Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Lord's Supper is a powerful means of grace ...

Most United Methodists agree that the Lord's Supper (Holy Communion, the Eucharist) is an important ritual of the church. Many also agree that it is a powerful means of grace. John and Charles Wesley certainly believed the Sacrament to be one of the most important and powerful means for Christians to connect with the healing and redeeming power of God's grace. This is why both brothers communed frequently throughout their lives. It is why Charles wrote a collection of hymns on the Lord's Supper, about 160 hymns, that is one of the best volumes on Eucharistic theology ever written. John encouraged the Methodists to participate in the Sacrament as often as possible, at least once a week. The worship book he developed for the new Methodist Episcopal Church in America contained an order of worship for Sunday morning that included weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper.

The recent document approved by the 2008 General Conference, This Holy Mystery, encourages United Methodist congregations today to re-tradition the practice of weekly celebration of the Sacrament.

My friend Andrew Thompson has done some very good thinking and writing on this topic in a recent column for the United Methodist Portal. It is well worth reading and discussing in your church: Recommit to Communion as Means of Healing Grace


Anonymous stf said...

weekly is good, daily (or at least more frequently) would be even better :)

that said if the UMC (and other denominations) hold onto to the practice that only ordained ministers can celebrate the Eucharist, in some areas it will stay at the pathetic once a quarter / once a month at best ...which is far too seldom IMHO

your thoughts on that?

3:36 PM

Blogger Steven Manskar said...

stf, you make an excellent point. As a church in the catholic, ecumenical tradition, United Methodists must maintain the tradition of only the ordained elders presiding at the Lord's table. We get around this tradition by allowing District Superintendents to give sacramental authority to licensed local pastors who tend to serve in small urban and rural congregations.

A good solution to this problem would be disconnect conference membership from ordination. Today's licensed local pastors could then be ordained as local elders with full sacramental authority in the congregation(s) to which they are appointed.

3:49 PM

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8:30 PM

Blogger Barbara Bunsold said...

The concerns which Andrew Thompson raise regarding the practice of Open Communion by presbyters of the UMC misses an essential thread of Anglican Theology, within which John and Charles Wesley operated. In partaking of the Eucharist, members of the body are strengthened and fortified for their essential calling, being the body of Christ to the world. It is impossible for someone who has not yet assented to the Baptismal Covenant to made more of what one does not yet hold them self to be; one cannot "re-member" into the one Body of Christ, until one has first been "membered." There are however, many people who have assented to the relation of holding Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but never done so within any community. Presbyters, and local Pastors of all denominations would do well to make mental note of people of whom they are uncertain, who approach the Lord's table (altar), at a time apart from the celebration of the Eucharist, to begin or continue the process of catechesis around the Holy Mystery.

3:20 PM


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