From Eucharist to Euangelion image

From Eucharist to Euangelion

Todd Billings argues that our understanding of salvation and our practice of the Lord's Supper are more connected than we realise. In his recent Remembrance, Communion and Hope: Rediscovering the Gospel at the Lord's Table, he points out that when he asks his students for the meaning of (1) Communion and (2) salvation, the answers almost always correspond. When students say that the meaning of the Supper is remembrance of the cross, they will usually reply that salvation is about forgiveness of sins; if they reply something else to (1), they will usually reply something else to (2) as well. This is because "on the level of functional theology, there is a sense that the Lord's Supper should point to what is most significant about the message of salvation."

This cuts both ways. Our Eucharistic liturgy is obviously shaped by our soteriology, but our soteriology is shaped by our Eucharistic liturgy as well. So if we want people to have a clearer grasp of (say) union with Christ, it will help us if we stress the (present) communion with Jesus as we break bread, not just the (past) forgiveness of sins. If we want people to grasp the hope of resurrection, it will help us if we find ways to emphasise the ways in which Supper is a foretaste of the (future) eschatological banquet; if, that is, we hear 1 Corinthians 11:26 as often as 11:25.

The Lord’s Supper is a meal of remembrance, communion and hope (hence his title). If, as Billings suggests, “many congregations have blind spots” to two of these three themes, then reworking our practice of Communion to help us see them, and even taste them, would surely be a good idea.

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