The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Many of you have seen the quote from C.S. Lewis regarding how people should live in an “atomic age”, with the reality that a bomb might drop upon them and wipe them out at any moment. It was an important question that many people were asking and it makes sense to apply that to our situation today in dealing with the fear of the Coronavirus.
I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of devotional videos that pastors are distributing and I find that to be one of the best responses to this time of social isolation. Most of these devotionals are helping the church cope with their current fears and pointing them to find comfort in God’s Word and prayer.
But, I would also like to encourage all of us to think beyond the present crisis. We ought to fill our minds with good theology and meditate upon all of Scripture. In fact, during WWII, as everyone feared for their safety, C.S. Lewis began addressing the public with a series of messages on BBC Radio, that eventually became his best work, Mere Christianity.
If you have ever read the book, there is very little about their present crisis. In an effort to comfort and encourage his listening audience, he addressed a subject that was much more important than the war—he turned their attention to consider God. He set their minds on heavenly things so that they might more eagerly persevere through their earthly trials.
This week, I want us to consider the Lord’s Supper
Maybe that sounds like an interesting topic in light of the fact that most of us will not be able to partake of communion for several weeks or more. But, that is all the more reason to understand its value for believers.
I would not be surprised if we see some churches encouraging people to take communion by themselves, or with their own families. These are things people already do, and I think it would be helpful to understand why that is probably a bad idea.
Unfortunately, communion chaos is nothing new. The first example we have comes right out of the first-century church. Paul had to give a stern rebuke to the Corinthians for their practice, which was so corrupt that Paul said they were worse off for gathering together. He said what they were doing was so far off-base, they were not taking the Lord’s Supper at all.
1 Corinthians 11:17–22 (ESV): 17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
Paul argues that they should eat and drink in their own homes so that they are not coming to church and turning communion into a drunken feast. The Lord’s Supper was to be handled with reverence and celebration, but they had turned it into a party filled with over-indulging.
You cannot participate in communion by yourself, nor can you do it virtually. It is a sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ in order that, as we partake in faith, we might remember his sacrificial death and be strengthened by our communion in his body and blood.
Every church considers several questions in how they participate. Should we use leavened or unleavened bread? Should we use wine or juice? Should we have a common loaf and a common cup? What exactly did Jesus and his disciples use on the night the sacrament was instituted?
These are some of the questions we will consider in this series.