Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Thoughts on the Lord’s Supper

In the third chapter of the last book of the New Testament you can read words to this effect:
‘Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and
repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone
hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him or her, and
they with me.’

The words are words of the risen Jesus Christ to a church in a place called Laodicea.

Let me explain the sequence they contain. First, the people are encouraged to consider how they are doing, and to reconsider their approach to life. They are called to repentance.

Martin Luther started the reformation movement in 1517, and the way he did this was by posting and publishing a list of statements about the Christian faith. The first one reads something like this: When Christ taught that all people should repent, he indicated that the Christian life is a life of ongoing or daily repentance.

I suspect that too often we think of repentance as a once in a life time experience. But even if we need to repent for the first time it is something that we need to do again and again. It is something that we need to practise, turning back to God and his ways rather than claiming allegiance to God while living our own way.

It is in this background of consistently looking back to God and his ways that the next word is given: ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him or her, and they with me.’

We are to live as people who have repented and turned to God once, and who live lives of ongoing repentance. It is in that context that Christ comes to us and says: ‘Let me in! Come and open the door to me. Let’s have supper together.’

Are you one of those people who enjoy visiting stately homes? I sometimes think about the time and money my parents spent taking Helen and I round all kinds of National Trust properties. Totally wasted on us at the time. I’m now fascinated by such places. When you do visit, don’t you just wish to stretch over the dividing rope, and really engage with the rooms you are in? Actually touch the ornaments, pick up the books, throw yourself onto the furniture, play the pianos or harpsichords? So many of these places are just caught in limbo. The objects are untouchable, set apart. You can look, but not touch. Or if you go into an old cathedral, same thing! Certain sections are cut off. They are too holy or too fragile to be open to the general public – you can only admire from a distance.

There is a danger that we treat the Lord’s Supper in that way. We hold back. We are conscious of something holy and set apart. So we become just a little wary of taking communion because we’re not sure we deserve to. Those are the moments we need to remember that the Lord’s Supper is not about being forgiven. It’s not really about repenting either, or confessing our sin. The supper is more about affirming our status. We are those whom Christ has chosen to have supper with, to engage with, to love.

Jesus has come to us, and we have responded to his love. So we can open the door and let him in. We made that initial commit when we professed our faith, and now, we are those who enjoy close fellowship with Jesus, our friend and Saviour.

So, at the Lord’s Supper, we open up the doors, and we let Jesus in. He sits at the head of the table and he feeds us with his word, with his grace, and with his encouragement to go on. He comes into our lives, into our homes, and he prepares supper for us. The food is a tangible reminder of what he has done for us. We bring all that we are to the supper. We remember that we are in the Lord, and we eat at his invitation.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Thanks for this article on the Lord's Supper. I particularly liked what you said about it affirming our status. Went to hear Dale Ralph Davis yesterday up the valleys. Preached on Esther 6 and Zephaniah (yes Zephaniah!) 3. Very good.