Sunday School @ 9am • Sunday Service @ 10am
They called it the “marks of the church.” As a result of the 16th century Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church no longer was the only church in town. Questions arose: “What’s a true church?” “How do you recognize one?” “What’s the difference between a true church and a false one?” These were very good questions and they demanded answering. And the reformers responded succinctly and well. The true church, they said, (1) preaches God’s Word, (2) properly administrates the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and (3) practices church discipline. How many churches today fail their test?
In this series, we’ve commented on the first mark, now let’s address the second. Let’s begin by asking where has the Lord’s Supper gone? Once a month is a common practice (I have even heard of once a quarter); so is sequestering it to an occasional evening service. Something is mumbled about “Doing Communion too often will make it less special.” Really? If that same kind of logic was used to monitor other Sunday morning worship practices, we shouldn’t preach and sing every week, either? We better stop our daily devotions and prayer, too.
But I suspect there are other reasons working against Communion. The first is the wrong-headed notion that Sunday morning worship is mostly about evangelism. “After all, we don’t want seekers to feel left out when we commune with our Lord.” The second is time. For many, the worship service would become too long and the thought of “stealing some minutes from the singing time” would be unacceptable. Music, remember, has become the new sacrament (see Part 10).
The third is perhaps the biggest reason, however; the Lord’s Supper is no longer viewed as all that significant. If there is any of that going on, we better get back to the Upper Room. “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19), Jesus said. So we “look back” at the Table; and we need to. It is here we are reminded with our eyes and taste with our mouths that “I really am forgiven because of what He has done for me.”
And equally important at the Table, we “look ahead.” We look ahead to the day when we will be ushered to our reserved seat at the table of the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7-9)—the meal we one day will enjoy with our Lord and Savior in heaven. So at Communion, we look back and remember how and why we are His now; and at Communion we look ahead with great hope that we shall be forever.
That said; weekly Communion sounds really good. In an age of “Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering,” we not only need to think more about what we are doing in our worship; we also need to think more about what we are leaving out.Pastor Rich Hamlin February 17, 2011