With the re-engaging of in-person worship services, I thought it’d be helpful to reteach on the practice of the Lord’s Supper as we desire to offer this on a regular (weekly) basis.
An Ancient Symbol
In Luke’s account of the very first observance of communion he includes these words of Jesus: “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The gospel, which means “good news,” is that Jesus came to die for and save sinners. Because it is news, it is primarily communicated with words. News always spreads via communication. However, the gospel is more than just information. It is deep enough and powerful enough that one can never fully grasp or exhaust it from every angle this side of eternity. It took the literal death of God’s Son to redeem a sinful humanity. As such, Jesus commands us to commemorate his death via the observation of this simple “meal” made up of bread and wine. This meal is meant for us to remember him. It is not the sole or even the central act of our Sunday worship, but it is a necessary and regular one.
At Engage we are unashamedly and passionately committed to the preaching of the full counsel of God as contained in the Scriptures. Faith comes from hearing. And you can expect the Word of God to be central at our gatherings. However, there are aspects of our faith that will never be fully grasped until we see Jesus face to face (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 13:12). One of these aspects is the regular practice of communion. While the gospel is good news, it is much more than simple information that we must absorb. Jesus wants us to “drink deeply” of him and invite his presence into our lives. As such, we regularly (ie: weekly) participate in the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of this.
There is an aspect of this that is a mystery. Scripture doesn’t spell out in detail how Christ is “experienced” in the act of participating in Communion, but rest assured of this: Jesus wants you to remember him and he is the central figure of this sacred act. Don’t enter into it lightly. It is a mysterious and meaningful embrace of a God that desires to draw near to you: so near that he gave his flesh and blood on a cross to bring you back to himself.
We make it a regular part of our weekly worship to offer communion. Jesus commanded us to “do this in remembrance of [him].” As such it is our joy to do this regularly and reverently in obedience to him. We welcome any baptized believers who trust Christ for salvation and have a clear conscience with their community (Matthew 5:23-24) to participate. Normally, we offer gluten free matzah as well as both wine and juice (out of sensitivity to those who have convictions or temptations surrounding alcohol).
However, during this time of pandemic, we offer only pre-packaged single-serving communion packets consisting of a wafer and grape juice. We do this out of an abundance of caution for those in our community and to do our part in protecting against the spread of the virus.
A Sensory Experience
This is an activity that touches all our senses with the gospel as we see, touch, taste, and smell the wine and juice and hear the words, “his body was broken for you, his blood was shed for you.” Jesus wants us to remember his sacrificial act to redeem us and reclaim us as his own. He has initiated this practice for just this purpose.
The information age we live in has no shortage of sensory stimuli. Our brains must quickly determine what they will allow to be retained and what they will resist and forget. Words are many and every corner has something or someone vying for your attention. It is possible to “hear” the gospel from a hundred angles yet never truly grasp its importance. The Church has a long standing tradition of practices that slow us down, draw us to Christ, and help us to focus on him. In an age of distraction, we believe Communion is just one necessary example. Jesus came to disrupt the monotony of life and claim himself as the center of it. We are glad to receive this regular invitation to recommit ourselves to him and receive his gift of himself that was freely offered on the cross at Calvary.
In an age of information, one does not need to “attend” church to obtain the information necessary to accept the gospel. But the act of the church gathered and somberly “eating” and “drinking” of Christ cannot be transferred simply via words written or spoken. It must be entered into with our physical bodies. Jesus took on flesh (John 1:14) and the life we live is done in the body. We are more than just brains on a stick and we need more than information to save our souls. We need a savior capable of defeating death, an enemy none of us are capable of defeating. Jesus is the savior we need and he gave his life to save us. We believe this act of regularly observing the Lord’s Supper offers a tangible encounter with the risen Lord. It taps into humanity’s innate desire for transcendence. So come, gather with us, and if you are trusting in Christ, dine with us at the Lord’s table. While you won’t be full from this meager weekly meal we hope it whets your appetite for a greater feast we’ll enjoy in paradise together in a soon-promised coming day:
“Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!”
NOTE: this is partially adapted from a previous and much longer post, “A Primer on the Lord’s Supper” which explains in more detail some of the background and meaning of Communion.