It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right

Coloured woodcut of the Marburg Colloquy, anon...

Coloured woodcut of the Marburg Colloquy, anonymous, 1557 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stammering and stumbling through a lesson that rendered me feeling much like a student taking finals who has squandered his study time for the benefit of an Angry Bird all-nighter (you’d have to have read around here awhile to get that one), my growing impression was that I should have left this one in the “for my eyes only” file.

The challenge set forth (self-induced of course) was to defend my denomination’s take on the Lord’s Supper (that should give some clue as to my denomination). Honestly though, my study into the archives of church history’s observation of this ordinance has left me with many more questions than answers. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

At this stage, I have a couple of conclusions that I believe are factual. First, it appears obvious that there has always been a contention within the body as to the elements of the Lord’s Supper (even in the first centuries… check it out). To drive personal stances home, it appears we disguise our disagreements with uncommon lingo like transubstantiation, consubstantiation, real presence, and the memorial approach presented by Zwingli. It’s like… whoever can come up with the most difficult term to define is maybe the winner?

Maybe more importantly though is the intense observance of this sacrament/ ordinance prior to the most recent century of church history. These people were serious about this feast! It was once said of the division between Luther and Zwingli over the elements, “We weep because of the controversies surrounding the Lord’s Supper.” How much more sorrowful is the indifference to its meaning and importance we see in the church today?

Why should being in service when the Lord’s Supper is prepared preempt stuff such as football games, fishing trips, or maybe just sheer apathy? Is it enough that Jesus told us to?

About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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8 Responses to It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right

  1. ccragamuffin says:

    What are we doing in this sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? It may help to look at the word “sacrament”…it is a visible sign. Signs give direction to something. They point. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper points to something else, something outside the physical realm, to the divine message of sacrificial redemption. We are heralding an eternal message, preaching a spiritual sermon, participating in a Christ centered celebration. It’s a tremendously beautiful and significant sign. But throughout history, man has become enamored by signs and fallen pray to worshipping the sign instead of the Sign Sender. Remember how King Hezekiah had to destroy the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the Hebrews began worshipping it? Maybe it is our tendency to worship signs that has motivated faithful men and woman to look askance not just at the worship of the signs, but often at the sign, or “sacrament” itself. To keep from the error of sign worship, there is almost a sign devaluation…can’t have the sacrament be too sacred, or the mystery too mystical. Let’s keep this very ordinary and a just a way of remembering. And yet…”For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Proclaim. Kataggello. To herald a message in a binding way. Reminds me of John…a voice crying in the wilderness…Prepare the way of the Lord. Maybe we could think of our celebrations of the Lord’s Supper as preparing paths for the Lord. And setting up some signs. Just a humbly offered thought.

    • mtsweat says:

      Humbly accepted! (Can one show humbleness with an exclamation mark?) An excellent set of points and response. I believe it was (off the cuff) Luther who took so great offense of the sign being confused with “what (Who) was being signified.” Short reply here… work calls, but trust me, I must return to your points. Thanks cc!

  2. Some Christian denominations that hold this view include the United Church of Christ, the Baptist Church , the Disciples of Christ, and the Mennonites. The Plymouth Brethren hold the Lord’s Supper, or the Breaking of Bread, instituted in the upper room on Christ’s betrayal night, to be the weekly remembrance feast enjoyed on all true Christians. They celebrate the supper in utmost simplicity. Among “closed” Brethren assemblies usually any one of the brothers gives thanks for the loaf and the cup. In conservative “open” Brethren assemblies usually two different brothers give thanks, one for the loaf and the other for the cup. In liberal “open” Brethren assemblies (or churches/community chapels, etc.) sisters also participate with audible prayer.

  3. jelillie says:

    By doing this we remember His death until HE comes again! It is so important we participate in communion!

  4. Good article. I think you might have a point on the terminology 🙂 And yes, they were (and many still are) very serious about this Feast. I’ve gotten totally lost in this discussion more times than I can count.

    • mtsweat says:

      It’s always surprising to me as I take a closer look at how the church has handled things throughout history to find how little it often resembles how we do what we do today. I’m trying to learn to be a little more cautious of a presumptious attitude based on “what I’ve always been taught.” Stil (human nature I guess), the tendancy is to read Scripture with a biased expectancy to see what has been drilled in for most of my life. Blessings good friend.

      • Good point, that. Part of what started me on this, other than Jess’s site was growing up in an E&R and then joining a Lutheran church, some differences there!

        Blessing to you as well, my friend.

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