The Jehovah’s Witness annual memorial (Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Communion) was actually less strange this year than in the past, because this year visitors (such as myself) could not see what makes it so strange. What we could see at first was a number of JW individuals and families on screen in the 4-pane Zoom conference format. Many of you sheltered-in-place during this current pandemic know how it looks, especially those working from home.
Once the speaker began his talk, though, all other video and audio feeds were blocked, so that we could only see the speaker. When he got to what other churches would call “the blessing of the elements,” what we could not see was that virtually no one was eating the bread or drinking the wine. The fact that even the speaker himself did not eat or drink should have been a tipoff that something was askew, but a visitor would probably not have thought much of it, thinking that the speaker was just wanting to keep his voice clear. Those of us who have visited physically in years past know that the JW members pass the plate and the cup without eating or drinking, unless they are one of the rare (endangered?) 144,000 anointed believers.
I share this in case you were a guest (invited or otherwise) to this year’s memorial, and were unaware of the strange practice that it is. What you did not see was families at home passing bread and wine to one another, without ingesting either. It’s truly bizarre to an evangelical Christian like me. I also wonder what individuals who were alone did. Pick up the plate and set it back down again? Weird, weird, weird. I asked one of my JW friends, Gary, what they do with the bread and wine after the meeting, and he said that they eat it later. “As a snack,” he added. Wow. Just wow. “At least you don’t waste it,” I said.
Which leads me to reporting on the two post-memorial conversations I had. I talked by phone with my long-time friend Mark, and we had a long conversation about both our personal lives and doctrine. (I consider him a good friend, so we talk about a lot of things. I’m constantly praying that God will continue to protect us from his elders squelching our relationship.) We talked about the two-class system, Jesus as mediator, salvation through faith and not works, having a relationship with Jehovah and Jesus rather than “taking in knowledge,” and several other doctrinal topics.
My other conversation is with Gary, and is ongoing, because we’re conversing by text. I asked him about the speaker saying that the Bible talks about “two hopes,” but I only find the Bible talking about “one hope” (Ephesians 4:4). He told me that “this hope spoken of here [in the Ephesians verse] is the hope of everlasting life, shared by the ones with heavenly or earthly hope.” I think he found that double-speak somewhere in the JW literature, but he didn’t say where. I have texted back asking about the two-class system, and whether he thinks it has been imposed on the Bible rather than being taught by the Bible. My phone says that the text has been read, but so far he hasn’t responded. Here’s hoping and praying that he continues to interact and doesn’t shut down on me.
Lord Jesus, use the strange memorial meeting of this year to draw JW’s to yourself. Help them see the hypocrisy of rejecting you, and then calling themselves “Christians.”