We had a guest preacher this morning who did not supply us with a written sermon. Here are a few interesting thoughts about Holy Communion.
Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
These words have been at the center of theological debate for millennia.
Today, and for centuries, Roman Catholic doctrine has held that at the words of consecration, “This is my body” and “This is my blood”, the bread and wine cease to exist as such and become the actual Body and Blood of our Lord, while, in deference to human sensibilities, only keeping the outward appearance and taste of bread and wine. This is called transubstantiation.
Episcopalians believe in the Real Presence and in the doctrine of consubstantiation, the belief that the substance of the bread and wine coexists with the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
With the Protestant reformation, argument began over what happens at this pivotal moment in the Communion service, and escalated until 1529 when two learned men came to loggerheads. They were Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther.
Luther and his colleagues argued that the words of Jesus, with which He instituted the Lord’s Supper, clearly teach that the bread, received into the mouth of those who eat it, is —not signifies, nor represents— is the body of Christ. For Luther, Christ’s words must stand as they are revealed to us in Holy Scripture. “Is” cannot be turned into something else. This is the doctrine of the Real Presence, a term used by both Episcopalins and Roman Catholics.
Zwingli and his colleagues argued that the bread and wine only “signify” or “represent” Jesus’ body and blood, which, they argued, were not capable of being at the right hand of God the Father in heaven and in bread and wine on the altar at the same time. Because for Zwingli revelation cannot contradict reason, he made his argument for the bread “representing” Jesus’ body from passages of Scripture other than those directly connected to Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper, especially in John 6, which we read this morning.
Zwingli’s belief continues today in many Protestant churches, including the Cingregational Church, and is known as Memorialism.
No matter what a person beleives, what is most important is the Love Jesus gives us all through communion, and where our heart is when we recevie it.