And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:19-20 ESV)
Of the Lord’s Supper John Chrysostom wrote “The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is the commemoration of the greatest blessing that ever the world enjoyed.” At Trinity we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, this commemoration of the greatest blessing every week. Weekly communion with God through the bread and wine of His supper was important to the early church as Scripture demonstrates (Acts 2.42). In terms of our own specific spiritual heritage in Anglicanism, nothing in Scripture stirred our own English Reformers to write more eloquently, or with so much passion as did their writings on the Lord’s Supper. Thomas Cranmer called the Lord’s Supper “Christ before our eyes…by inward faith.” Nicholas Ridley declared that those who feed on Christ in their hearts by faith eat nothing less that the “food of life and immortality.”
In terms of my own spiritual development, I look back on my early days as a Christian taking the Lord’s Supper at St. Andrew’s, Mount Pleasant as an especially sweet and encouraging time in my life. My classmates from the Citadel and I would take the Lord’s Supper together, then kneel, grasp hands and pray for the mission of the Gospel on the Citadel Campus. During these times I knew that I was not only having deep spiritual fellowship with my classmates, but I was also communing with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who had nourished my soul through the preaching of the word and the giving of the bread and wine.
Now as a Pastor, I not only continue to feast on the Lord’s Supper with God’s people, but I find myself in the humbling position of presiding over the banquet. One of my great desires for this church is that you and I fully appreciate just what it is that we are feasting on. For this reason, after much prayer and council with the pastoral staff, we have decided during the Season of Lent (March 13-Arpil 10) to abstain from the Lord’s Supper. Our worship will be Morning Prayer, a simple order of worship common in the Episcopal Church before 1979. Over the course of those five Sundays in Lent, our preaching will focus on the Lord’s Supper. My hope is, as a good waiter can make the mouths of the guests water so too will your pastor’s make your souls thirst for the spiritual food and drink of the Lord’s Supper. On Palm Sunday (April 17th), Trinity will host a banquet for the soul as we gather together for the first time since Ash Wednesday to take bread and wine together.
We wish to be sensitive to those visitors who we only see for a few weeks a year, who long to take the Lord’s Supper with us here at Trinity. For that reason, we will hold a communion service throughout Lent at the 8:00 a.m. service in the Chapel.
My hope is that absence will make the heart grow fonder. When we gather together on April 17th we will do so with great expectation and hopefully, by God’s grace, a greater understanding of an act so central to our worship here at Trinity.
If you or your small group would like a supplement to study the Lord’s Supper as a Lenten devotional, I could not recommend anything better than Thomas Watson’s little book, The Lord’s Supper. You can buy it by clicking here.