It is the Supper of Our Lord
by Robert J. Young

Only about three decades ago, in the civil rights movement, people fought over who would be allowed to sit at dime store lunch counters. One must give segregationists credit. They saw clearly that to share food with another person is to risk conversion, and this says much about who we are. Something happens when people eat together, at a table, sharing nourishment.

We have come to eat the supper. Amidst much else good that we will do--this is supreme. While with our Restoration movement heritage some may say we eat because the early church did so and that we must follow their example, Paul would say, I think, that we eat (1) because the supper has a formative, sanctifying power on the church individually and corporately, and (2) because in the Supper there is a model experience for Christians.

I. We are Body--with implications for communion, fellowship, sharing, and participation.

II. It is no small thing we do as body

III. What are we about to do?
The closing prayer of Cranmer's service says it well:
O Lord and heavenly father....grant that by the merits and death of thy son JC, and thru faith in his blood, we and all thy whole church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his Passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, holy and lively sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that all we which be partakers of this holy communion, may be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction.
Cranmer's invitation to communion sets a needed tone:
You that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins and be in love and charity with your neighbors and intent to lead a new life following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways, draw near, and take this holy sacrament to your comfort.

Often lost among us is that we approach the table with the intention of living in love and charity with our neighbors. We leave the table formed again into a lively sacrifice for our God and for our neighbors. There are tremendous ethical implications in the supper--we are growing into who we are and are to be.

It is helpful then to look at gospel accounts. What do you see?

All would provide helpful thought for considering what we shall do. We are here proclaiming who God is, and our commitment to be like him. We must be taught each week how to remember, how to eat, and how to live. Here is the drama of repetition, a rehearsal of sorts, ordinary, commonplace, mundane, same.
So much sameness. The same bread, the same fruit from the simple grape vine, how dare we bless it and call it holy? The same persons you meet in the marketplace--the same butcher whom you think cheated you last week, the same coworker whom you know to be a closet drunk, the list is endless, and we ourselves are not immune from evil. How dare we offer the body and blood to such and call ourselves holy?

I will not miss the table. Christianity is often a tortured process, belief/doubt, examination/belief. But more often it is the simple things--following a way of life, eating at the family's table, adopting the language, manners, memories, and tastes. I am becoming one with this family.
Indeed, it is no little thing we do when we eat. And thus it is no little thing I say when I urge you to cleanse your hearts, seek your God, find your Lord, depend upon his blood for salvation.
Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled. Are you hungry for God today? Will you again hunger for the living word tonight? Will you answer your hunger tomorrow in the communion of the word and prayer? Will you be hungry Wednesday?
Often our world wonders what the church is, who is a Xn. When Paul needed to tell the Cor church the answer to such questions, he pointed to the broken bread, the wine, and the sinners seated at the feast together. At the table each week, the unexpected Kingdom takes visible shape. Our eyes are opened, the past is once again present in the simple supper.
I am reconciled, cleansed, recommitted. Before we partake today, we sing, we invite, God calls. Those away from him are called home. Will you become part of his family, will you be reunited with his family, and will you then eat with us at the table he has prepared. Come, as we stand and sing.

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Last updated February 23, 2001.