14When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." Luke 22:14-20, NASB
Holy Week approaches, millions of Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate His death and resurrection. Yet for many of these people, Easter Sunday may be the only Sunday, or perhaps just one of several, where the Lord's Supper is celebrated at their church. I'm less interested in engaging in a theological debate (which has been settled since the day of the Apostles) but more interested in commenting on what I see as a modern culture shift in some parts of the Church.
A friend of mine attends a modern evangelical-styled church in her community. It's pretty typical of what you'd expect from that kind of service; upbeat Contemporary Christian music from a full band/praise team, impassioned prayer from the praise team leader, and a fast-paced, uplifting sermon. I asked her if they ever observed the Lord's Supper (they didn't the time I visited with her.) She told me that they did, but only about every six weeks or so, because they wanted it to be special, and not be just some ritual done every Sunday that loses its meaning and importance.
That bothered me.
The first thing that struck me was that if the congregation is losing sight of the meaning and importance of the Lord's Supper, seeing it only as a ritual, then the preachers and leadership of that (and any similar congregation) are failing to keep the extreme importance of the Eucharist in the front of the flock's minds.
The second was that perhaps the people in that congregation didn't want to reflect upon the deep meaning of the communion Supper. At least not every Sunday.
"Do this in remembrance of Me..."
There's nothing wrong at all with offering Him joyous praise and worship, or edifying and uplifting the flock with sermons to help them live and love better.
But, He asked us to do one thing, very specifically.
Remember the pain inflicted upon His Body
Remember the blood which flowed from His wounds.
Remember that He endured it for us.
Remember that He suffered, bled, and died, not for who we are in the world, but for what we all are.
Sinners. Sinners in desperate need of His Love, Grace and Mercy.
One of the deeper meanings of the Lord's Supper isn't so much to remind us of our own sins, but to remind us that our neighbors, our co-workers, everyone that we could meet or even imagine is in that same sinking boat with us. As much as it serves to remind us of what we are and who we become in Him, it serves as a call to each of us to take people by the hand and say, "All things are ready, come to the feast." Or, in other words, "The Spirit and the Bride say, "come.""
It is a moment to look inward, and be grateful; and a call to reach outward, and display that gratitude.
In the Lord's Supper, we proclaim His death, His burial, and His resurrection until He returns...and we also proclaim our deaths and our new lives in His Kingdom as we "do this."
It seems to me that it is far too easy for we simple humans to forget that the work of salvation at the Cross was His work, that He told us was "finished", and to forget that our work, internally and externally, begins at the Table.
That Table defines us, charges us with a task, and ultimately reminds us of our brotherhood and commonality with everyone around us. We all need Him. The Lord's Supper is not mere ritual, nor is it a boundary that sets us apart from those around us. It is a deep reminder that, as Christ broke the boundary of what separates us from the Father, we must break the boundary of what separates us from our brothers and sisters....