I’m leading the Lord’s Supper this morning at church.
In the Lord’s Supper, Christians traditionally remember the death of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. So it functions as a visible reminder of the gospel itself—that, if we trust in the Lord Jesus and his death for our sins, then we are welcomed into fellowship with him and with each other. Rightly understood (which means that it needs to be explained each time it’s done), the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of the gospel that Christians believe.
We have a reasonable amount of freedom at our church in how we can choose to speak about the symbolic meal we’re sharing. This morning, I’ve decided to quote from Luke 15:1-2
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
It occurs to me (and not for the first time) that the traditional Anglican understanding that unbelievers should be excluded from eating and drinking is quite wrong. If the gospel is being proclaimed, then we ought to be inviting unbelievers to take part in what we are doing (without insisting that that they must). This would seem to me to be truer to the example of the Lord Jesus, who welcomed all guilty sinners to the table, despite the complaints of the religious.
It’s only a symbolic meal, and so I’m unlikely to go to the stake for this understanding of the Lord’s Supper. But given that the gospel is open to all—especially those who don’t yet know God—it seems to me that we could do far better in matching up symbol and reality, and extending the invitation to ‘eat and drink’ to all, not just the insiders.
I also wouldn’t mind if we actually had a full meal, in line with the biblical tradition.
Come to think of it, those regular dinners we used to have when we ordered in pizza after church, and invited absolutely anyone who wanted to come to share, and then we prayed, and then we reminded each other in our conversations about what we had learned about the gospel during church, seems (at least, to this leader of the Lord’s Supper) a far better example of how eating and drinking in memory of Christ should look.