Last Sunday, Oct 6th, was World Communion Sunday, where many Christian denominations celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a way to promote Christian unity. Because of the October holiday in China, COGS will be observing it this Sunday, Oct 13th: we will have a communion focused service, where the Scripture readings, sermon, and children’s Sunday school lesson will lead us to reflect on the practice of communion.
Here is this midweek reflection I’d like to get us thinking about the Lord’s Supper in preparation for Sunday. It is a gift from the Lord to his church: Jesus instituted the practice shortly before he died. The apostle Paul wrote: “I have received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said: `This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying: `This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” (1 Cor. 11:23–25; cf. Matt. 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:14–20).
The meaning of this meal is about the gift that God gives to us in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Lord’s Supper we give thanks to the Father for creating, for saving, and for working in us. It is a memorial of the crucified and risen Christ (“Do this in remembrance of me.”) The Holy Spirit works in us during this meal by making Jesus present (in some sense) to us. It is something we all do together in the church; it’s an act of fellowship and community. Regularly celebrating the Lord’s Supper during public worship is an act of obedience to God.
The Lord’s Supper is a Christian practice commanded by God. However, there are several important questions surrounding the practice, and different Christian traditions have answered these in different ways. Here are some of the key questions: Is Christ “present” in the meal? If so, how? Should Christians be baptized before they receive the Lord’s Supper? To whom is the table “open”? Church members? Any Christians? Anyone? Is the Lord’s Supper a way that God communicates his grace? How often should we practice it? What type of self-examination is required before receiving it? Can only ordained clergy members administer/oversee the bread and the wine, or can any Christian do it?
After the sermon this Sunday we’ll have a time for Q & A, so come with your questions!