WHY DO CHRISTIANS DO THAT?: THE LORD'S SUPPER

It is done with various frequency, on a weekly basis in some churches and as infrequently as a few times a year in others.  It is done in a variety of different ways and it goes by several different names.  Still, almost all Christian churches set aside time to eat bread and drink wine (or grape juice) as part of their worship.  But why? What do bread and grape products have to do with worshiping God?

THE BACKGROUND
The Lord's Supper (or Communion, or Eucharist) finds its origins in the last night that Jesus spent with His disciples on earth.  Judaism had a long history of religious meals that helped people remember God's mighty acts on their behalf in the past.  In addition, the act of eating together had become a powerful image of what it would be like when God made everything right as He had promised to do.  Finally, the act of eating together had long been a sign of being at peace with other people.  After all, who would sit down to eat with their enemies? Eating together at religious meals, then, meant that you were celebrating being at peace with God, and through God, being at peace with everyone else eating with you.

I think Jesus had all of this in mind - the peace that eating together represents, remembering the mighty works of God in the past, and celebrating what He has promised to do when He makes all things right - when He began a new meal, the Lord's Supper.  Taking the bread and the wine present at the meal, Jesus told His disciples that they should now understand this bread and wine to be His body and blood - His sacrifice for them.  They were to continue taking this new meal to remember that sacrifice.

When Christians take the Lord's Supper together we are specifically remembering God's mighty act on our behalf through Jesus Christ's death on the cross, and we are celebrating the promise that God will make everything right when Jesus Christ returns.  We believe that because of Jesus' death, resurrection, and return, we can eat the Lord's Supper together in the knowledge that we are at peace with God and with each other.

The earliest Christians usually ate the bread and the wine of the Lord's Supper together as part of a larger meal they shared.  Some churches still do this, though most Christian churches celebrate the Lord's Supper as a distinct act of worship done during the course of a worship service, rather than as part of a larger meal.

IF IT'S THE "LORD'S SUPPER", WHERE IS JESUS?
Christians have always affirmed that Jesus is somehow present with us as we participate in the meal He gave us.  In other words, while Christians can certainly experience God's gracious presence with them on a daily basis, there is some sense in which Jesus is specially present with His people as they take the Lord's Supper.

What not all Christians can agree on is exactly what this looks like.  Some believe that those who take the meal somehow really partake of Jesus' body and blood, either because the bread and the wine are transformed, or because the body and blood of Christ are somehow coupled with the elements as they are consumed.  Other Christians believe that those who take the meal somehow partake of Christ in a mystical way as an act of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Each of these views looks at Jesus' words, "This is my body . This is my blood," which he spoke when he first gave the meal, and believes that He meant the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper to be more than symbols, that they were somehow to be associated with His actual body and blood.

Finally, there is a view that sees the bread and wine as symbolic presentations of Jesus' body and blood, but nonetheless acknowledges Christ's special presence in the midst of the Lord's Supper.  This view says that Christ is present through the indwelling of His people who gather together to take the meal - that the way we experience Christ's presence at the Lord's Supper is through the fellowship of the eaters.  This last view is often called the memorialist view.

THE LORD'S SUPPER AT HIGHLAND
At Highland, we administer the Lord's Supper with the memorialist understanding in mind.  However, we most certainly welcome those who take other views of what happens during the Lord's Supper to join in the meal with us!

We celebrate the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of every month because we see the act of taking the Supper together as a powerful way of habitually reconfirming our identity as a church community and why we gather together in the first place.  We see ourselves as a group of people at peace with God and with each other because of the death of Jesus Christ and the promise that we will share in His resurrection when He returns.  We remind ourselves of this by beginning each month taking the Lord's Supper together.

CAN I TAKE THE LORD'S SUPPER AT HIGHLAND?
Since the Lord gave the meal to all of His people, we welcome everyone who has placed his or her trust in Jesus Christ to join us in taking the Lord's Supper.  You do not need to be a member of Highland, or even a Baptist, to take the meal with us.

In accordance to what we believe the Lord has commanded, we do ask that those who have not placed their trust in Christ refrain from taking the bread and grape juice with us.  The only reason we ask this is because we believe that the Lord has commanded us to honor His sacrifice and His meal by making the act of eating it an act of faith in what it represents.  Those who have not placed their trust in Jesus are more than welcome to join us during any worship gathering, but the Lord's Supper is representative of what God has done and will do specifically for those who trust Him.

Those who want to place their trust in Jesus will always be given an opportunity to do so before we take the Lord's Supper at Highland.