Communion: Please, Sir, I Want Some More

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CommunionOliver Twist and scores of other orphan boys toiled in the miserable existence of a workhouse. They labored long hours subsisting on three paltry meals of gruel, a watery food substance of unknown character offering little nutritional value.

On one occasion, the boys drew lots to determine who would represent them to ask for more food. Oliver was selected and timidly moved forward with his bowl in his hands to make the iconic request, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

One of the caretakers shrieked, “What? More?” And Oliver and the other boys were chased around the tables by a band of well-fed caretakers.[1]

Our understanding of symbolism at the Lord’s Table has degenerated into a substance of unknown character offering little nutritional value. We know we have a spiritual mandate to regularly observe it, yet often wonder if this is all there is.

So why couldn’t we ask for more within the parameters of our doctrines and denominations without being chased around the Table by a band of well-fed doctrinal caretakers?

For many congregations, observing Communion has become so routine that it no longer calls forth the reality it symbolizes. So there is a need to discover it again with such freshness that it would be like experiencing it for the first time.[2]

Asking for more might cause us to grieve and weep, but it also might cause us to celebrate and shout.

Asking for more means the remembrance is rarely manifested in the same way twice. And that’s why we return often.

Asking for more means we mourn Jesus’ death and burial, but also celebrate his resurrection and promised return.

Asking for more not only remembers how his sacrifice impacted our past, but also how it will influence our future.

Asking for more means that it’s not just Jesus’ story but also our story as we’re invited to step into his story.

Asking for more means we must actively engage, not passively observe.

Asking for more doesn’t change the physical characteristics of the elements, it changes us.

Once we grasp the magnitude of that symbolism at the Communion Table we’ll never again have to ask if this is all there is. In fact, we may actually receive immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).

 

[1] Oliver Twist is the second novel written by author, Charles Dickens and was first published as a serial from 1837-39.

[2] Adapted from Kenneth Chafin, “Discovering and Preaching the Ordinances Again for the First Time,” in Proclaiming the Baptist Vision: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, ed. Walter B. Shurden (Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 1999), 129.

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One Response to “Communion: Please, Sir, I Want Some More”

  • Rev. Michael Mueller Says:

    The Lord’s Supper Explained

    The Real Presence
    The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a partaking of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a partaking of the body of Christ? Because we, the many, are one bread, one body, for we all partake of the One Bread. I Corinthians 10:16-17 LITV
    So, what exactly do we receive in the Lord’s Supper? You know we start with a bottle of ordinary wine and some little pieces of unleavened bread. These elements are set apart for special use—consecrated—and the Words of Institution are spoken over them. These are the same words Christ spoke when He began—instituted—the Lord’s Supper with His disciples.
    Now, if you judge by your senses alone or let your reason rule, what would you say you receive in this Supper? Well, the elements still look, smell, taste and feel like ordinary bread and wine. Some church bodies would stop there. They would believe they only receive ordinary bread and wine. To them, they ‘represent’ or ‘symbolize’ something which is not truly present.
    Other church bodies would teach that this bread and wine are changed into something else. They still have the same appearance, but they are actually changed physically into Christ’s body and blood. Though what you receive seems to be bread and wine, you are not actually receiving those elements, but something else.
    The Bible teaches neither of these things. It speaks of this cup which we bless and bread which we break. Thereby what we receive remains bread and wine. It is not changed into something else. Yet, the text also teaches that the cup is a “partaking” of the blood of Christ, and the bread a “partaking” of the body of Christ. In receiving the bread and wine, we also receive Christ’s body and blood. We receive what was sacrificed for us upon the cross.
    Christ is really present in this Sacrament. Even if we cannot fully understand how it happens, we accept by faith that He can accomplish whatever He promises. (Just like when Christ promised to be truly present with us whenever two or three gather in His Name.) This He does by supplying us with His true body and blood, in, with, and under the bread and wine—to strengthen and preserve your faith!

    Preparation to Receive the Supper
    So that whoever should eat this bread, or drink the cup of the Lord, unworthily, that one will be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and let him drink of the cup; for he eating and drinking unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. For this reason many among you are weak and feeble, and many sleep (have died). For if we discerned ourselves, we would not be judged. But being judged, we are corrected by the Lord, that we not be condemned with the world. I Corinthians 11:27-31 LITV
    How shall we prepare to receive this awesome gift from our Lord? The text speaks of receiving the Sacrament unworthily which results in judgment. How do we then properly prepare? How can we make ourselves worthy?
    That question must first be answered by saying that we cannot make ourselves worthy. We are unable to rid ourselves of sin. We cannot purify our hearts. Because we are unable, the Lord must make us worthy. This He did upon the cross. Now, those same elements of His sacrifice upon the cross are offered to us here—His body and His blood.
    If we come to the altar feeling good about ourselves, thinking we are not poor, miserable sinners, then we are rejecting the gift offered at His Table. The gift is offered for sinners who are in need of forgiveness. If we judge ourselves as free from sin, we have no business coming to His Table. If we instead examine and judge ourselves and find that we are sinners in need of cleansing then the Lord makes us worthy to receive His body and blood.
    The text mentions failure to discern the Lord’s body and blood which simply means to not recognize what you are receiving. This is the second part of our preparation for receiving the Lord’s Supper—that we understand what we are receiving. This is why we instruct our youth (and adults) in confirmation classes prior to serving them.

    Close Communion
    And they were continuing steadfastly in the doctrine of the apostles, and in fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. LITV Acts 2:42
    For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and giving thanks, He broke and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken on behalf of you; this do in remembrance of Me. In the same way the cup also, after supping, saying, This cup is the New Covenant in My blood; as often as you drink, do this in remembrance of Me. For as often as you may eat this bread, and drink this cup, you solemnly proclaim the death of the Lord, until He shall come. LITV I Corinthians 11:23-26
    Why do we not just invite everyone in our Sunday service to the Lord’s Table? The text from Acts points out that the early Christians were steadfast in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship along with the breaking of bread. The breaking of bread is a reference to partaking of the Lord’s Supper. These people were joined in doctrine and fellowship along with the reception of the Lord’s Supper.
    Further, the text from I Corinthians indicates that in receiving the Lord’s Supper, we are “proclaiming the Lord’s death.” In other words we make a statement about what we believe when we receive the Supper. We publicly confess that we agree with the teachings of those with whom we commune.
    Being a member of a church indicates to other people that you agree with what that church teaches—a public confession of what you believe. Paul said if there is a sincere dispute as to the interpretation of Scripture, we should let God judge at the end (I Corinthians 4:5). However, you cannot agree with two different teachings. And these differences are important, for we are commanded to guard the precious Gospel by remaining true to what Scripture teaches (I Timothy 1:3).

    Blessings of the Lord’s Supper
    And as they ate, taking the bread and blessing it, Jesus broke and gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And taking the cup, and giving thanks, He gave to them, saying, Drink all of it. For this is My blood of the New Covenant which concerning many is being poured out for remission of sins. Matthew 26:26-28 LITV
    The first and foremost benefit we receive is mentioned by Christ in His institution in the words of the text: “My blood of the New Covenant which concerning many is being poured out for remission (forgiveness) of sins.” We receive it in an individual, one-on-one basis. This forgiveness is “for you.” This is in contrast to our group general confession and absolution, where you receive forgiveness as a group.
    This supper also strengthens our faith. I Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as you may eat this bread, and drink this cup, you solemnly proclaim the death of the Lord, until He shall come.” In the Supper, our Lord holds before us the very price that was paid to secure the promises He makes to us. Christ paid with His body and blood, and in receiving them we are reminded of the promises of our Lord. This causes us to be renewed and strengthened in our faith in Christ and His promises.
    Thanks be to the One who comes to us in His very body and blood—Jesus Christ!

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