While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Basis
The United Reformed Church celebrates the gospel sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. When in obedience to the Lord’s command his people show forth his sacrifice on the cross by the bread broken and the wine poured for them to eat and drink, he himself, risen and ascended, is present and gives himself to them for their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace. United with him and with the whole Church on earth and in heaven, his people gathered at his table present their sacrifice of thanksgiving and renew the offering of themselves, and rejoice in the promise of his coming in glory. (15)
The breaking of the bread and the pouring of the wine play a key role in Jesus’ life and ministry. This offering takes place at a particular moment on Jesus’ path of suffering leading to the Cross. Yet it is also a gift given for all of time. It is the gift of Jesus’ renewing presence and points to the nourishment Jesus gives, week in, week out, day in, day out.
In some traditions of the Church, the daily offering of bread and wine emphasises the closeness of Jesus and the regular receiving of his renewing life which is possible. In other traditions, a quarterly offering emphasises the key significance of the bread and wine, a gift binding the people of God together, but not to be taken for granted by too regular reception.
While in the United Reformed Church, Holy Communion was traditionally offered on a monthly basis, the union with the Churches of Christ brought into the URC the practice of a weekly celebration. The Basis of Union does not refer to the regularity of the celebration, only to the significance of this. Local congregations have the freedom to decide how regular this celebration might be.
The Lord’s Supper lies at the heart of the Churches’ life. It draws together, through the power of the Holy Spirit, both the brokenness of Jesus’ body and the new life promised in the resurrection. Holy Communion is both the point of renewal and of the sending out of God’s people. At the Holy Table, the people are gathered together as one people in one place, to receive again the new life in Christ, and drawn into God’s offering of love reaching out across the world, in each place and at all times.
Loving God, You are ever present in bread and wine. In and through this holy sacrament, may I know again that I am forgiven. Renew my life, build the life of the community, draw me into sharing in your offering for the world. Open my heart to receive you. as I receive, may my life overflow with your love for all people. Amen.
The Rev’d Dr Elizabeth Welch, retired from pastoral charge, active ecumenically and theologically, member of St Andrew’s Church, Ealing.
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