On The Lord's Supper

I have had several questions lately about the Lord's Supper and why we do what we do. I thought I would take some space to explain as best I can. Don't expect much. John Calvin said it "is a mystery." Here goes:

1. There are many different persuasions on the meaning and mode of the table. Our Catholic friends subscribe to transubstantiation, our Lutheran friends to consubstantiation and our Baptists friends to a memorial. Those are topics for another post.

2. Our Anglican friends like to take it by chalice and wafer, our Baptists friends by juice in cup and bread and our Indian brothers by hand. I will address those here.

3. The heart of the table is found in the old testament. It comes from the passover. Blood on a doorpost, a meal and the people of God inside the house were saved from destruction. They looked forward to the One who would shed His blood for the salvation of the nations. They took the table by faith and were strengthened for the journey ahead.

4. Jesus took the table with His friends. He said that the wine and bread were the new covenant. He spoke to them, He gave thanks and they partook. He said it was His blood and body.

5. Today we Presbyterians look back to that night and we see it as follows: Jesus spoke, meaning some word was preached. Jesus said to the leaders that they were to continue to do this in remembrance of Him. The idea is clear: do it together.

6. Further clarification comes in the letters of Paul. He talks about coming to the table in a worthy manner and about proclaiming the death of the Lord. He sees it as a means of grace.

7. By means of grace we mean a way that grace is given to those who believe. A strong reason to come, yet mysterious.

8. We believe the sacrament is for the church. People should not do it by themselves. They need to examine themselves and be "known to be taking the table" by others. If someone takes it on their own, and has offence against someone, they are eating and drinking judgment. So, they need to take in the presence of the body. In practical terms, no one shouts out, "Hey that guy over there owes me $5!" but we need to allow for it. So the table is for the community and in community.

9. What about shut ins? Exceptions may occur, but the idea of it being a community event has the higher value. No one ate the passover alone.

10. Why the Chalice and Wafer? Our religion is both about us and the community. The idea of coming forward has merit and value as people get the sense that it is not an individual thing. It is not just about me and Jesus. We are His people. We are together. The elders see people.

Coming forward has some hazards. It can interfere with a time for confession if the minister does not allow time for it. I would suggest a time of confession first in the pew, meditate on the work of Christ and then a time of walking in faith to the elements. The return to the pew can be made with a new resolve to live for Christ. Variations can help the congregant meditate on the beauty of Christ, the cost of salvation, the hope of the resurrection. Music may be helpful to that end.

11. Sitting in a pew and having the elements delivered to you can be helpful too. It affords time for individual introspection.

12. Is it happy or sad? Both. We should be sorry that Christ had to bear the wrath of God and glad that He did.

I am sure there is more. I am sure I have not clearly answered all the questions. Post one and I will do my best! Blessings!