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16 & 17 March 2024 (Pastoral Page) HOLY COMMUNION – JUST A SIMPLE MEAL?

By Dr Daniel Chan


Most church goers are familiar with the Christian rite of Holy Communion which was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. His instructions are found in the gospels and in 1 Corinthians and are often read out during the service.


Yet despite, or perhaps because of our familiarity, we sometimes approach the Holy Communion without much reflection. That would be a pity, because Holy Communion is given to help us in our spiritual journey. It is rich in significance, and I would like to share three personal reflections.


The Holy Communion is a sign that points to Jesus’s sacrifice for us on the cross.

“Do this in remembrance of me.” By these words, Jesus asks us to regularly remember the cross because it is the centre of the gospel and the foundation of our Christian life. We may be thankful for God’s answers to our prayers and his many gifts, yet be forgetful of his greatest gift, the gift of His Son as our sin bearer. For Christ Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes we were healed. (1 Pet 2:24).

 

Lest I forget Gethsemane,

Lest I forget Thine agony,

Lest I forget Thy love for me,

Lead me to Calvary.

 

The Holy Communion is the seal of the New Covenant.

A seal is used in important documents to attest that they are genuine and not forgeries. At the Last Supper, Jesus took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:25). Whenever we take the cup, we remember Jesus’s proclamation that God has made a New Covenant with us through the shedding of His blood on the cross. As new covenant people, we have been washed with water and cleaned up, given the Holy Spirit, and have God’s law written in our hearts. Through His sacrifice, we are His people, and He is our God.


As God cannot breach his own covenantal commitments, Paul could say with assurance that “God who has begun a good work in us, will perform it; he will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1: 6). So we remember the new covenant. Jesus’ death sealed it. This rite attests to it.


The Lord’s Supper symbolizes our unity as the Body of Christ.

At the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread and broke it, gave it to the disciples and said, ‘this is my body given for you, do this in remembrance of me. Apostle Paul views it this way: Each disciple ate a piece of bread which was broken from the one loaf which symbolised the body of Christ.  Therefore, even though we are many individuals, yet we all eat from the same loaf, and belong to the one body. (1 Cor 10:16-17)


Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary unites people from diverse backgrounds, bringing reconciliation even to those who were once enemies.   But is this unity a reality in our own relationships?

  

The Holy Communion is a visible presentation of the gospel.

Christ obeyed, died, was buried, raised, and is ascended to the right hand of the Father where he intercedes for us. The good news is that we have been saved freely, by grace, that we are accepted freely, through faith alone, in Christ alone. When we receive the Lord’s Supper, Christ says to the believer: you are mine. I was your atoning substitute. Your sins really have been wiped away. You really have been given new life and I am working in you now by my Spirit to renew you into my image.[1]


Jesus gave the Holy Communion to his church to help strengthen us in the Christian faith.  If you’re a Christian who is weak, weary, full of doubts, and in need of God’s love and grace, don’t avoid the Holy Communion – go to it with repentant faith.[2]

 

[1] R Scott Clark, What Do We Mean By Sacrament, Sign, And Seal?

[2] Andy Schreiber, The Lord’s Supper and Assurance.   https://schreiberscribbles.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/the-lords-supper-and-assurance

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