The Gloomy Ordinance

I am increasingly concerned with a perspective that many Christians seem to be taking toward what has become the gloomy ordinance. One post about the Lord’s supper will not be sufficient to blow away the clouds that have covered us. There needs be much said, but it doesn’t all need to be said today.

Another name for the Lord’s supper is communion. Note that the ordinance the Lord gave us was about communion, not confession.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

Yes, according to the apostle Paul, many have fallen asleep because they ate and drank unworthily. “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (11:27). If we are worshipping other gods or the true God with half-hearts, Paul gives grave warning.

But if we are beholding the glory of the Lord, worshipping by grace through faith in Christ, then when we partake of the bread and the cup in communion, we share in His body and blood and we share that with each other. When we give thanks for each element, we aren’t giving thanks because we saw and confessed every last sin. We give thanks because by His body and blood He overcame all the obstacles blocking communion. This table doesn’t require us to remember every last sin we’ve committed, it requires us to remember Him who is our Savior.

Communion is not an ordinance of dismal mourning, it is an ordinance of thoughtful rejoicing. We remember the death of Christ, and in so doing we remember that it was our sin that causes His death. But He is no longer dead and we are no longer in our sins. We rejoice in our participation with Him and with each other.

Sharing What We Got

Meals that are centered on gratitude and thanksgiving—like harvest home festivals and this Eucharistic meal—are never times for grabbing and getting your own. We not allowed to pretend that the blessing we enjoy begins with us. We must not refuse the son of David if the son of David is the one who set the table in the first place. And He has, and so we come with gratitude and a willingness to imitate the attitude that blessed us, which means a willingness to share and to overflow.

—Doug Wilson, Nabals at the Supper

Communion with God

[To the Puritans], communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing. The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not. The measure of our concern is the little that we say about it. When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience with God.

—J.I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 215