Gospel ministers are sometimes referred to as ministers of the Word and sacrament. There’s no need to freak out over the word sacrament; here it means the same thing as ordinance. Not only in reference to the work of ministers, but all Reformed definitions of a church require these two elements as well, often including the third element of church discipline, which actually is hard to disentangle from the Word and sacrament.
Why both, Word and sacrament? Isn’t the Word enough? Many in the truth-tube camp–our camp–only look out one side of the car. We have trouble tripping too many steps outside our minds, usually for fear of falling into the material. For example, we gladly affirm the miracles of Jesus. We’re perhaps even more glad that we don’t have to fit miracles on our shelves today. Surely we’ll all turn into Benny Hinn healers or Joel Osteen prosperers if we think that Jesus might actually do something we could see.
Visible things didn’t make Jesus nervous. He did many wonderful works that confirmed His word. His word prepared the way for His works to be understood and the works gave the words gravity.
The same is true with this meal. It is real, and the physical nature of the bread and cup do not make them lesser class citizens. God loves the tangible, He made it and He became it, with body and blood and stuff. Without the Word to explain it, we would be ignorant in our eating and drinking. But when we receive the Word, we aren’t just going through the motions at this table until we can get our super spiritual Casper capes.
The Word became flesh. Do we believe in the actual incarnation? He died and rose so that we might live. He is food for us. This meal confirms and builds our belief in His Word. Let us not despise what God has put together, Word and sacrament, faith and food.