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Content about Lord's Supper

January 22, 2018

Last fall I happened to be traveling to Dallas, arriving early Sunday morning. My travel companions and I were encouraged to attend a local Anglican church, where we were blessed by the preached Word and the fellowship of the table. The folk-style music that accompanied the liturgy included some re-tuned traditional hymns and some newly composed, with each text thoughtfully chosen for its placement in the liturgy. The spoken words of the liturgy were profoundly fresh and opened my imagination to a broader understanding of my Christian faith and relationships with God and others. To my delight, after the service I learned that some of the songs were written by congregational members, often as a collaboration between retired priest Fr. Nelson Koscheski and millennial-aged worship leader Ryan Flanigan, founder of Liturgical Folk. Two songs sung at the service are included with this article.

March 1, 2010

Rochester Christian Reformed Church, New York, crafts its own Lord’s Supper litanies to help connect the theme of the service or the season of the Christian year with the sacrament. This is the first of several litanies they will be sharing with RW readers. It is based on the sacramental sections of the Belgic Confession, one of the confessions held by many Reformed denominations.
—JB

June 1, 2009

For the last fifteen years LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church has welcomed children to the Lord’s table by means of a Table Fellowship liturgy.

March 1, 2009

The unfortunate history of the Lord’s Supper is that we have always managed to find a way to fight over the very thing that was meant to bring us together. So what are we disagreeing about this time? In many Reformed and Presbyterian churches the clash of the day is over whether baptized children who have not professed their faith should be allowed to take part in the Lord’s Supper.

March 1, 2009

The unfortunate history of the Lord’s Supper is that we have always managed to find a way to fight over the very thing that was meant to bring us together. So what are we disagreeing about this time? In many Reformed and Presbyterian churches the clash of the day is over whether baptized children who have not professed their faith should be allowed to take part in the Lord’s Supper.

September 1, 2008

After I led a group of people with cognitive impairments in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Sarah approached me to ask a question. I had difficulty understanding her because I don’t know her well and because she has trouble articulating certain sounds.

Finally, I understood that she hadn’t come forward to take communion that evening because she has a swallowing disorder. Sarah feared she would choke in front of everyone as she took the elements. She asked if we could go to a more private place where I could serve her. I was delighted to do so.

September 1, 2008

After I led a group of people with cognitive impairments in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Sarah approached me to ask a question. I had difficulty understanding her because I don’t know her well and because she has trouble articulating certain sounds.

Finally, I understood that she hadn’t come forward to take communion that evening because she has a swallowing disorder. Sarah feared she would choke in front of everyone as she took the elements. She asked if we could go to a more private place where I could serve her. I was delighted to do so.

September 1, 2008

Q We’ve had complaints of having too much of a “minor-key Advent” in our church. How would you respond?

A It all depends!

Advent is a time of great hope. But it is also a time to dwell honestly with the fact that our full hopes for Christ’s second coming are not yet fulfilled. Advent is also a time of waiting.

September 1, 2008

Q We’ve had complaints of having too much of a “minor-key Advent” in our church. How would you respond?

A It all depends!

Advent is a time of great hope. But it is also a time to dwell honestly with the fact that our full hopes for Christ’s second coming are not yet fulfilled. Advent is also a time of waiting.

June 1, 2008

Certain experiences are pregnant with new insight, usually more than we recognize at the time. One of those experiences gave me new insights on the Lord’s Supper.

June 1, 2008

When my now-grown sons were young, we took a lot of car trips. On one particularly long journey, after we’d exhausted the usual repertoire of the license plate hunt, Riddly Riddly Ree, and Twenty Questions, the boys came up with a game of their own. They made two signs on pieces of drawing paper. One sign said “Hello!” That one went in the front passenger window. The second said “How is your day going?” The boys held that one up in the back passenger window. It then became my job to pass as many cars as possible.

June 1, 2008

If you’re looking for a good read that will refresh your understanding and especially your experience of the Lord’s Supper, the writings of John Calvin might not immediately come to mind. They are, admittedly, old and occasionally laden with arguments for or against (usually against) the views of certain contemporaries. But, ultimately, neither their age nor such disputation should be held against Calvin’s works, as they are also imbued with rich pastoral insight and devotional depth.

June 1, 2008

“Do this in remembrance of me.” For most Christians, these familiar words of Christ trigger the sweet scent of grapes and the taste of bread. We all know that Lord’s Supper services are intended to help God’s people remember Christ. But how can we help God’s people better retain knowledge of Christ—and translate that memory into lives of worship?

June 1, 2008

This conversational drama was the centerpiece of a service examining the significance of taking Christ’s body and blood during the Lord’s Supper. It includes four narrators in costume: Jewish scholar, Man-on-the-street, Scientist, and Nurse. A table in the center holds chemicals and glassware for a science demonstration. If possible, obtain a few slides (see list of props) to project at appropriate points as a visual aid.

June 1, 2008

Q What should we call the sacrament of the Lord’s table: the Lord’s Supper, Communion, or Eucharist?

A Each of these names is theologically and pastorally significant.

“The Lord’s Supper” conveys that Jesus is the host of this meal and we celebrate the sacrament because of his command.

June 1, 2008

If you are a preacher in a typical Reformed congregation, you know that on most Sundays the congregation expects the table to be bare even as they expect the pulpit to be filled. Many people who wouldn’t bat an eye at a service without either of the sacraments would find a service without a sermon vaguely scandalous.

June 1, 2008

One of my favorite churches is the beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California. While this church has many striking and meaningful features, I especially love the majestic earth-toned tapestries hung along each side of the nave.

June 1, 2008

Throughout Scripture, God reveals his table grace to us. We are given a feast of themes and images to interpret the Lord’s Supper. Poets and musicians have highlighted these biblical themes and images in their songs. You’ll find some of them listed below, along with songs that accentuate them. Use these songs to surround the Table with music that proclaims the grace of God and deepens our participation in the Lord’s Supper.

June 1, 2008

As I was walking on campus, I was stopped by a student who wanted to know if she could ask me a question.

“Sure, shoot,” I said.

With a searching tone, she asked, “Why don’t you offer an altar call every week?”

June 1, 2008

In an old movie titled Joe Versus the Volcano, Tom Hanks plays a young man who’s been shipwrecked. He survives by floating on his luggage, which he’s tied together to form a raft. At one point, delirious from thirst, he sees the moon slowly rising over the horizon, incredibly huge and brilliant. Astonished, he cries out, “God, whose name I do not know, thank you for my life. I forgot how big. Thank you, thank you for my life.” It is a moment of awakening for him—a moment of recognizing great truth and mystery.

December 1, 2007

Background

This liturgy has three movements: confession, assurance, and rededication. It’s as though the reconciliation part of worship that is common in many Reformed churches is magnified to encompass the entire service.

Because I refer to him in the meditation, I used Saint Augustine’s words about finding rest in God as the opening sentences. This theme is immediately picked up again in the gathering hymn, especially in stanza 4. Another
communion hymn that echoes this theme is “In the Quiet Consecration” (PsH 302).

December 1, 2007

Q My cousin’s church now celebrates communion early in the service before the kids leave for children’s church. Is there anything wrong with that? Wouldn’t that be a good plan for those of us hoping to incorporate children more fully in the sacrament?

December 1, 2007

The service of Tenebrae, meaning “darkness” or “shadows,” has been practiced by the church since medieval times. Once a service for the monastic community, Tenebrae later became an important part of the worship of the common folk during Holy Week. We join Christians of many generations throughout the world in using the liturgy of Tenebrae.

June 1, 2007

Few seem to realize that one of John Calvin’s major disputes during his time in Geneva was his advocacy of celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. He was adamant, but the consistory—and the city council, who governed church-related matters—wouldn’t agree. Calvin was even thrown out of Geneva for a time—he went to Strasbourg, France—but he came back. He continued to advocate for communion every Sunday but was still resisted.

June 5, 2005
Q. How can we balance our desire to make changes in the service for emphasis and still allow the congregation to be comfortable within a certain structure so they can worship without distractions?

A. It was C.S. Lewis who famously compared good worship with an old shoe. The more familiarity and fewer surprises, the better. Lewis was right that innovation tends to draw our attention from the purpose to the mechanics of what we are doing.