And Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Christians observe the Lord’s Supper (sometimes called Communion or Eucharist) in obedience to Jesus’ instruction. However with the passage of time two particular issues have arisen.
First, when Jesus said ‘this is My body’ what did he really mean? Are these words to be taken literally? Do they point to some deeper significance? Or, are they merely a way of speaking? What implications does the understanding of these words have?
Secondly, when Jesus said ‘do this’ what was He expecting that His followers would do? How are we best to follow out His instruction today?
These questions are not just theological speculations. The mistaken answers to these questions have been the cause of gross error, division, conflict and killing.
The Church of England has a clear understanding of these things expressed in its official doctrinal statements. Regrettably many of the liturgies used in the Church and some other statements do no accord with the official doctrine. This doctrine can be found in the 39 Articles of Religion (in particular Articles 25 and 28-31) and the Book of Common Prayer (especially the Lord’s Supper and Communion for the Sick).
The Anglican position is that of the Reformed churches:.
At the Lord’s Supper we receive Christ spiritually by faith.
At the Lord’s Supper we remember Christ and proclaim His death, we examine ourselves, we give thanks and we resolve to follow as His disciples.
Article 25 - On the Sacraments
Article 28 - The Lord’s Supper
Article 29 - The wicked who partake of the Lord’s Supper do not eat the body of Christ
Article 30 - Reception in both kinds
Article 31 - The oblation of Christ finished on the cross
The Lord’s Supper (BCP) - to be added
Communion of the Sick (BCP) - to be added
Lord’s Supper pages
Nature of the sacrament – to be added
Remembrance or sacrifice? – to be added
Bishop Jewel : On the Sacraments
W. H. Griffith Thomas : "A Sacrament of Redemption" - An enquiry into the Meaning of the Lord's Supper in the New Testament and the Church of England.
Liturgy : The Lord’s Supper
Articles relevant to
Churchman article by Matthew Mason
- The Real Presence. C19th Church Association Tract 25 by W. F. Taylor, explaining how the doctrine of the Real Presence is contrary to Church of England teaching.
From the 19th Century