June 23, 2008

The Lord's Supper as Proclamation

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:26


When you participate in Lord’s Supper celebrations, you become a preacher. In this sense, the whole church is a company of preachers. For you and your church are announcing to everyone that Jesus’ death and resurrection provide the only true source of hope.

Next time you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, take out an ad in your newspaper. Announce it on your church’s street sign. Invite a neighbor, a friend, a coworker to join you, knowing that many of them will simply watch what happens.

It may seem strange to invite guests to a ritual event that needs so much explanation. But we do it with other events. In sports, for example, we are often eager to initiate prospective fans to the complex rituals of football, or tennis, or softball.

One advantage of inviting guests to the Lord’s Supper is that when they ask their inevitable questions about it, we find ourselves talking about all the basics: we explain how Jesus’ body and blood, sacrificed on the cross, offer us salvation. Our God is a nourishing God. The church receives this nourishment in gratitude. We long for the feast of the coming kingdom.

This beautiful sacrament sums up the entire gospel in a simple set of gestures and actions. Thanks be to God for this beautiful visual sermon we all get to preach!

Lord God, by your Spirit help us to be eager to take the bread and cup to proclaim the good news of the gospel until that day when we feast with you in glory. Amen.

About the author — John D. Witvliet

Dr. John D. Witvliet has served as a professor at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for the past 11 years, as well as serving as Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He and his wife, Charlotte, have four children.

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