Tag Archives: Communion

I Attended the Jehovah’s Witness Virtual Memorial

CommunionPhoto

From David Weber on Unsplash

In my previous post, I lamented and gave a pep talk to myself (and you, I hope) about God being at work even when we’re being ghosted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the time, it seemed like I was waiting for something to happen.

Well, something happened.

The Covid virus happened.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ annual memorial this year was done on Zoom video chat. Out of the blue I received an invitation from a JW acquaintance who attends the kingdom hall that my long-time friend Mark attends. This acquaintance (whom I’ll call Gary) offered to help me download the Zoom app, and provided the meeting access code on the day of the event.

So here’s what happened.

I thought I would be able to observe people passing the elements, whether where the speaker was located (Florida), or with the people and families I saw on screen. But no. While I could see people on screen before and after the talk, they were all blanked out during the talk. All I could see was the talking head. And he gave people hardly any time to pass the elements among themselves. In fact, it was unclear when they were supposed to pass the bread. Passing the elements seemed like almost an afterthought.

The talk was the same that I have heard every dang time I have been to the memorial. Same four questions. If I remember them correctly: (1) How is the ransom provided, (2) Who benefits from the ransom, (3) Who should partake of the bread and wine, and (4) What more can we do to show our appreciation for the ransom. Point number 3 is always a thinly veiled warning against anybody but the anointed 144,000 taking the elements. Point 4 is an appeal to attend meetings, participate in ministry, and take in Bible knowledge.

After the meeting, attendees were allowed to greet each other, which was actually a really nice, casual affair, everyone saying hello to each other. They’re obviously lonely and bored, and this was a much-needed connection time for their members. At least the control-freaks allowed it. Thank God. I actually heard a couple of hellos directed toward me; I don’t know who it was, but several members of the congregation know me. I was pleasantly surprised.

I have yet to talk with Mark and Gary about the meeting. That will be the big payoff—the talking points that came from the experience. I’ve already asked Gary what they do with the bread and wine that serve as props for the meeting. He said they eat and drink it later. That’s so bizarre. But at least the bread and wine are not wasted. (I read somewhere that those who believe in transubstantiation, like the Roman Catholics, have to pour out unused wine onto the ground, because it has actually become the literal blood of Christ. That’s bizarre too.)

My planned talking points include: The opening song, “A Special Posession,” (song #25) which is the perfect example of so much that is wrong with the Watchtower doctrine. The whole song applies exclusively to the 144,000. That means that my friends are actually singing about a group they’re not a part of. The song goes on and on about the anointed being a new creation, spirit-anointed sons, a holy nation, God’s people, etc. The whole thing borders on idolatry, praising the anointed class of believers. Ugh, it’s so annoying. What’s also annoying is that visiting evangelical Christians would have no clue about the song’s true meaning, thinking it’s just a nice song about all believers. Again, Ugh. BTW, a fun thing to do if you’re at a meeting and they sing this song: Substitute in the word “we” for every place the song says “they.” Instant evangelical hymn! Watch for reactions of those around you.

Another talking point might be that the speaker specifically said that the Bible talks about “two hopes,” a heavenly hope and an earthly hope. Nowhere does the Bible say “two hopes.” In fact, it says that there’s “one hope” at Ephesians 4:4. Only. One. Hope.

The speaker also talked about the anointed being “in contract” with Jehovah, as Jesus expressed during the Lord’s supper, when he said “this cup is the New Covenant in my blood.” He did not say the rest of the sentence, where Jesus adds “for many for the remission of sins.” If the Great Crowd believers are not in the New Covenant, what covenant, if any, are they in? What is their “contract” with Jehovah?

Finally, the speaker mentioned Romans 8 to answer how the anointed know that they’re destined for heaven. Paul says that “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Verse 16) Watchtower applies this blessing exclusively to the 144,000. I hope to read all of Romans 8 with Mark and Gary and express to them my sadness, anger, and offense at how the governing bully denies all the blessings from virtually all their disciples. They are, however, expected to live up to all the exhortations in the Bible. Harumph.

I look forward to talking with Mark and Gary. Please pray that their hearts and minds will be open to the truth and the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.

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Invitation to Jehovah’s Witness Memorial

 

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Last night I attended the regular midweek meeting at the local kingdom hall, and was given this invitation to the upcoming Memorial (sometimes called the Lord’s Evening Meal); that is, the annual JW communion service. Jehovah’s Witnesses observe what we call communion only once per year, because they believe that it’s proper practice to observe the event on the day of year upon which Passover would be celebrated. This is a BIG DEAL to JW’s, and is the closest thing they have to celebrating a holiday.

Notice their quotation of Luke 22:19, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” I have a question I want to ask my JW friends. (And I likely will be asking them at the upcoming Memorial.) My question is, keep doing what? What is the this that we are to keep doing? Likely my JW friends will answer that we are to keep observing the memorial every year. But is that what Jesus had in mind when he said those words? Looking at the gospel narratives, it’s pretty obvious that Jesus was saying keep eating and drinking the bread and wine in remembrance of him. The strange thing is, the vast majority of JW’s don’t eat or drink the communion bread and wine. They just pass it without eating and drinking. Why? Because they believe that participating in the memorial is only for the 144,000 anointed class of believers. The rest, who are members of the “great crowd” class of believers, are only there to observe.

Sounds crazy to outsiders. Because it is crazy. But my JW friends and acquaintances don’t see it that way. It’s normal belief and practice to them. It’s likely that they have never even given it much thought; it’s just what they’ve always done. Our job, then, is to get them to think about it. But that’s not easy. While we’re uncomfortable just passing the bread and wine (last time I couldn’t do it; I had to get up and stand against the side wall), they would be uncomfortable with the thought of eating and drinking the symbols of a covenant belonging to someone else. So how do we talk with them about it? How do we get them to see how it looks to an outsider?

I have found the best approach is to express your puzzlement, which is not hard to do. Here’s what I asked a JW friend last year, and what I’ll likely ask again, and what you too can ask your JW friend, acquaintance, or relative:

“This is so strange to me. Can you tell me again why no-one here seemed to eat or drink the bread and wine? I’m puzzled.”

Then just let them try to explain. Some will be good at explaining it, while others will have a hard time explaining. But let them verbalize it and own it. Then repeat what they say, adding what you have learned about the practice. Something like, “So, if I understand correctly, Watchtower teaches that only the 144,000 anointed believers are in the New Covenant, and so only they can eat and drink. Can you tell me where in the Bible they are getting that from?” Show them the invitation, and ask, “I thought Jesus said ‘Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’ Wasn’t he saying that to all believers?” Then let them respond however they will. They might try to explain it away. Or they might change the subject. Their response is less important than their interacting with the truth as you have quoted in scripture and have explained to them. You have planted seeds that may need to germinate invisibly in the soil of their heart and mind for a while. Keep praying for them. They can be set free. I know it’s true, because I have met former JW’s! (If you need that encouragement, see my previous post here.)

God bless your ministry to those in bondage!

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