The twenty-fifth Sunday of Pentecost – November 19, 2023

Holy Trinity Church – Tom Mount

 

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:14-20 or 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Introduction

  • Last week we considered the first of the Church’s two sacraments: holy baptism.
  • Sacrament = a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality. It points to something beyond the ritual. By participating in a ritual we participate in its deeper spiritual reality (1 Cor 10:16, 21).
  • Once again, we will use the six fact finding questions to explore baptism.

What is it?

  • In the NT, holy communion is referred to as, “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42) and “the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor 11:20). The early church called it Holy Communion (Ln.: communio = “mutual participation”) or the Eucharist (Gk.: eucharisteo = “give thanks”).
  • Definition: Holy communion is a sacred ritual and covenant meal enacted and commanded by our Lord which visibly symbolizes our covenant dependence on Christ as our mediator and savior and our unity with God and one another (Lk 22:20; Ex 24:9-11).
  • He is with us. “Doctrine of the Real Presence” vs. transubstantiation or memorialism.
  • Remember: “Christ is at the table, not on the table.”
  • The sacrament of holy communion commemorates our Lord’s past saving work (1 Cor 11:26), celebrates his current presence (Matt 28:20) and anticipates his future coming (Matt 26:29; Rev 19:9).

Who should participate?

  • All who are in covenant relationship with Lord Jesus and the Father through the Spirit.
  • In most traditions, it is reserved for baptized/confirmed believers within that tradition.
  • If you are not yet a Christian or if you are a believer but can’t partake in a “worthy way,” you should take a pass until the situation changes (1 Cor 11:27).
  • What about children? Parents should consult with Craig or me. Consider waiting until they are baptized.

When should we celebrate holy communion?

  • The directive: “As often as you eat/drink it” (1 Cor 11:25). Early church did so frequently: daily (Acts 2:46), each Sunday (Acts 20:7). It continues to be observed at least weekly in the major branches of Christian family tree.
  • In the Zwinglian tradition (most U.S. evangelical churches): once month/quarter.
  • Should it done privately? It is a communal meal and should normally be observed in community (Matt 18:20) but there can be exceptions.

Why observe holy communion?

  • It was commanded by our Lord! “Take, eat… “ (Mk 14:22)
  • It reaffirms our covenant relationship with God through Christ (Mk 12:24). We werfe once his enemies. We now commune with him in peace at the table of reconciliation because of our Mediator’s substitutionary death for our sins (Col 1:21-22).
  • It is a door to experience rich communion with the Lord by faith through a special grace.
  • It ritually enacts our “oneness” with him. We ingest him (John 6:53-57).
  • It symbolizes our oneness with each other: the one loaf represents one, united body of Christ (1 Cor 10:17).
  • It anticipates our Lord’s parousia and our reunion with him (Matt 26:29; Rev 19:9).

How and where should we observe it?

  • Where: anywhere we gather to honor him with gratitude and love (cf. Acts 2:46).
  • How: With reverence, awe, thankfulness and anticipation. Don’t reduce it!
  • At Holy Trinity: the table is central because our Lord is the host and honored dignitary at our covenant meal; we observe it weekly; we use baked bread with a gluten free option; we use juice (with a diluted wine option in the future?);; we try to major on the majors (reverence, anticipation, mystery, core meanings of the sacrament) and minor on the minors (type of bread, intinction vs small cups, etc.).

Questions?

Takeaways

  • If you have a covenant relationship with the Lord: come to the table!
  • If you don’t yet have assurance of a relationship of trust in Jesus Christ or if you are a believer but currently can’t partake in a “worthy manner,” wait for now.
  • Parents: prayerfully ask the Lord for wisdom to discern when your children are ready in consultation with Craig or me and whether baptism should precede it.