the face of much confusion today surrounding the Lord's Supper
it is important to consider what Scripture teaches about this
most important act of Christian devotion.
contains stern warnings about the Lord's Supper. Paul says ?whoever
eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy
manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord' (1 Cor
11: 27). He adds that in so doing a person ?eats and drinks judgement
to himself' and that ?for this reason many are weak and sick among
you, and many sleep'.
these hard sayings lies the fact that the Corinthians were treating
the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner. Firstly, they were treating
it as any other meal, simply to fill themselves, which was dishonouring
the special significance given to the meal by Christ. Secondly,
some were disregarding the needs of others, thinking only of themselves,
and therefore denying the fellowship they had together in Christ.
Further, in chapter 5, Paul instructed them not to eat with those
guilty of certain sins.
it is plain that as we come to the Lord's supper we should examine
ourselves. Paul uses a dramatic and vivid expression - if we would
judge ourselves, we would not be judged. We are not to look at
the sins of others but our own, sitting in judgement, honestly
weighing our own lives. If we will not do this, then we actually
bring judgement on ourselves. Of course we should be ready and
eager to repent, which is why formal exhortation and confession
are essential in the service. We must use public confession wisely,
not just mouthing the words but saying them from the heart, being
truly sorry and determined to amend our lives.
THIS, IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME' (Luke 22: 19)
is important for all people, whether it be Remembrance Day, Anniversaries
or Birthdays. But Christians are called to remember something
much more important, we are to remember Christ. He instituted
the Lord's Supper for this special purpose.
all the simplicity of the command, there is considerable disagreement
about how it should be understood. Arguments rage about what precisely
we are to do and how often. The danger is that we focus so much
on the details that we forget the heart of it. We are given no
clear guidance in Scripture as to what we should do, therefore
we have certain freedom. But the reason for our doing is quite
clear, it is an act of remembrance.
remembering often involves action (such as laying flowers at a
grave side) it is at root about mind and emotions. We call to
mind and reflect on the significance of something. If we programmed
robots to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph and play the last post and
for 2 minutes let their circuits be quiescent, that would be no
act of remembrance. Robots cannot remember in any meaningful sense.
we come to the Lord's Table, we should beware of being automata
who hear the words, which we have heard so often, and go through
the motions, but without so much as a thought. Remembering is
active, not passive, we are to call to mind what Christ has done
for us and be consumed by wonder and awe at the depth of his love.
This should move us to thanksgiving and action.
all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of
the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ...' (From
the 3rd Exhortation in the Book of Common Prayer).
the Last Supper, as at other meals, Jesus gave thanks before breaking
the bread. Curiously, apart from this normal custom, the Bible
does not link the Lord's Supper with thanksgiving. Yet it is natural
that Christians, remembering the death and suffering of Christ
on our behalf, should want to give thanks to God. Indeed thanksgiving
is so important that by the second century some Christians were
calling the Lord's Supper the ?Eucharist' meaning ?the thanksgiving'.
the Book of Common Prayer the exhortation quoted above makes it
plain that thanksgiving is vitally important and it is expressed
several times later in the service. The post-communion prayers
in particular pick up on the biblical teaching that our lives
should be ?a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving' - part of our
response to God's goodness in giving his Son Jesus.
service we use, the note should be the same, as we remember the
death of Christ for us we should be stirred to thank God for his
great goodness and love.
often complain that the Book of Common Prayer is too narrowly
focussed on the death of Christ. In newer services there are attempts
to include themes such as creation and incarnation. Yet
the Apostle Paul gives us a very clear statement of what should
be the heart of our celebration of the Lord's Supper :
?...whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim
the Lord's death until he comes' (1 Corinthians 11: 26).
words of Jesus in giving the bread and wine drive this home, we
are not reminded simply of the body and blood of Christ but that
they were broken and shed for us.
we are not simply ?remembering' but rather ?proclaiming' the Lord's
death. This word means to broadcast publicly and is why the sacrament
can be called a visible word. It is not a proclamation to outsiders,
there would not have been outsiders in the gatherings at Corinth.
Rather the proclamation is to us, those who gather at the Lord's
table to receive the bread and wine. To us is declared again in
the bread and wine the death of Christ for us. We should
remember and give thanks because without Christ's death we cannot
find peace and forgiveness with God. It is a reminder that the
sole basis of our hope for the future is that Christ died for
us, taking upon himself the penalty for our sins.
further that we proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. This
could mean that we will not need to do this after Christ's return
but surely it also reminds us that Christ now sits at the right
hand of glory and will return as judge. If we trust in him we
have nothing to fear from that judgement because he has died for
us. We can look forward to the return of Christ with eager longing.
ate many times with his disciples and they recall many remarkable
meals in the gospels. As they ate together on the eve of the crucifixion
he spoke of an even greater meal to come. As he handed around
the cup he said to them ?I say to you, I will not drink of this
fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new
with you in My Father's kingdom' (Mtt 26: 29). Notice those words
our age of TV dinners the meal means far less to us than it did
in generations past. Eating together was important in Hebrew culture
and still is today in parts of the world. The meal is an act of
close fellowship. But the meals of Jesus were astonishing, for
man and God at table sat down - ?God with us'. These meals speak
to us of the wonderful grace and condescension of God.
we have the Holy Spirit, Christ is now in heaven and we are separated
from Him but we look eagerly for His coming again. The disciples
who ate the last supper with Jesus faced uncertain futures, and
so may we. We may go through trials like Peter, or martyrdom like
James, or through a long life of service like John, but if we
are truly trusting in Christ then the glorious promise of Christ's
words is ours too. Whenever we gather at the Lord's table we look
forward to the heavenly banquet of which Jesus often spoke. We
look to the time when we will be with Him in His Father's kingdom.
contents of this page are taken from an article in Cross†Way
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