Question for the Day: “What does Holy Communion mean to you?”
We are finishing our look at the teachings of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. In the last few days, we have examined “the means of grace,” those activities which open us up to God’s presence in our daily lives. We have looked at prayer and Bible study, and now we turn to the 3rd of the primary means: Holy Communion.
By far, this is the discipline that is the hardest for me to grasp. The mystical quality of it makes it less concrete than the others, and therefore, it is hard for me to put into words. All I can say, is that when someone looks into my eyes and says, “The body of Christ has been broken for you…” then I am drawn, inexplicably, even deeper into my relationship with my Savior. It is in this moment, that I feel His presence most strongly, and my heart opens up, overflowing with gratitude and repentance. It is always a sacred moment for me, and I am incredibly grateful that, as Methodists, we make it a consistent practice in worship.
I know many in our congregation have grown up in other denominations. I would love to hear how this sacrament was explained and observed in your tradition.
For a more detailed explanation of our beliefs on Holy Communion, I thought I would share the following passage, adopted by the United Methodist Church General Board of Discipleship in 2000:
“The Methodist movement in eighteenth-century England was an evangelical movement that included a revival of emphasis on the sacraments. The Wesleys recognized the power of God available in the Lord’s Supper and urged their followers to draw on that power by frequent participation. The grace available in and through the sacrament was active in conviction, repentance and conversion, forgiveness, and sanctification. John Wesley described the Lord’s Supper as “the grand channel whereby the grace of his Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all the children of God” (“Sermon on the Mount—Discourse Six,” III.11). During the years in which Methodism was beginning and growing, Wesley himself communed an average of four to five times a week. His sermon “The Duty of Constant Communion” emphasizes the role of the sacrament in the lives of Christians in ways that are keenly meaningful today. The Wesley brothers wrote and published a collection of 166 Hymns on the Lord’s Supper, which was used for meditation as well as for singing. The Wesleys understood and taught the multifaceted nature of the Lord’s Supper. They wrote about love, grace, sacrifice, forgiveness, the presence of Christ, mystery, healing, nourishment, holiness, and pledge of heaven. They knew that Holy Communion is a powerful means through which divine grace is given to God’s people. Our sacramental understandings and practices today are grounded in this heritage. ” – This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion
Thank you for taking this journey with me, in learning about some of Wesley’s more prominent teachings. It has truly been eye-opening for me, and I hope a blessing for you. If you would have an interest in learning more about the Methodist history and doctrine, please let me know. I would love to offer a Wednesday night class on this subject, if we have enough interest.
You are the Lamb that died for my sins; the One atoning sacrifice. Thank You for giving us this sacrament of Holy Communion. It helps me remember what You have done for me. It helps me to understand how much You love me. And it helps me to realize what true grace really looks like.
Approaching Your table brings so much grace and power into my life, my King. Help me to never take it for granted. Help me to treat it with the respect it deserves. And help me to be transformed by the experience, each and every time.
With an adoring heart I pray,