Lord’s Supper


For many years now I have harbored concerns about the way many churches practice the Lord’s Supper:

— We practice it too infrequently
— Our “supper” differs in appearance from that of the early church
— We make it a time of sadness and fear rather than joy and hope.

Too Infrequent

Biblically and historically, the Lord’s Supper has been a regular part of the Christian gathering. Only after the Reformation did the sermon replace the Supper as the most significant part of a service. Now, the Supper is rarely celebrated in many Protestant churches.

The early church seemed to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on a regular, if not weekly basis. In Acts 2:42 we read, “They [the Christian converts] were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (NET Bible) While this could be a reference to general communal eating, the context suggests otherwise. First, eating is not a Christian practice to which converts must devote themselves. Eating is a practice common to everyone regardless of their religious affiliation. Secondly, the surrounding activities are religious in nature: doctrinal teaching, fellowship, and prayer. It is best to understand this eating as the Eucharist meal.

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9780805447576_cvr_webA while back someone purchased The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes for me from my Ministry Resource List, for which I am always grateful.

I do a lot of reading, and had a number of books to get through before this one.  I had requested the book because it came highly recommended as a great resource on the subject, but to be honest, I was not on-the-edge-of-my-seat-excited to read it.  Like every other theologian, I am not equally interested in every theological topic, and the Lord’s Supper has never ranked too high on my list of theological priorities.

I grew up Catholic.  Communion was something we participated in weekly.  I never understood what it was all about, and didn’t care to.  It was just a ritual I went through (including the ritual of trying to get that sticky wafer off of the roof of my mouth with all sorts of clever tongue contortions).  When I converted to Pentecostal, I went from celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly to bi-annually or annually, so I had even less reason to give the topic much thought.  Sure, I studied the various positions and the historical debates on the nature and purpose of the Supper in seminary.  That piqued my interest a bit, but more from a historical perspective than a personal interest in my own practice of the Supper.  I saw the Supper as a memorial, through that we should do it (and more frequently than we usually do as Protestants), but never got much out of it personally.  Then, I read this book.  It has greatly enhanced my appreciation for the importance and significance of this ordinance instituted by none other than Jesus Himself.  There are many nuances to the Supper that most of us pass over.  This book draws them out.

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