URC Daily Devotion Saturday 1st October 2022

Saturday 1 October 2022 
Jubilee 1 The Frequency of Holy Communion

Luke 24:28-31

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.


One area which troubles me in the United Reformed Church is our practice of Holy Communion, and I’m not convinced that we have honoured all our uniting traditions as carefully as we might.  

English Presbyterians celebrated Communion very infrequently, the most common pattern being quarterly.  Their thinking was that this was a solemn event, too special to be celebrated too often, preceded by preparation and followed by thanksgiving.  To borrow a domestic analogy, perhaps like a family birthday party where everyone gathers once a year for a major celebration. 

By contrast, Churches of Christ celebrated Communion every week as the main act of worship.  Their thinking was that this was so special it needed to be the normative and main act of worship.  Borrowing the same domestic analogy, this was perhaps like the family that gathers every week for a family meal – we all go to mum and dad’s house for Sunday lunch. 

I can see great merit in both of those approaches, but I have to confess that a monthly celebration of Holy Communion, which seems to be the norm in the United Reformed Church, does little for my spiritual life because it’s neither one nor the other.

The Basis of Union, which sets out the main doctrines of the United Reformed Church, was clearly inspired by today’s passage from Luke’s gospel.  It sets out a very strong theology of Holy Communion (paragraph 15) which is no mere memorial to one who is still alive, and whom we meet in each celebration of Holy Communion.  What we call the Lord’s Supper is not just the Last Supper, but a celebration of the living presence of the risen Christ with us, as it was when they broke bread in Emmaus.

Might our jubilee be a moment to reconsider whether we have missed a trick from some of our uniting traditions? 



Father of all, 
we give you thanks and praise, 
that when we were still far off 
you met us in your Son and brought us home. 
Dying and living, 
he declared your love, 
gave us grace, 
and opened the gate of glory.
May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; 
we who drink his cup bring life to others; 
we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.  
Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, 
so we and all your children shall be free, 
and the whole earth live to praise your name; 
through Christ our Lord.  Amen.



Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Michael Hopkins is minister of a group of Methodist and United Reformed Churches in and around Farnham, Surrey, and Clerk of the General Assembly.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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