While online services have provided much-needed encouragement and connection during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, there are just some things that are not the same through a screen. Another important aspect of our worship that takes on an entirely new dimension when we participate in the same room is the Lord’s Supper.
When we participate in the Lord’s Supper together in the same room, we not only pause to remember what the Lord has done, but we proclaim it to each other in a corporate, visual sermon.
A Declaration of Unity
Our church’s tradition is to take the Lord’s Supper together on the first Sunday of each month. This is an important element in our worship for several reasons. First, it is a declaration of our unity in Christ.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
Paul is referring to the element of the Lord’s Supper. When we collectively eat of the bread and drink of the cup, we are making a common confession. We are declaring that we are participants in Christ’s body. We, who are many, are actually all one.
We are declaring that even though we come from different places, have different cultural backgrounds, have different political views, and different levels of education, we have a common hope. We have one God, one Lord, one baptism, and we are members of one body. We believe in a new covenant of forgiveness, and the promise of a future kingdom (Matthew 26:26-29).
This declaration of unity is meant to bind our hearts together. It is meant to be a regular reminder that what binds us together is far greater than what might separate us. We are encouraged when we look around and see our church family declaring that they are one with us. We are not alone. We are together.
At the same time, we declare to our church family watching that we want to be one with them. We encourage them by demonstrating our desire to be together in this hope. We build them up by reminding them that we want to walk through this life together with them. They may be discouraged or feel alone, but when we take the Lord’s Supper together, we remind them that they are not alone.
A Proclamation of the Lord’s Death (A Visual Sermon)
Taking the Lord’s Supper together is a declaration of unity, but it is more than that. It is also a visual proclamation of the gospel. When Paul instructed the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:26, he explained, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
When we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we are preaching the gospel to all who see us taking it. We are proclaiming the Lord’s death. We are saying that we believe his death inaugurated a new covenant that brought forgiveness for our sins. We point to his body on the cross and the blood that flowed as he suffered in our place. We preach to our church family and all those who might be watching that we believe in the good news that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice in our place.
Now, there is plenty of grace that we receive just from taking the Lord’s Supper. It is an opportunity for us to slow down and reflect on the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice. It is a time for us to confess our sin and our need for the forgiveness he purchased with his blood. It is a time for us to rejoice in the reconciliation and healing that has come to us through his wounds.
But this grace is multiplied when we take the Lord’s Supper together as a church body. We get the opportunity to reflect on what God has done, but we also get the opportunity to hear his death proclaimed by all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. As they eat the bread and raise the cup to their lips, they proclaim to us the hope of Jesus’ death.
We hear the gospel proclaimed by our brothers and sisters, and we also have the opportunity to preach the gospel to them. As I take the Lord’s Supper, I proclaim the hope of the gospel through a visual display of faith. I offer encouragement to my brother or sister in Christ who may be wrestling with doubt or discouragement. I proclaim the Lord’s death and all the healing that came with it.
So the next time you take the Lord’s Supper with the church, remember all that you and others are proclaiming. We collectively proclaim that we are united in one faith and one hope. We declare that we will not be divided by lesser things. We remind each other of the hope that we have in the body and blood of Christ, and we spur one another on to continue believing until we see our Savior face to face!