I had the joy to participate in an online commemoration of the memorial of Christ’s death on Tuesday, March 22rd with 22 others living in four different countries.[i] I know that many of you chose to partake on the 23rd at your local Kingdom hall. Still others have decided to use April 22nd or 23rd based on the way the Jews track the occasion of the Passover. The important thing is we are all striving to obey the Lord’s command and to “keep doing this.”
For the past few months, my wife and I have been away from home. We’ve been living in a Spanish speaking country; temporary residents in every sense of the phrase. (1Pe 1:1) Because of this, no one would have missed me had I not gone to the memorial at the local Kingdom hall; so I had decided not to attend this year. Then something happened to change my mind.
Exiting my building one morning on the way to the local coffee shop, I ran into two very pleasant older brothers distributing the memorial invitation, “You Will Be with Me in Paradise”. I learned that their memorial was being held at a local conference center on the same block as my dwelling—a two-minute walk. Call their arrival at that precise moment in time serendipity or the leading of the spirit, as you like. Whatever it was, it got me to thinking and I came to realize that in my particular circumstances, I had been handed an opportunity to stand up and be counted.
There are two ways in which we can protest the conduct of the leadership of the organization without saying a word. One is to withhold our funding, and the other is by partaking.
However, there was an additional benefit to me for attending. I got a new perspective. What I have come to see, to believe, is that the Governing Body is really concerned about the growing number of partakers. Besides last and this week’s Watchtower study articles, you have the invitation itself. Does it focus on the heavenly reward? On being one with Christ? No, it focuses on the JW earthly reward for those who refuse to participate in the commemoration. This was driven home to me like never before when I observed the speaker being handed the bread and then the wine. He took it, then handed it back. A clear refusal to partake!
The talk explained the mechanism of the ransom, but not with a view to its primary focus—the gathering of the children of God through whom all creation finds happiness. (Ro 8:19-22) No, the focus was on the earthly hope per JW theology. Repeatedly, the speaker reminded the audience that only a tiny minority will partake, but for the rest of us, we are to simply observe. Thrice, he said, in so many words, that ‘probably none of you will be partaking tonight’. Much of the talk was about describing the JW vision of an earthly paradise. It was a sales pitch, plain and simple. “Don’t partake. Look at all you’d miss out on.” The speaker even tempted us with the thought of having “our dream house”, even if it took us “300 years to build.”
Unnoticed by most, if not all, was that every Scripture he used to support his idea of a paradise earth with kids frolicking with animals, and adults resting under their own vines and fig trees was taken from Isaiah. Isaiah preached a “good news” of restoration from Babylonish captivity—a return to the Jewish homeland. If this image of a paradise earth is truly the hope for 99% of all Christians, why do we have to go back to pre-Christian days to support it? Why is Judaic imagery needed? When Jesus gave us the good news of the Kingdom, why didn’t he speak of this earthly reward, at least to acknowledge that there was an alternative to the heavenly calling? These paradisaic descriptions and artist’s illustrations fairly litter our publications, yet where do we find them among the inspired writings of the first century Christians?
I think the Governing Body is getting a little desperate to keep the rank and file toeing the party line, so they’re renewing focus on the alternative hope they’ve been preaching since Judge Rutherford’s day.
Something both humorous and disturbing transpired when the emblems were passed. I was sitting in the front row of a section, so there was room to walk in front. Nevertheless, the servers simply stood at the end of the row and let each person pass the plate. When the brother next to me handed it off, I took a piece of bread and handed the plate to the fellow next to me. He must have been a newbie for he seemed flummoxed by what he was supposed to do having seen me take some bread. The server at the end of the line rushed over, perhaps worried that some unspeakable indignity was about to mar the occasion, took hold of the plate and quietly indicated that the man should simply pass it on, which he did.
This server left me alone however. It was too late. I already had the bread in hand. Perhaps seeing a senior Gringo led him to believe that I had “the right” to partake. However, they must have been uncertain, for when the wine was passed, the first server walked it down the line handing it to each person. He seemed somewhat hesitant to hand it to me at first, but I simply took it from him and drank.
After the meeting, the brother beside me—a kindly fellow about my age who hailed from the States—told me that I had flustered them because they weren’t expecting anyone to partake, and that I probably should have informed them in advance. Imagine! The purpose of passing the emblems to everyone is supposed to be to provide all the opportunity to partake should they choose. Why do the servers have to be informed ahead of time? So as not to give them a shock? Or is it to give them the opportunity to vet the partaker. The whole thing makes no sense.
It was evident to me that the brothers have an almost superstitious aversion to partaking, at least in the Latin American culture. This is nothing new. I recall one particular memorial when I was a young man preaching down here. An elderly lady, a first timer, tried to partake. As she reached for the emblem, there was a loud, collective gasp from everyone around her who was watching. Obviously embarrassed, the poor dear withdrew her hand and shrank into herself. One would have thought she had been about to commit some horrible blasphemy.
All of this made me wonder why we don’t simply ask those who wish to partake to sit at the front, like we do for baptismal candidates. That way if we find the front row empty, we can dispense with this meaningless ritual of passing the emblems in front of those who refuse to partake or are just plain afraid to, and go home. For that matter, why even hold a memorial if no one is going to partake? Would you lay out a feast, invite hundreds of people, knowing that not a single one of them will take even one bite, nor drink even one sip? How silly would that be?
While all of this is patently evident to me now, I too was once steeped in this mindset. I thought I was doing the right thing and praising my Lord by obediently refusing to partake. I dreamt of living forever on earth and frankly the thought of the heavenly reward seemed cold and uninviting. This made me realize what obstacles we are facing as we try to help our loved ones wake up to the truth as we have.
This got me to thinking about what our Christian hope really entails. To follow this topic, please check out this article: “Marketing the New World.”
Just for the record. The ritual of having two classes, a heavenly class, and an earthly class is only temporary. The parable of the vineyard workers reflects this temporary arrangement. The first workers hired were promised a “penny” for a full day’s work. This is the heavenly calling. But from the 3rd-hour worker through the 11th-hour worker, they were not promised the penny upfront but “whatever is fair.” So this created a two-class system. Each hour is 7 years, so 11 hours was 77 years from 1914 to 1991. The third-hour workers started to appear after 21 years. Add 21… Read more »
Thank you for your effort, but here we don’t accept speculative Bible chronology. We only go with what can be established from Scripture.
I understand. It certainly makes us think of things we can absolutely be sure or at least that we should include in our discussion. It actually makes me reflect on what we can actually prove vs. what might be obvious and what might be speculative. Quite interesting. For instance, if I may… The gospels tell us that Mary Magdalene came to the grave during the early morning watch (after 3 a.m.) while it was still dark. (John 20:1) The early morning watch was from 3 a.m. to sunrise. She rushed to tell John and Peter who returned to the tomb… Read more »
Food for thought, no pun intended
Friends, do we partake to make a statement against Watchtower or to obey Christ?
If it is to obey Christ then let it be with no mention of Watchtower.
This memorial has been a strange one for me as for the first time I understand the purpose of partaking…the true meaning that is simply put in 1 Cor. 11:26 without no adulterated interpretation. I have explained this to my wife and she was a little surprised when I told her that I feel the need to partake. However, she was very supportive. However, after attending the “memorial” on the 23 rd of march, I did not partake at the KH since I felt I was not ready to do so in the presence of my brothers. I decided that… Read more »
This clip is a wonderful example of an activist at the memorial. It is no wonder that the elders are on high alert and were nervous of Meleti! Apostates!!!!!!!! In the clip, the attendant tries to grab the cup of wine away from our brother. The whole district convention this year is about loyalty and will have a section warning against the evil, wicked apostates. Far worse than pedophiles or any other sin. As for me and my household, we have stopped going to the meetings and look forward to commemorating Jesus’ death on 23 April. The actual day does… Read more »
Hi Colette, I couldn’t get the link to work. I even tried embedding it behind the word “clip”. I’m on the road and limited to using an iPad so I’ll try to fix this when I get to the hotel tonight. I’m happy to hear you are partaking and I agree that the protest that this brother is engaging in is inappropriate to the occasion. The elder would have been smarter if he had not attempted to snatch away the cup as that just gave credence to the protester’s message, but I can see how the years of indoctrination would… Read more »
Hello everyone As I was doing these last two studies, I was thinking, probably like so many others, about those gathered in the upper room that night. Then I recalled the Creed we would say, each Sunday, as we celebrated and thanked Jehovah and Jesus for the sacrifice and partook of the bread and the wine. Nobody was precluded. it was either partaking of the bread and the wine or receiving a blessing (for those not confirmed). The words, “Take, eat, this is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. Drink this all of… Read more »
Dear Brenda, I feel Jehovah knows our intentions, and Jehovah and Jesus would never want you to feel bad as you try to please them and listen to the direct command Jesus said in Lu. 22:19, 20. And YOU obeyed. That gave our Heavenly Father and his Son a huge smile.
And amen to the ” Thank You” words you wrote .
Well done Meleti,I had never thought of doing that,but yes as you say the GB are bent on deflecting everyone away from the hope that is defined in the NT, and by partaking you are defying them,that such has to be done indicates to me the reality behind the whole “who can partake” debacle. It seems to me that Joseph Rutherford was actually under the influence of a familiar spirit,that’s a revealing study on its own,familiar spirits. The Judges doctrine has turned the memorial into a meaningless ritual,when in fact it should be a blessing to be received,not just observed,… Read more »
Like funeral the memorial is used to recruit, the carrot of everyone having their own home, no sickness, kids patting tigers and so on, this has been the same theme of the talk for the past few years.
Interesting experience.. Johnsc11, Cazenovi, and Meleti. I’m not brave enought – yet to partake at the hall. I came home though and had some wine and a dry cracker… (somewhat pseudo though). I was server and the front rows were reserved for servers however I stood up the back. Once again there was this bizarre little dance as the speaker came down and sat at the end so the bread and wine could be passed by/through him. Gets embarrassing, when the speaker got back on the platform he even muttered “this bit always is a bit confusing…” I’m going to… Read more »
Never dispair Dajo for I also didn’t have that courage to partake. Before the Memorial, I talked to a fellow MS that should he partake, I would also (with some humor). I think he was waiting for me. What we did was after the occasion, and after having dinner outside, we got home and as a family did a re-enactment of the event, as if rolling out the Memorial again. We read scriptures, focusing on John 6 (Jesus as the bread of life), then Luke and 1 Corinthians. The 4 of us, including the kids, partook of the bread which… Read more »
I am in my early 20s and have been partaking at the KH and AH for 4 years now. This year I broke the bread and it made a loud crackle and echoed throughout the balcony of the assembly hall where I attended. Lol I could hear feel the angst and discomfort a sister had behind me, practically sobbing, embarrassing herself. And chatter behind me about new understanding of partakers in the WT, in support of my “act” supposedly. It doesn’t faze me none, I’m not interested in how others react. But I may make a suggestion as an “Attendant”… Read more »
I agree Cazenovi. Mine was broken into four large pieces. I tried to break off a piece while holding the plate with one hand, but to no avail. So I ended up taking the whole piece, biting off a morsel, then pocketing the rest.
Lol get this, last year the bread was so poorly made that it didn’t break easily. So I can see why you just took the whole piece.
Yes. I am disassociated as of the memorial of of last year. I went to the memorial last night and I partook. No one said anything. But so many of my ex friends shook my hand and told me to keep going strong. I left the JWs after I read the Divine Plan of the Ages. I joined the Bible Students. We have the memorial on April 21.