Biblical Messages, Uncategorized

Communion FAQs

We enjoy celebrating the Lord’s Supper once in the summer at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton.  But not often do we talk about some of the key assumptions about our celebration of God’s grace!  So this week, we remedied that – at least in part.

Last Monday, I had my gallbladder removed, but I decided that wouldn’t keep me from preaching this week, it being Communion Sunday and all.  And it didn’t, but you will probably be able to tell in listening to this message that I don’t have my usual energy and sometimes seem out of breath.  I should have taken the Sunday off, but I didn’t.  So you get to listen to a message highlighting answers to some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that I hear about the Lord’s Supper.  Based on 1 Corinthians 11.17-34, you can listen to the message here:

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Biblical Messages

Communion and Community

Often, Christians come to the Lord’s Table and think it’s a “you in your small corner and I in mine” kind of experience, where we meet with the Lord one-to-one, and there just happen to be other people around.  But that’s not what Communion is supposed to be at all!  It should be a gathering of God’s people – together – being in such a good relationship with each other that there is nothing separating us from each other, or from God.

Reality often shows us that human relationships are not always what they’re supposed to be, but Jesus envisioned better for us.  As we approached the Lord’s Table today, we heard a message based on Matthew 5.21-26, and Matthew 18.15-17.

During this message, I showed the video you can watch here.  Listen to the message and consider your relationships with fellow Christ-followers.

Biblical Messages

The Means of Grace

There’s lots about the life of the church that we do but would be hard pressed to explain.  One of those things is the Lord’s Supper.  In this message, I CB064070seek to help us understand a little bit more about what it means to share together in Communion.  The Eucharist is, for us, the means of grace.

Based on 1 Corinthians 11.17-34, you can listen to the message by clicking here.

Book Reviews

Book Review: “The Sacred Meal” by Nora Gallagher

It has been a long time – too long a time, really – since I posted a book review.  But I completed a little book this evening, which had been recommended to me by a friend, so I will give it a little plug.

As the title suggests, The Sacred Meal is about the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Holy Communion.  (It is part of “The Ancient Practices Series” of books edited by Phyllis Tickle, and published by Thomas Nelson.)  The author is a writer and novelist who is also a lay altar server in her local Episcopal Church in California; she writes from those perspectives, and her writing suggests that she might find herself a bit left-of-centre in the Episcopal theological spectrum.

If we look at the Lord’s Supper as having two primary players – Jesus and us – Gallagher writes as an incarnationalist and a communalist, if I may employ those two terms as a matter of my own interpretation of the book.  She strings together a variety of stories, mostly from her own experience, which highlight the importance of the Eucharist as a gathering of people from all walks of life and all manner of baggage attached.  She also writes with a very human understanding of Jesus.

While I would assess that her good intentions also reveal a somewhat flawed hermeneutic – from my rather more conservative, Reformed perspective – Gallagher also gives us some very helpful thoughts to consider in our celebration of Communion, irrespective of the tradition in which we celebrate it.  For example, as part of her recounting of one serving experience, she says, “Holy Communion was a web, a web of people who were being stitched together.  And tomorrow, we would need to be stitched together again.  Over and over.  One person to the next” (p. 6).

And the Lord is part of that stitching.  She writes, “Jesus wanted his disciples and everyone who came after him to remember what they had together.  What they made together.  What it meant to be together.  How the things he wanted them to do could not be done alone.  How the things he did could not have been done without them” (p. 24, emphasis hers).  Too often, many in the church see a communion-less Communion:  It’s “Jesus ‘n’ me,” instead of “Jesus and us.”  We are all in this together at the Lord’s Table.  Our individualistic approach causes us to lose perspective on the communal nature of our celebration.

Gallagher emphasizes the importance of frequent celebration when she writes, “The regular practice of Communion is meant to help us move from being the citizens of an empire to the citizens of heaven” (p. 34).

Many of her stories are heartwarming; some are heart-wrenching; all make the reader think about what the sacred meal can be for participants.  While I don’t agree with everything in this book, I think it is well worth the 137-page read.

Nora Gallagher, The Sacred Meal.  Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 2009.  ISBN 978-0-8499-0092-1.