found!
In the course of the year I was requested in both Chapter and Commandery to lead a Christian Communion serve as worship experi-ences. May I please relate to you why I have declined these well-meaning and sincere requests. My purpose in writing is to stimulate discussion among the York bodies and perhaps through feedback to learn from my brothers and be better equipped to be a better Prelate and Knight of the Order.
There are three reasons why I presently feel Communion is inappropriate in any York body. (Ministers are devoted to thinking and speaking in three points.) I am open to suggestions and always remain resolute to be flexible in my opinions when further enlightened by reason and truth. I recognize that some members will agree and others disagree with my position and I am willing to change. I do know that in the Order of the Temple of the Command-ery there is a similarity to Communion in one aspect of the ritual. I see it as a beautiful likeness, but not equating Communion, as I understand it.
First, we are not a Church, though we are religious men and in Commandery must give allegiance to Christ as Savior. There are those who believe that by whatever name you give it Communion, Lord's Supper, Mass, or Eucharist it is a rite that belongs exclusively to the Church. I try to be considerate of Christians who may hold to that conviction.
Secondly, we are a varied body of men with widely divergent theological understandings of Communion. Centuries of interpreta-tion and tradition has shaped very contrasting beliefs as to what Communion is, what transpire during Communion and how it should be administered. We must respect those differences and not impose our convictions on others. I will readily admit that this one worship rite of Christianity should be the most unifying event and yet is the very one that has so divided us into various denominations throughout Church history. That may be sad, but it is reality. Some view Communion as an actual transformation of bread and wine into the Body of Christ, conveying grace. Others believe that there is no change in the elements, but a transformation in the heart of the participant by faith. Then many see no transformation at all, but only symbolic remembrance of His sacrifice. You can see the difficulty of observing Communion in a divergent body such as ours.
Lastly, if the service is conducted as open meetings, we may be misunderstood by non-members as to our purpose as a fraternal brotherhood. One of the harshest criticism of York Rite and even Masonry by the uninformed is that members may substitute our fraternity for the Church and even seek spiritual salvation by means of membership in it. We know that is not true and is never taught or even implied, but the error may be projected if public or private Communion Service being observed. This can only serve to aggravate further confusion and opposition regarding our fellow-ship.
This writer is wanting to serve his new friends well as Prelate and yet not divisive or offensive to the members who come from other persuasions. Others can help me with counsel and I welcome any response that may illuminate me on this subject. Especially would I like to know if other Prelates have had experience with requests such as this. As the Apostle Paul summed up his dissertation regarding divisiveness in the Corinthian church over class distinction, abuse of the Lord's Supper and gifts of the Spirit, '. . . but all things should be done decently and in order.' 1 Corinthians 14:40, NRSV.
Sir Knight David L. Trimbur, B.A., M/Div is a member of Trinity Commandery No. 8, Alexandria, Louisiana and resides at 2504 Â½ Marye St., Alexandria, LA 71301.
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