Next in my list of the top ten topics to discuss with Jehovah’s Witnesses is “The Memorial,” their version of what most Christians call Communion, Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper. JW’s celebrate the event only once a year, an attempt to be biblically accurate, using what they consider the proper date. Anyone who has been to one of their memorials will tell you how bizarre it is. Their two-class system of believers necessitates that only the elite “anointed class,” made up of only 144,000, will eat the bread and drink the wine; so you might see only one, or more likely none of the believers present eating and drinking. Almost all of those present will only pass the plate and cup up and down the rows, since they are there to only “observe” the ritual. As weird and depressing as that is, it provides the visiting Christian (you and me) great opportunities for conversation with them after the meeting.
Here are some of the questions I like to ask them:
“Jesus said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ What did he mean? Do what? It seems like you’re not doing what Jesus said to do. I don’t understand. Can you explain that to me?”
“If we’re only supposed to observe, why do we even touch the dishes? Shouldn’t they have the actual participants up front at that little table, and the rest of us watch from back here? It seems like you’re half participating in the ritual. If you’re only supposed to observe, it should be all or nothing, don’t you think?”
“The speaker quoted Jesus, where he said ‘Drink out of it, all of you, for this means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.’ (Matthew 26:27-28) Does that mean you’re not in the New Covenant? Aren’t your sins forgiven? If you’re not in the New Covenant, what covenant are you in?”
And here’s a more advanced question: “Did you know that the Watchtower likens the Great Crowd believers to the ‘foreign residents’ in the Old Testament? Did you also know that the foreign residents, once they committed to Jehovah, could participate in all the festivals and feasts, including the Passover? I’m sure you know that the Lord’s evening meal is the fulfillment of the Passover. So here’s what’s puzzling to me. Since the foreign residents could eat and drink at the Passover, why can’t the great crowd believers eat and drink at the memorial?”
I hope this list of questions provides you with good ideas and inspiration, rather than being overwhelming. If for simplicity I were to lump all these questions together into one, it would be “What’s up with your Memorial? It’s so different from what we do at my church. Can you explain it to me please?”
With any of these questions, I’m not so much looking for reasonable answers (because there really are none), but rather I’m wanting my JW friends to attempt to explain the bizarre ritual. Sometimes the best thing for them is to hear themselves attempting to explain their strange doctrines, and for them to see them from the perspective of an outsider. Once they attempt to explain things to you, then you have the opportunity to share with them what Communion means to you. So when you receive an invitation to their Memorial (or even if you don’t), attend and take advantage of the opportunity.