Have you ever been invited to someone’s home for dinner, but not eaten any of the food? Only sat there and watched them eat? What purpose would that serve? That is exactly what the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses do. They invite millions of people around the world to come to the Lords Evening Meal…and watch them eat. They make sure all pass the bread and wine, yet encourage the majority not to partake.
Why is so much importance attached to holding the plate and glass and then declining to partake? This is what each attendee does, including the speaker. One of the elders hands him the emblems and then he hands it back. Perhaps some would even say that this is a clear and open rejection of the emblems. All the elders who pass the emblems to the crowd turn around and then pass them among themselves as if to make clear to all that this is what the majority should do. Admittedly, in a few Kingdom Halls the speaker or one of the other elders is of the “anointed” and does eat and drink, but this extremely rare.
Why do they do this? Is this a scriptural way to conduct the Lord’s Evening Meal? Why is it so important to hold the emblems and then decline to partake of them? What purpose does it serve? How many of you as a JW ever felt good about passing these emblems? Did any questions ever run through your mind? I know I certainly had questions. I always asked myself why do we all need to touch/pass these emblems? If we are not to partake then why does each one of us need to be there? Do we invite all those we know and make the effort to be present and then not participate? Why can’t those who will partake just raise their hands and then receive the emblems? Why do I need to touch it and then pass it along? I never understood this at all and felt something was seriously wrong.
I have invited others to attend and few did but one I remember was very perplexed by this and said it appeared to him as a “rejection ceremony”. I will never forget that. He even asked me why the speaker had to hold the emblems and then pass them back. I was beside myself because this bothered me too even though I never said anything. I had no answer for him.
There was a thread on JWnet about a guy that went to a Memorial in another town and when they passed the emblems to him he refrained from touching the glass and the plate, and they looked at him like he was insane. He said, in effect, “well, since I am not partaking I see no need to physically touch these household items”. Here is a portion of what he said below:
If you aren’t going to heaven and you don’t need to pass the glass to someone else, why take the glass?
“Why take the glass?”
I couldn’t answer that. So I didn’t. My row came up in its turn. The sister next to me—a sweet woman in her 60′s, next to another single sister in her 70′s, braced herself. The 70-something reached up to capture the wine glass . The 60-something instinctively posed her hands like she had just released a basketball. Even I held my breath during [the] arthritic transfer. Then it was my turn. But my hands stayed folded in my lap. My neighbor just stared a question mark at me, trying to nudge the glass my way without spilling the wine.
“Oh, no, I’m not anointed. I don’t partake.” The words calmly poured out of my mouth even though I could feel the eyes on me. The elder attendant tensed, [deeming] me the “dangerous kind”.
This kind sister’s face twisted into confusion—almost betrayal. I read her thought: “Why are you refusing Jesus’ shed blood?!”
But I wasn’t…anymore than anyone else here was.
And that is how I broke the ritual that night. When the unleavened bread came, I got a sidelong stink-eye just to confirm my blasphemy. And after the Memorial the sister was neither sweet nor kind, just ready to get out of that row and let me leave.
I think I saw with different eyes that night. Maybe I don’t have a respectful attitude, but I don’t see how I was out of line. I like ritual. I just don’t like hypocrisy. And passing a full glass of wine around like a masochistic AA meeting seems stupid to me.
Why not just leave the wine and bread on the table and let the anointed come up? It takes about 15 minutes to cover the whole group. Then the attendants, who have been conducting the wine the whole time, pass the glasses to each other. Who invented this stuff?
I know there are some old and infirm who can’t attend, who will have a special ceremony right in their room. Emblems and all. Pass it around, no drinking, everyone feels better.
If this is a spirit-directed practice, what spirit is it? Would God’s Holy Spirit direct us to go beyond the things written? The Memorial celebration was instituted by Christ himself and he asked all his followers to partake. Where in scripture does it indicate the practice that JW’s carry out today, namely that the vast majority do not partake?
Jesus made it very clear what his followers were to do at the Lord’s Evening Meal that he instituted. Jehovah Witnesses actually do read Christ’s instructions during the Memorial from the Bible on what they are commanded by him to do at 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NWT)
“For I received from the Lord that which I also handed on to YOU, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was going to be handed over took a loaf and, after giving thanks, he broke it and said: “This means my body which is in YOUR behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” He did likewise respecting the cup also, after he had the evening meal, saying: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, as often as YOU drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as YOU eat this loaf and drink this cup, YOU keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.”
Is this what they do? They teach it is a command for all JW’s to attend this memorial and then are told to disobey that command with what some have called a ritualistic rejection of these emblems that represent Christ blood and body that he gave to cover our sins. Right after they read Jesus’ words to “Keep doing this in remembrance of me” they are told not to do the very thing that would remind them of Jesus, namely partake. If the majority of Jehovah Witnesses are not in the New Covenant then why are they invited to this meal? Is this some kind of spectator sport that Christ instituted? Apparently the leadership of JW’s think so.
Please consider Christ words at John 6:53-58 (NWT)
“Accordingly Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Unless YOU eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, YOU have no life in yourselves. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when YOUR forefathers ate and yet died. He that feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Honestly, I feel deeply sorry for the majority of the JW’s because they have been misled and so they do not partake. They follow man and not Christ. Most of my family are still held captive in this man-made organization. I pray that they open their eyes to the truth that only Christ is the way, truth and the life. (John 14:6)
Here’s one more scripture. Notice what Jesus urges them to do:
As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. (Mat 26:26-27 HCSB) It also says “All of you” in the New World Translation! If their are two classes of Christians, those who attend but do not partake, then why didn’t Jesus ever mention this? Clearly the practice of not partaking is against Jesus command for all of his followers to partake!
Many former JW’s now realize that all true followers of Christ Jesus partake of the emblems at the Memorial of his death as he commanded. They do not follow those who go beyond what is written. They trust God’s Holy Spirit and not man to lead them. (1 John 2:27)
Over a year ago JJ wrote an article about Memorial 2012. May God bless all of you and keep you in his love on this next Memorial celebration, April 5-6, 2012.
Your brother in Christ,