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Weekly Reflections

Introducing the Anglican Church: 6. The Lord's Supper 6 July14

Introducing the Anglican Church: 6. The Lord's Supper

We are looking at some of the key teachings of the Anglican Church as found in the 39 Articles, one of the foundation documents of the Anglican Church of Australia. This is a simple modern English version (the original 16th and 17th century version is in the Prayer Book).

Article 28. About the Lord's Supper

Simple English: The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have to one another; it is also a sacrament of our redemption by Christ’s death. If we receive the sacrament with faith and in a worthy manner,  the bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ; and the cup of blessing is a sharing in the blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord cannot be proved by holy scripture but is rejected by the plain words of scripture, contradicts the nature of a sacrament, and has produced many superstitions.

The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the supper only in a spiritual manner. It is received and eaten by faith. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not ordered by Christ to be reserved, lifted up, carried about or worshipped.

The Book of Common Prayer titled this service “The Order of the Administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.”  The Roman Catholic church calls it the Mass.  Some Anglicans call it the Eucharist (from a Greek word meaning thanksgiving).
This Article, like the one about Baptism, refers to the sign. The Lord’s Supper is a sign of the love Christians have for one another. It is also a sign of our redemption. Another way to say this is that the bread and cup are a means by which we can have a share in the death of Jesus.

 

The sign reminds us both of the death of Jesus and of what it means. When we receive the sign, then we are able, by faith, to receive the promise of redemption which the sign points to. However the Article also states the social aspect of the sacrament. It is a sign of the fellowship and love shared by those who gather around the same table as the Lord.

Anglicans believe that the bread and wine does not change during the Holy Communion service. The bread and wine are signs of the body and blood of Christ. They represent God’s forgiveness and the eternal life that results from his death.
The doctrine of transubstantiation contradicts the nature of a sacrament because it teaches that the sign is the same as the thing signified. According to the last rubric in the service of Holy Communion, the body and blood of Christ are not physically present because they are in heaven.

That is why, in the Holy Communion service, the body of Christ is received only in a spiritual manner, only by faith.
In the Service of Communion for the Sick, in the Book of Common Prayer, it is stated that if a sick person is unable to receive the sacrament by mouth, they are still able to eat and drink the body and blood of the Lord if they repent and believe and give thanks for Christ’s redemption, ie they eat and drink by faith.

The Article also says that the sacrament must not be kept after the service has finished. The reason is so that it will not be worshiped.

Dale

 

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