How the Watchtower is changing focus:
The Memorial is one thing that Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate that has so much relevance and is even more inescapable now. It’s even more fated now than ever before. Why is this so?
“Mark,” a former JW from our Downey Ex-JW Meetup, received an invitation at his door three weeks before the Memorial. When that Sunday evening April 17th approached, Mark decided that he would attend. The event was held in a public school’s auditorium.
When he arrived, it was already crowded, ushers were directing everyone in. He had to walk a distance from where he parked to get to the door. When he arrived, it was very crowded with plenty of hustle and bustle. As he walked toward the seats, he realized that no one has greeted him. He found that very strange. As he looked for a seat, he saw seats next to an older couple and he asked if there was a seat available, toward the back. Still no one has greeted him. He dressed business casual and brought his own Bible to make it obvious that he was a visitor.
What disturbed him was that song #8, “The Lord’s Evening Meal,” that he was formerly familiar with, is not the same melody anymore. However, the most disturbing thing was that the song they used did not contain any words describing the symbolism of the bread and the wine. The words of the new song seemed to water-down the very essence of why they were having this “Memorial.” This new song, in Mark’s opinion, did not seem spiritually moving and was more like a “jingle” than a song of worship, and inappropriate for this occasion.
The talk was ordinary as it began, but Mark began to notice how the Watchtower spin focused mostly on who were the “heavenly class” rather than the Passover’s deliverance from bondage. They did use scripture to try to prove the Watchtower’s position on their belief.
As they were about to pass the emblems, Mark turned to the man next to him and asked: “Why is the whole purpose to come here is just to make sure we don’t partake? I don’t get it. Why are you commemorating the act of NOT PARTAKING the emblems?” The man whispered some basic standard bullet points of what the JW’s believe, but didn’t really address Mark’s questions. The entire focus was about the “heavenly class” and how they are to co-mediators with Jesus.
When the emblems arrived and the “bread” was passed to Mark, he held the platter for just a few seconds, looking at the “brother” to his left, and then looking at the “brother” to his right. Finally he passed it on with a sigh and just shook his head bemusement. Before the speaker introduced the cup, the speaker asked, “Has everybody been served?” This was too ironic because no one “served” had partaken of the emblems. It is though someone has invited you to their home for dinner, but tells you that while you may sit at the table you must not eat, because there are a special class of guests who will be eating on your behalf.
As the “wine” was passed, Mark did the same with it that he did with the bread, turning to the persons on his left and right and then passing it on.
After the final song, Mark began to speak with the gentleman (who appeared to be in his early 70’s) and continue the conversation that started as whispers during the passing of the emblems. However, this gentleman’s wife was more interested in going home than giving a “witness” to Mark the “newcomer.” She even discouraged her husband from speaking to “Mark” and answering his questions. Mark found it puzzling that they behaved this way, because in his experience JW’s usually are very eager to “give a witness” to any newcomer who shows an interest in their organization.
Mark suggested that they talk on the way to their vehicles, but this man did not initiate any more conversation. When they reached his vehicle they said their “goodbyes” – but they did not talk or discuss any of Mark’s questions. Mark also noticed as they were leaving that no one else seemed to acknowledge his presence as a visitor.
Later, as Mark went to his own vehicle, he heard a man call out to him saying, “Well, hello there neighbor!” Mark didn’t know who it could be. He thought someone had recognized him from his prior days as a JW. Thankfully it wasn’t anyone he had known previously, but it truly turned out to be a real neighbor who lives around the corner from him.
In conclusion, Mark is left wondering about the opening song, and theorizes that the verse he remembered about the bread and wine symbolizing Jesus’ body and blood. He wonders why the focus has shifted entirely from what Jesus did to how this “priestly class” will receive the full benefits of Jesus’ promises, while everyone does not qualify to have a relationship with Him. This whole idea puts more focus on the “Watchtower religionship” rather than a true relationship with God!