Through the Spirit

The question may well be asked how it can be that the Word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ can possibly come to us as Word of God through the instrumentality of some minister in the pulpit…this is precisely the same question as to how the Word of God made flesh can come to us in water, bread, and wine through the instrumentality of some minister at font or table.  The two problems are no different, and for both Scripture has an identical answer: whether Christ comes to us from pulpit, font, or table, he does so through the operation of the Holy Spirit.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 203

Divine Sustenance

Author of life divine,
Who has a table spread,
Furnished with mystic wine
And everlasting bread,
Preserve the life Thyself has given,
And feed and train us up for heaven.

Our needy souls sustain
With fresh supplies of love,
Till all Thy life we gain,
And all Thy fullness prove,
And, strengthened by Thy perfect grace,
Behold without a veil Thy face.

—Charles Wesley (Methodist Hymnbook #764)

The Leveling Table

The Lord’s Table is a leveling reality in a world of increasing inequalities, an enacted vision of “a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine” (Isa. 25:6). This strange feast is the civic rite of another city—the Heavenly City—which is why it includes our pledge of allegiance, the Creed.

—James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love:  The Spiritual Power of Habit, 98

Grace Enacted

The sacramental actions of the church—baptism and the Lord’s Supper—are concrete, tangible, and visible means by which the church takes the very stuff of creation, water, bread, and cup, and in response to the invitation and command of Christ reenacts the wonder of the gospel. In so doing, the material creation is a means by which God’s grace is known.

Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, 28

Hallowing All Food and Time

The eucharistic bread and wine are real bread and wine, . . nonetheless different from our ordinary bread and wine, for they are restored to their true end, they secretly justify and hallow all the food of this world by the promise of the Messianic banquet which they carry.

It is the same with Sunday which restores time to its true end, of doxological duration, and secretly it justifies and hallows all the other days.

—Jean-Jacques von Allmen, Worship: Its Theory and Practice, 223-4

Jesus Himself

That which is received in the Sacraments is not something other than that which is received in the Word, though it is received in a different way; for both in Word and Sacraments it is Jesus Christ Himself who comes to us. 

—C.E.B. Cranfield, “Divine and Human Action: The Biblical Concept of Worship,” Interpretation 12:4 (October, 1958), 395

Advent Supper

We should not think of the Eucharist not so much as Christmas—as if the Son were born again in bread—but instead think about it instead in terms of Advent. This table marks a triple Advent: It celebrates the past coming of the Lord; it is the coming of the Lord; and it looks ahead to the coming of the Lord. We commemorate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; we feed on Him by the Spirit; we proclaim the Lord’s death until He come.

When we view it as an Advent meal, we see that this Supper is about Jesus’ absence as well as His presence; it’s about the future as well as the present. It is a present feast, a feast we celebrate because the Lord has come. But it is not yet a full banquet, because the Lord is still to come.

—Peter Leithart