Monday, February 11, 2008


The church's mission and the Lord's Supper are vitally linked. Jesus spelled out our mission when he said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:15). The "good news" is centered in God's gift of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection: "For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:10). The proclamation of this good news is our mission. Paul makes the connection between this mission and the Lord's supper clear when he says, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26).

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If true, the visible sermon we proclaim at the Lord's Table is far more powerful than the word spoken from the pulpit. I think my parents sensed this. At Milwaukie, when I was a boy, we had one of the best preachers around, namely Alger Fitch. Later he became nationally known among our churches as an outstanding speaker. Occasionally, we would leave church early on Sunday in order to visit my grandparents in Forest Grove. But we never left before communion. Apparently, they felt we could miss Alger's sermon but not communion. They didn't articulate this to us but as I look back, it is clear to me now how vitally important it is that the whole church gather every Lord's day to "proclaim the Lord's death" at the table.

Beyond engaging in the very essence of mission--proclaiming the redemptive sacrifice of Christ-- there is another effect of our faithful observance of the Lord's Supper. It provides the nourishment for the work of mission. Recently I reread Tom Wright's little book, The Meal Jesus Gave us. tom Wright is an Oxford lecturer, theologian, prolific writer, and Anglican pastor. In it he says, "When I was engaged in regular pastoral ministry I found that the only way I could cope with the daily demands was the daily Eucharist. There I could lay all my puzzles and problems symbolically before God and find them not removed but reshaped in the pattern of Jesus" (p 76).

Set as it is in the heart of worship, and in conjunction with the spoken word, our communion with Christ provides the renewal and resources that we need for mission as well as the opportunity to participate in the proclamation of the gospel.