Four Key Words
There are four key words to keep in mind when coming to the Lord’s Table; important words that will help us in our appreciation of it.
The first one is Covenant – “This is the new covenant established by my blood.” This is our first base – it’s God’s covenant, it’s about what he has done. The Old one couldn’t do the job because of our falleness, so God establishes a new one. The idea of a covenant then roots us in Christ’s performance NOT ours. This provides a balance to the experiential nature of Spirit-filled Christianity, and represents the tension between the ages, the now and not yet of the kingdom – the sacrifice once and for all time, and the full consummation of what that means for us in the future. God’s act in Jesus has changed the way God feels, i.e. the Passover, “When I see the blood I will Passover you.” If things are going well for you then we are reminded when we come to the table its because of what Jesus has done; if you are struggling when we come to the table then we are reminded that its not our performance but his that counts. In Israels households there were no doubt good sons and bad sons, but it was the blood of the lamb that would save each. The Communion Table levels us all.
The second Remember – “Do this in remembrance of me…” For the western mind this is no more than the recollecting of details and events with no present reality, but for the Hebrew/Jewish mind it was a remembering that engages with and relives the event. It was a reactivating of its significance, so that generations later it was their story. And in many ways it was, you see we live in an individualistic isolated world, they lived in family/community world. Their identity wasn’t in themselves it was in thier community and its history. So there great, great, great, great… grand parents story was their story, and they remebered and told in such a way. So it should be for us as we break the bread and drink the wine.
The third is Communion. The original word is translated variously in different versions and places in the Bible as communion, participation, sharing; 1 Cor. 10:17 “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
1. It is with Christ. This must be foremost, we commune with him.
2. It is with one another. Jesus died for the church, a body, his body. It expresses our unity. Sharing = a rejoicing in the common bond we have in Christ… This is where the scripture “Examine yourselves” comes in. This is not about introspection, but the fact we are part of the body, and is in regard to the body – our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to recognise it, honour it, and extend the same grace and mercy to it. It becomes then a meal that unites us and sustains us.
The fourth is Proclamation – “You proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes.” – what an amazing line – we proclaim both death and life at the same time! Everytime we Break Bread, eat the Lord’s Supper, we are proclaiming the reality of Christ – his life, his death, his ressurection,his coming again and in so doing we proclaim the power of the gospel to save all that will put their trust in him.