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


On Silence …

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalms 46:10)

Today, in this age, the age of the gentiles, the Church age, God is exalted among the erstwhile heathen. Gentiles, once excluded from the advantages of Israel and the blessings of God are now called unto His name in Christ. Malachi spoke of this,

“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)

We see Christ being exalted worldwide by the worshiping Church in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We who once did not know God, now call upon the name of His Son, Jesus Christ for salvation. And He hears us.

The passage from Psalms 46 tells us to be still, to compose ourselves before God in silence. The preacher of Ecclesiastes wrote,

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

There is a time for preaching. There is a time for singing psalms and spiritual songs. There is a time for prayer and petition. There is a time to speak. There is also a time for silence:

“A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

A Roman Catholic, F. Tom Margevicius (St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, St. Paul, MN), has said, “Visual and audible noise fills every empty space …” He is speaking of our modern world incessantly demanding our attention. But he also is speaking of contemporary worship that uses multimedia. I don’t think he is saying that that is wrong. But he is making the point that there is a time for, particularly during worship, and a value to, silence.

It can seem that we are afraid of stillness and silence and fill it with the noise of activity, good activity, just as if being afraid of the physical dark we try to fill it with light. We do well to sit silently listening to God for a season during worship.

The Roman Catholic Church in its General Instruction of the Roman Missal invites the Catholic congregations to “observe sacred silence” after communion. This invitation may be well received by Protestants as well because it is an appropriate time to observe silence, when we must discern the body and blood of the Lord, and know that He is God, remembering Him and meditating upon His death for us on the cross.

To remain recollected in silence, not rushing to fill every empty space with activity and visual and auditory noise, to remain so recollected we may then, being still and knowing that God is the Lord, we may then listen for the "still, small voice of God” (I Kings 19:12). Especially we may listen for the witness concerning Jesus Christ from the Holy Spirit.

During our meetings we make time to speak, time to sing, time to pray, but do we make time for silence? The considered opinion of the Church is that silence is appropriate in our meetings and especially so after the passing of the communion elements. This seems fitting that in the the remembrance of our Lord’s passion that we should be still. There is,

“a time to keep silence and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7b)

This seems to be a good time to keep silence. We don’t want the good to become the enemy of the best.

In stillness God does speak, His Spirit discerns the thoughts and intents of our hearts with His Word. It is in listening to the Spirit that we are filled with His light - hearing His Word.

Sometimes despite our best intentions, by constant activity (the filling of our minds with noise) we shut out God’s voice and the witness of His Spirit. And this isn’t always deliberate, we just too easily and often get caught up in the necessary activity of life, and of worship, that we forget these things. And because we can be such a forgetful people the Lord has given us an opportunity, in our weekly gathering around the Lord’s Supper to be reminded and to be recollected in silence and hear Him.

Jesus said,

“... men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil ... ” (John 3:19b).

The metaphorical darkness of noise, or constant activity drowns out God’s witness to us, blocking the light as it were. Our hearts are wicked, deceitful, who can know it?

We can see in the world, that restless sea of humanity, a reenacting of what the people did at Mt. Sinai when the Lord came down upon the mountain and delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses: The people were filled with fear, and,

“... they removed and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” (Exodus 2):18b,19)

The unsaved are filled with fear about the exposure of secret sins hidden away in their hearts and also remove afar off. They fill their lives with the noise and darkness of activity that drowns out Gods voice. They will not “… let God speak with us …” This is loving the darkness just as Jesus said. Their deeds being evil they are afraid of God’s judgment and and don’t want to listen. Rightly so are they to be afraid,

“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32)


“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a)

But if they would listen,

“While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” (Hebrews 3:15)

they would hear this astounding and blessed relief to their fears:

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

And this is what God’s Son has spoken to us, to sinners:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17)

One asks what this discussion of the unsaved world and its rejection of Christ has to do with a time of silence during the Lord’s Supper. The answer is simple. We were once, each and every one of us, unsaved sinners hiding in darkness from the light of Christ. Those of us who have called upon Him for His free gift of salvation celebrate the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him and His death for us. We do well to make a time for silent recollection of these things as we eat of that broken bread and drink of that cup. And we do well to make a time for silent listening to the Lord Himself.

The practical suggestion is that a time be deliberately set aside for silence, and that that be communicated to all who partake so that all things may be done decently and in order. Of course each group of Christians must work out the details of their own services.

©FH 2012

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