International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
Typhoon Haiyan

The Lord's Supper

SupperYesterday was Remembrance Day here in Australia and we took time to remember those who have given their lives at war for our freedom. Ultimately, Jesus is the greatest hero as he gave his life willingly not only for our freedom but also for our salvation. That's why we take time regularly in church communities all over the world to remember his death and his sacrifice. 

The Lord's Supper, or "communion" is one of the sacraments given by Jesus to his followers (another being water baptism). A "sacrament", in the Christian Church, is a ceremony regarded as imparting spiritual grace. A rite believed to be the means of, or visible form of, grace.

It's more than just an empty form or ritual. Pentecostal theologians Duffield and Van Cleave write: The elements, when received by faith, mediate to the believer the spiritual benefits of Christ’s death.  The elements in themselves are only tokens, but when received by faith, real communion with the Lord is experienced and the benefits of that communion may be mediated.

Richard Rohr writes: The [Lord’s Supper] is telling us that God is the food and we have to provide the hunger. Somehow we have to make sure that each day we are hungry, that there’s room inside of us for another Presence. If you are filled with your own opinions, ideas, righteousness, superiority, or sufficiency, you are a world unto yourself and there is no room for “another.” Despite all our attempts to define who is worthy and who is not worthy to receive communion, our only ticket or prerequisite for coming to [The Lord’s Supper] is hunger. And most often sinners are much hungrier than the so-called saints.”

The Lord's Supper is an inclusive table, welcoming all who love Jesus and see their need for forgiveness. It is not for the "worthy" or those who have it all together. It is for all of us. The apostle Paul does talk about not partaking in an unworthy manner, but this relates to our attitudes to other people in the body of Christ, not about being perfect in order to partake. 

Gordon Fee writes: This paragraph has an unfortunate history of misunderstanding in the church. The very Table that is God’s reminder, and therefore his repeated gift, the Table where we affirm again who and whose we are, has been allowed to become a table of condemnation for the very people who most truly need the assurance of acceptance that this table affords—the sinful, the weak, the weary. One does not have to “get rid of the sin in one’s life” in order to partake. Here by faith one may once again receive the assurance that “Christ receiveth sinners.” This is not a call for deep personal introspection to determine whether one is worthy of the Table. Paul is stating that before they participate in the meal, they should examine themselves in terms of their attitudes toward others in the body, how they are treating others, since the meal itself is a place of proclaiming the gospel.

N.T. Wright says: Eating together was a sign of the breaking down of boundaries between Christians of different groups: Jew and Greek (Galatians 2), rich and poor (1 Corinthians 11), and so on.  This was a sign of God’s saving justice going out into all the world.  When this caused difficulties, Paul was adamant, in the name of the Jesus, who had included everyone at his table, unity at [the Lord’s supper] was not negotiable. “We, who are many, are one bread’ (1 Corinthians 10:17)”

May we always remember what Christ has done for us and may the celebration of the Lord's Supper be a place of exchange where God's grace is mediated to us through this sacrament.

[Thanks to Lynn Moresi for her excellent message at CityLife on this topic recently. Check out the video or audio of this message on our church web site]