While at the bookstore, I picked up a book to look at called, In remembrance of Me: A Manual on Observing the Lord's Supper, by Jim Henry. I figured this represented an "Evangelical" take on the subject, and I was curious; although when I realized he was former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, his approach was no surprise.
As a rule, I don't offer much criticism of other Christian bodies; not because I don't see the differences, and their importance, but because I just don't care to do that. Its easy to take shots, and I doubt my critiquing other religious bodies does much to win them to the Catholic Faith. So what follows I do not mean to be criticism, or worse, mockery.
Mr. Henry starts out by acknowledging something interesting -- something I had felt during my years as an Evangelical -- that there is something odd about celebrating the Lord's Supper so infrequently. Now, my guess is that was to cut a wide path away from the Catholics, and the Catholic-like churches, but I really don't know. For whatever reason -- I will put it down to an irenic spirit -- Mr. Henry does not get into all that. And he says, as a pastor, he felt he should have communion more often.
Then he gives a rather brief "theology" of the Lord's Supper; I note the brevity, considering the way he emphasizes the importance of this "symbol." Here again, I note he avoids getting into polemics, although he acknowledges how "some Christians" believe it is a sacrament, but others -- for whom he spoke -- did not. He managed to sneak in a quote by St. Augustine, which takes a certain amount of brass, but I think Mr. Henry meant well! (And in fairness, many Protestants believe Augustine would agree with them on these things, rather than the Catholic Church; of course, I disagree!)
So then he talks about the basics, and describes the standard way Evangelicals usually celebrate communion: with trays of pieces of bread and little cups of grape juice, either passed down the aisles, or at stations where you can go. The point of his book, of course, is to make it easy for other Evangelical pastors to do as he has done, and emphasize communion more.
The latter half of his short book has a series of plans for communion services; and this is what I found interesting: the need (so it appeared), to "jazz up" the communion service, to make it "relevant," if it was going to be offered a lot more frequently. (FYI, his more frequent was to go from quarterly to once a month; when I was in the Assemblies of God, they did it every month.) I sympathize with him; the basic service he described was so sparse (and so it was in my Evangelical days) that it did seem unable to bear the "great" symbolic weight he argues it has.
(I wondered if he'd do any borrowing from Catholic ritual; he did not, which I think was right. He did, however, borrow what I think was something Anglican, although he didn't say so. Actually, each of his plans was submitted by various pastors, so that one was probably from a "low Anglican.")
But here is what I found really interesting: several times, it seemed as if there was a lot of effort, in the plans, to "bring it alive" and "give it meaning": "pass out nails to people," or this one -- this'll have you drop out of your Lazyboy: "have someone dressed as the Lord enter the church, walk around, touch people on the shoulder, and then leave, silently"!*
Did you react as I did? I was thinking, "this guy wants to make Jesus present!"
My other thought, a little more polemical, was: "okay, you want to prepare a 'manual' for celebrating the Eucharist (he used the word) -- why not see if such things already exist? Why not find out how the early Church did it . . ."
Well, I can easily speculate, but I would rather not; by why not look at St. Justin Martyr and the Didache? I don't assume he doesn't know about them; and I assume the man has decided these things are not inconsistent with his Baptist beliefs . . . anyway, it was curious.
*My quotes are from memory, and approximate, to be fair to him.)