The Sacramental Life-- Renewed, Restored, Revived
Grace and peace to you all!
Since World Communion Sunday, we have begun the practice of celebrating Holy Communion every Sunday at the 10:50 a.m. worship service. We’ve had seasons of weekly observance before. However, this time it is not just for a season, not just until we decide not to, but every Sunday from now on as a living expression of our renewal in Jesus.
Whether you call it the Eucharist (a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”), the Lord's Supper, or Communion, the act of remembering Jesus in the breaking of bread and drinking from a common cup is an essential act that characterizes Christian worship. It also identifies our life together as one through whom the sacramental life is claimed and lived out.
I've heard from some of you that weekly Communion is a welcomed change and that celebrating at the table is the most meaningful act of worship in your week. Others have had questions about why we would observe the Lord's Supper every week.
We are a church with a strong commitment to feeding God's people. The central meal in the life of our congregation is the one we share in the Eucharist. From there, we are empowered to serve food at The Way, at Soup Kitchen, and through our Food Pantry.
The historical reasons for which weekly communion could not be observed no longer apply. We have clergy authorized to preside the table every Sunday. And the instruction of the General Conference is that “Word and Table” is to be our regular worship expression.
John Wesley would be supportive: "God offers you one of the greatest mercies on this side heaven, and commands you to accept it. Why do not you accept this mercy, in obedience to his command?" His sermon, “The Duty of Constant Communion,” is a powerful word of instruction for “the people called Methodists,” in his day, and one that applies in ours.
During this season of great ferment and upset within The United Methodist Church, I believe our witness as a congregation gathered around the table makes a difference. I’ve often said that if we loved Jesus more than our positions we could make a way out of that which seems intractable.
Last year we commissioned a table around which we’d gather. One pushed wide at the edges. Our regular gathering around that table is another outward and visible sign of the Reign of God coming into being.
I’ve been moved by the opportunities afforded people to participate in the leadership of communion as communion servers. You want to see an impact on people serving communion? Watch for children who serve with a parent, a mentor. Listen to people say words to others they heretofore have only heard spoken to them – “The body of Christ, the blood of Christ broken and shed for you.” And your invitation to serve is given. Just sign up here to claim a Sunday to do so.
John Wesley believed that Communion was a “converting ordinance,” which means he believed one could find Christ in it and be changed forever as a result of having found him. And if our charge is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” then that’s a manner of evangelism I want to be a part of every time we gather.
Please feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and ideas as we continue to build community together at St. John's.
Meet you at the Table of Grace.