The Trials, Victories & Adventures of Los PaulOS

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. ~ 1 John 4:18

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Table of Remembrance, Introspection, Outward Action & Futuristic Hope

I subscribe to Grace@Work Mail... and I've always wanted to capture the significance of the Lord's Supper into words and this brother at Grace@Work has put it down so aptly.
It may not fall in line with the few Catholic readers of my blog, but you can choose to ignore that part that does not promote the Eucharist as Catholics believe, yet the substance of this momentous, life changing, meaning of this meal is so hard to ignore. Read On!

[August 3, 2007 Edition]

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on
the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it
and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In
the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new
covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For
whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death
until he comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26 TNIV)

Commentary: At the Table

I haven't had the privilege of leading in a Holy Communion service for a long
time. If all goes according to plan, I will have the opportunity to do so this
Sunday. And if I do I will try to prepare the congregation to take the elements
by my usual exhortation on "the six directions of the Lord's Supper."

The first direction of the Lord's Supper is the backward direction. At the table
we look backward in time and remember that Jesus came and died for us. We
remember the historical basis of our faith. As we put the bread and the wine
into our mouths, we remember that the Christian faith is not wishful thinking.
It is real. It is based on things that really happened. We remember that God
loved us enough to come and die for us so that He could give us life. (Luke

The second direction of the Lord's Supper is the forward direction. I remember
Jesus' promise that one day we will celebrate the Supper in His very presence at
the end of time, when His programme to renew creation is finally completed. As I
look at the pain and evil in the world (and this Sunday I will be thinking of my
brothers and sisters who are hostages of the Taleban) I remember that it will
not always be like this. One day, Jesus will return and heaven and earth will be
one. And we will be joining in the celebratory feast in heaven. I find fresh
energy to press on. (Mark 14:25)

The third direction of the Lord's Supper is what I call the "look around"
direction. As I come to the Lord's table, I remember that I do not come alone.
The Lord's Supper is a family meal. As I take it, I remember that I belong to
the community of believers. I remember the corporate nature of the Christian
faith. Indeed I remember Paul's warning that if I take the Lord's Supper and I
am responsible for disunity in the church, I am opening myself up for serious
divine spiritual discipline. (1Corinthians 11:27-34)

The fourth direction of the Lord's Supper is the outward direction. As I take
the elements my heart is burdened by the fact that many are not yet at the
table. I think of the many who have yet to receive the offer of life that Jesus
proffers. I also remember that evangelism is not just confronting people with
the cold rational truths of the faith. It is inviting people to a meal, to the
feast of life that Jesus offers. (1Corinthians 11:26)

The fifth direction of the Lord Supper is the upward direction. I come to the
table realising afresh my need for God and His grace. This week in particular I
am really tired. I have just returned to Singapore after a full week of ministry
in Malaysia to an exceptionally heavy week of ministry in Singapore. (I am
hoping I can send this piece out in time.) As I come to the table I look up into
the loving eyes of the Lord and remember that He stands waiting to feed me with
His grace. I feast and am refreshed. (John 6:35)

Then there is the inward look. As I come to the Lord's table, I do an audit of
my heart. I confess known sin. I resolve to put right things that need my
attention. I remember the six directions of the Lord's Supper. No, I am not
checking if I am holy enough to take Holy Communion. I fear some cheat
themselves of the grace waiting at the table because they think they are not
worthy of the elements. We will never be worthy enough. We come to the table
precisely because we are not worthy and are in need of His grace. And He stands
ready to receive all who come with humble hearts. (1Corinthians 11:28)

These then are the six directions of the Lord's Supper. I first encountered this
useful reminder of the meaning of the Lord's Supper at a talk given by the Revd
Canon Dr Michael Green many years ago. It has remained with me since because it
is easy to remember and it so powerfully captures the richness of the meaning of
the Lord's Supper.

I fear that too often we rush through the Supper. We do it because it is part of
the liturgy. But our minds are not prepared. And so our hearts are not engaged.
It doesn't help that I am from a believer's church tradition where, in reaction
to Roman Catholic Theology, I was often told that the Lord's Supper was only a

Only a memorial? I beg to differ. The Lord's Supper is the commemoration of the
Cross, the central act of God's revelation and God's love. And while I am not
sure that the Lord is in the bread and the wine, I am very sure that the Lord,
in His Spirit, is at His table. And waiting to feed us.

This Sunday I approach the table with joy and gratitude. And have the privilege
to invite my brothers and sisters to join me. I pray that at the Lord's table we
will find fresh grace for our pilgrimage on earth. And fresh resolve to press on
till that day when we will feast with Jesus face to face.

Your brother,
Soo-Inn Tan

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