Keeping going as a Christian isn’t easy! So how will we keep going? Well there are lots of handy tips on how to keep ourselves spiritually in shape… have a quiet time, keep a diary, take time out to pray, read this great book… but one we rarely hear is “make sure you’re at church for communion!”.
Now that might be because of a right nervousness about making the Lord’s supper into a gospel + kind of thing. The idea that “Jesus is great but you need to do this ceremony too if God’s going to love/forgive you” – which is obviously nonsense and dangerous. But I do wonder if that nervousness has made us miss the spiritual benefit of turning out for the communion service?
So what is that benefit? Well listen to how the Heidelberg Catechism puts it:
Christ has commanded me and all believers to eat of this broken bread and to drink of this cup in remembrance of Him, and has joined this with these promises: first, that His body was offered and broken on the cross for me and His blood shed for me, as certainly as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup communicated to me; and further, that with His crucified body and shed blood He Himself feeds and nourishes my soul to everlasting life, as certainly as I receive from the hand of the minister and fast with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, which are given me as certain tokens of the body and blood of Christ.
Notice this emphasis on certainty, that the Lord’s supper makes the promises of the gospel visible and tangible.
Sharing bread and wine together as a church family is saying to my soul that it needs Christ like my body needs bread, that the unseen realities of Christ’s work for me are as real as the bread and wine that I see. That’s what Jesus means when he institutes the Lord’s Supper saying: “this IS my body” and “this IS my blood”. Not that they had some how become his body and blood through transubstantiation but rather that sharing bread and wine while trusting the gospel it represents is food and drink for our souls, it’s drinking in and feasting on Jesus.
That’s got to be great for our souls to be regularly reminded of. So if you want to keep going as a Christian, then make a point of turning up at church for communion.