Monday, June 20, 2011

Laodicea - Canon 27

Neither they of the priesthood, nor clergymen, nor laymen, who are invited to a love feast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order.

The love feast was a meal eaten with the Lord's Supper—common in the NT era but coming into disfavor in the fourth and fifth centuries.  At this time there was a concern that if someone from the church carried part of the meal away after the meeting, someone outside the church might think that person was engaged in some other improper action and therefore bring reproach on the local body via an act that might be considered sinful.

While care should be taken to maintain a good name within a community, some conduct needs little or no explanation.  In the above case, without knowing what precipitated the strictness, we cannot deduce whether there was one or more cases of mistaken intent or that someone had indeed made off with food for strictly selfish reasons. If the former, some explanation to the populace may have been sufficient.  The point is for churches to take care not to levy harsh rules or sanctions in a misguided endeavor to curb behavior that may be misconstrued.

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