In my last blog post in this series, we talked about the Sermon, which is God’s Word proclaimed to the people. Every good sermon preaches the gospel—the good news of how God has saved us from our sin and misery through the shed blood of Christ. Having heard the gospel, now we illustrate it and take it in, as it were, through the Lord’s Supper. Also called Holy Communion, this sacrament means many things. It nourishes us spiritually for the Christian life. It unifies us as a body of Christ, the church. It assures us that we share in Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross. Communion is more than just about remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a sign and seal of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. So that as we eat the bread and wine, we are assured that Jesus died for us too, and that our sins are truly forgiven. As the writers of the Heidelberg Catechism say, “As surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup given to me, so surely his blood was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross.” So we receive an assurance of our salvation through this sacred meal. Perhaps that is more than enough. But I like how Professor Jamie Smith describes this meal as having “supper with the King” (Desiring the Kingdom [Baker Academic], 197). It is a reminder that one day we will eat another meal with the risen and reigning Lord: the wedding feast of the Lamb. As Jesus says to the disciples at his Last Supper with them: “For I tell you that I will not eat again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:16) How blessed we are that God uses the basic stuff of earth—bread and wine—to assures us of the gospel and nourish us unto salvation. How blessed we are to have a King that invites us to eat with him at his table, where we are formed spiritually for his kingdom service, and assured that we belong to him. So let us lift up our hearts to the Lord through the sacrament of Communion.
I’m currently reading The Story of Christianity (Revised and Updated Edition), by Justo L. Gonzalez (HarperOne, 2010). I forgot how much I enjoy church history! As I read about the Early Church, I’m reminded of the importance they placed on Easter. The Jews gathered for worship on the Sabbath Day (Saturday), in honor of the day God rested after creation. But after Jesus’ resurrection, the Christians gathered for worship on the first day of the week (Sunday), in honor of Christ’s resurrection. And the tradition has continued for most Followers of Christ. Gonzalez observes the main purpose of this Sunday gathering was to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. And the primary way they did that was through the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. And because these early Communion services focused on the resurrection of Jesus, they were joyful occasions, not the somber Lord’s Supper services that many have grown up with. Actually, it was only after the Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century that many churches began to focus their worship service on the preaching of the Word over Communion. I wanted to share this with you as we begin our Easter celebration. Easter is the moment we’ve been waiting for, the climax of the Christian year. So, how can we make it the grand celebration it’s supposed to be? N. T. Wright, in his book, Surprised by Hope (HarperOne, 2008), suggests that during the season of Easter, we pull out all the stops. Really celebrate. Also add new things to our lives as we celebrate new life in Christ. Practice the spiritual discipline of celebration. Jesus has risen! New life has begun. For this reason, I rejoice that we are conducting Alpha this Easter season. A great way to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord as we break bread together and become more devoted students of Christ. He has risen! . . .