Come to the Table 9

With the current situation of the American church in mind, we can say the following: frequent eating and drinking at the Lord’s table will inoculate the church against the Gnosticism of modern Christianity (not to mention trendy spiritualisms) that would reduce religion to a private, inner, purely “spiritual” experience; a church whose central religious rite includes baked goods is being trained in proper dominion over creation and will refuse resurgent nature worship in both its religious and political guises; a church that celebrates a feast of wine is being formed into a joyful community that contests the equation of Christian seriousness with prudishness; a church that celebrates the communal meal is bound into one body and will resist the corrosive individualism of modern culture that has too often invaded the church; a church that shares bread at the Lord’s table is learning the virtues of generosity and humility; a church that proclaims the Lord’s sacrificial death in the Supper is exercising itself in self-sacrifice and becoming immune to the lure of self-fulfillment. Not automatically, but in the context of biblical teaching and a robust community life, the skills and virtues practiced at the Lord’s table will spill over to fill the whole church with a eucharistic ethos. In short, the Supper exercises the church in the protocols of life in the presence of God.

—Peter J. Leithart, “The Way Things Really Ought to Be: Eucharist, Eschatology and Culture” Westminster Theological Journal 59 (1997):176

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Come to the Table 8

The eucharist became the showing forth of the death of One whom death could not hold.. .. The Lord’s Supper was celebrated not on Thursday night, the time of its institution, or on Friday afternoon, the time when our Lord died upon the Cross, but on Sunday morning, the time of His resurrection.

—William D. Maxwell, Concerning Worship, 13

Come to the Table 7

The Lord’s Supper is first and foremost an encounter with God’s love. As St. Francis de Sales counseled, “Your great intention in receiving Communion should be to advance, strengthen, and comfort yourself in the love of God.”

—Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, 66

Come to the Table 6

The efficacy of the Lord’s Supper does not, finally, rest on our faith or our sincerity or the depth of our resolve. The energy that sustains this meal and makes it a holy meal is that which is provided through the ministry of the Spirit.

—Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, 118

Come to the Table 5

Since Christ is the host of the meal, and very much present in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the focus and central dynamic of the event are in the present, not the past. We are not, then, reliving or reenacting a past event—neither the event of the cross nor the event of the Last Supper. We are, rather, allowing a past event to shape and inform the present. 

—Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church,  40

Come to the Table 3

In New Covenant worship, the peace offering is fulfilled in the Lord’s Supper, and these passages indicate that song during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is appropriate and good. Much Eucharistic music, however, is far too slow, meditative, and melancholy, contributing powerfully to a Eucharistic piety that treats the Supper as “tomb” rather than “table.” Meditative music might occasionally be used at the Supper, but I believe that vigorous and triumphal music is far more appropriate. The Supper is a victory meal, memorializing the death that vanquished the powers and led captivity captive. It is not a moment to wallow in sorrow, but a moment to celebrate Christ the Victor.

—Peter J. Leithart, From Silence to Song: The Davidic Liturgical Revolution, 128