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Can We Talk About The Lord’s Supper?
I ask us to reexamine our traditions concerning the Lord’s Supper.


We celebrate the Lord with the Lord’s Supper. But what is a celebration? It is a Latin word that seems to have been used in the middle ages to refer the public religious ceremonies of a festival nature, especially the Eucharist, attended by the people as a whole (the Latin root of celebrate has the sense of a gathering of many people). A festival is originally a holy day characterized by rejoicing, and a feast is typically associated with it. For example Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection is a joyous holy day and a time of feasting. On the other hand the observance of Good Friday when Christ was arrested and was crucified is a day of solemn fasting and mourning.

When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are gathered together in a festival setting, joyfully announcing the Lord’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven until He returns. When the Church proclaims the mystery of Godliness in the setting of this festive celebration it as the “pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). This witness by the Church builds us up in the faith and witnesses also to the world and principalities and powers in heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). We do this one more time and one less time until the Lord returns, it is the constant witness of the Church.

Our constant witness to Christ, and Him crucified, defines us as Christians. The Lord’s Supper is not the least witness we make. Who do people say we are? Do we by our celebration of the Lord’s Supper give them to know and understand that we are they who,

… commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper (and) … profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory (CCC Paragraph 1400)

The witness of the Church to the love of God is also given by the good works she does. There are missions that feed the hungry, missions that bring medical care to those without and in need, missions to help those with personal issues (substance abuse for one example), missions to bring the benefits of science, technology, sound business practice, hygene, medicine, counseling, farming, and literacy, to list some. The intent of these missions is twofold, one is because we love one another and want to meet the essential needs so many have in this world. The other intent of course is to gain a hearing for the Gospel.

The reality is that sometimes the preaching of the Gospel takes second place, or that those receiving the benefit of mission work may not really know that it is brought by Christ’s people to show His love abroad. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper can make that message clear. Paul said we shew, or proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns. The world sees us celebrate this way, or should, and begins to know us as those people who, again in the words of the Catholic Catechism, which bear repeating:

… commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy supper (and) … profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await His coming in glory (CCC paragraph 1400)

The Lord’s Supper is a celebration in fullest sense of the word, making the Lord and His salvation famous by our rejoicing over Him. As we participate we are performing a priestly act, remember it is as we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, actions through which we effectually proclaim, or preach, that we have partaken of His sacrifice, and preach the Lord’s death until His return, and declare that He will return. Therefore in a very literal way we are co-celebrants of the Lord’s Supper. It is a priestly act to partake, declaring in the cup of blessing that we bless, the communion of the blood of Christ, and in the bread, the communion of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). In that we eat and drink of the figure of the sacrifice, the bread and the cup, we are partakers in the figure of the altar. We are called priests,

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9)

The Lord gave us this simple feast, elegant and striking in its use of the simple elements of bread and wine in order that we might celebrate His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in such a way (“shew forth the praises of Him” 1 Peter 2:9) that He is given the preeminence in all things. This was His plan from the beginning, for us to remember Him, proclaim Him, give Him thanks, and thus celebrate Him when we gather together as the Church. In this celebration one aspect of our royal priesthood is acted out as we eat and drink.

The point of this is to emphasize that we are celebrating the Lord each time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. It is a solemn but very joyous occasion. It is not merely a religious ritual that we are attending, it is not a ritual that is merely solemn but somewhat dim as to the purpose. The Lord's Supper when celebrated in that spirit may seem dry, or sometimes even boring, but it is not something we do and then move on to more important or exciting things. Some celebrations are filled with noise and music and food and activities that make them very exciting and fun. The Lord’s Supper is truly a celebration and should not be seen as merely solemn but also joyous, and we should begin to see it for what it is. This means that we look at it in the light of something other than a religious ritual and see in it the opportunity for a deep enjoyment of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is something that we look forward to with an eagerness to celebrate Jesus, just as we might look forward to enjoying a birthday or wedding celebration.

In the overall scheme of things for the Church, this celebration has a high value and place in God’s purposes. But it isn’t to be made too much of, it is after all only a part of what the Church does when it comes together. On the other hand it is made too little of, and its high value and place are missed. This series of chapters discussing the Lord’s Supper may leave the impression that it is being given a value and place that displaces other things. This celebration is one of many things we engage in. If we properly value it and give it its rightful place, that will keep it in proportion to those other things.

The bread and wine direct our attention to Jesus. They are not the center of our attention, they center our attention upon Him. They hold before our eyes His sacrifice for us in such a way that we are able to partake of that sacrifice in a figure. This celebration is a restraint on us, but a restraint that is given by God from His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge” so that His purposes might be accomplished. And His purpose is that the Lord Jesus Christ may have the preeminence in all things, that He be celebrated. We, like sheep following our Shepherd, are restrained from running this way or that, but are led into green pastures.

Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is one way, but a very powerful way, that we become identified to the watching world as those people who declare the “mystery of Godliness (I1 Timothy 3:16): Jesus died; Jesus rose; Jesus will return. And we become identified as those people who are living in communion with His life. And we become identified as those people who are awaiting His return in glory. We are marked as His so that when we do those good works the worlds knows we are His.

This, in part, is why we call it God’s work and say that we should prefer nothing to it.

©FH 2012

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