Progressive Churches of Christ: The Lord’s Supper, Part 2

progressiveNext, think about this in terms of story. When we take communion in our traditional way at church, what is the story that we are telling?

In many churches, the story is: We care about the scriptures more than “the denominations,” so much so that we take communion weekly as God wishes, not quarterly in rebellion against God. The story is about how our denomination is better than others. Wrong story!

Sometimes the story is that we reject transubstantiation and consubstantiation — because we understand the Bible better than the Catholics and Lutherans. This was standard cant where I grew up, even though there was wasn’t a Catholic or Lutheran church in the county. Again: wrong story!

How about this for a story:

(Isa 25:6-8 ESV) On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.  7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.  8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. 


(Luk 14:15-24 ESV)  When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’  19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’  20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’  22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.  24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'” 

I’ll bet you’ve never heard either of these passages discussed during a communion service. They don’t tell the story that we expect.

Isaiah 25 tells us that our Eucharist anticipates the great wedding feast for Jesus to be held at the Second Coming, and that all the nations (“all peoples”) will be invited to eat with Jesus. It speaks to missionary work and evangelism as invitations to come eat with Jesus and his people.

The second passage speaks of the invitation to join with Jesus in eating as well, but this time the invitation is sent to the poor, crippled, blind, and lame — as well as the sojourners, those who sleep in the hedges at the side of the road because no one will take them in.

And that’s a much better story — but it’s a story you can’t tell without being challenged to participate in God’s redemptive mission. Rather than crowing about our doctrinal superiority to the churches down the road, we submit to God’s challenge to send the invitation to the nations and the rejected.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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4 Responses to Progressive Churches of Christ: The Lord’s Supper, Part 2

  1. Price says:

    One can only wonder how much longer the LS will be focused solely upon the Death of Jesus (solemn) versus the celebration of the Eternal Life that He provided an opportunity to accept (joy). It seems that the joy of living in Jesus is something that really isn’t talked about much.. It seems it’s all about the rules and what happens when you break them. I hope this is one area that we can get out of the mold and explore. I’m doubtful that the early brothers and sisters were mourning through every remembrance of Jesus.. As an outsider, the “story” of going to a funeral every Sunday and being reminded of the eternal fire that awaits me if I get to close to the slippery slope is not really attractive… and we only give you a chip and a sip for coming… blah.

  2. brent says:

    I love all your posts on the Lord’s Supper. It’s not about ritual or frequency, but community and experience. It’s design is formative not formality.

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