This Holy Mystery

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					This Holy Mystery

A United Methodist
 Understanding of
 Holy Communion
             Names of the Sacrament

• The Lord’s supper – reminds us that Jesus
  Christ is the host and that we participate at
  his invitation
• Holy Communion - invites us to focus on
  the self-giving of the Holy God, which
  makes the sacrament an occasion of grace
  and on the holiness of our communion with
  God and one another.
• Eucharist – the Greek word for thanksgiving,
  reminds us that the sacrament is thanksgiving
  to God for the gifts of creation and salvation.
• Mass – derived from the Latin word missio
  meaning “sending forth” and indicates that
  this celebration brings the worship service to a
  close by sending forth the congregation with
  God’s blessing to live as God’s people in the
• Divine Liturgy – Used most by Orthodox
• All the names are for the same practice.
         United Methodist Heritage

• The Methodist Movement in the eighteenth
  century was an evangelical movement that
  included a revival of emphasis on the
• The Wesleys recognized the power of God
  available in the Lord’s Supper and urged
  their followers to draw on that power by
  frequent participation.
      The grace available in and
through the sacrament was active

•   In conviction
•   In repentance and conversion
•   In forgiveness
•   In sanctification
•   John Wesley described the Lord’s Supper as
    “The grand channel whereby the grace of
    his Spirit was conveyed to the souls of all
    the children of God”
               The Multifaceted Nature
                  of the Lord’s Supper

• It expressed God’s love, grace, sacrifice and
• It was the presence of Christ, a Mystery
• It was a source of healing, nourishment,
• It was a pledge of heaven.
• The Wesleys wrote 166 hymns for meditation
  and singing about Holy Communion.
 Evangelical and United Brethren

• Albright, Otterbein and Boehn left little
  written material, so there are few references
  to their theology and practice of Holy
• The Journal of Christian Newcomer shows
  that the sacrament had a significant place in
  the life of the church.
• Early Methodists received communion in
  Anglican Churches.
• When that source was lost after the
  Revolutionary war.
• The need for ordained clergy to provide the
  sacrament was a major reason Wesley
  provided ordained elders for America.
• Because of a shortage of elders, communion
  was often served only on a quarterly basis.
• Even after more elders became available the
  habit of quarterly communion was difficult
  to change.
• Holy Communion was considered a sacred
  and solemn event.
• The tone of the ritual was deeply
  penitential, calling on people to repent and
  having less emphasis on celebration of
  God’s grace.
• During the nineteenth and twentieth
  centuries the rich Wesleyan understandings
  of Eucharist were largely lost, and the
  sacrament became understood only as a
  memorial of the death of Christ.
• In many churches attendance on
  communion Sundays became low.
• A revitalization of the sacrament started in
  the mid-twentieth century.
   Communion within the context
    of United Methodist Theology

• We are sinners.
• We are constantly in need of divine grace.
• God is gracious and loving, always making
  available the grace we need.
• Grace is God’s love towards us, God’s free
  and undeserved gift.
• All grace is prevenient.
• The grace of God is made available through
  the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
  Christ and works in our lives through the
  presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
• God has designated certain means or
  channels through which grace is most
  surely and immediately available.
• These channels convey to us preventing,
  justifying and sanctifying grace.
        The Theology of Sacraments

• The Greek word used by the early church for
  the sacrament is mysterion, translated mystery.
• In Latin the word used is sacramentum,
  meaning a vow or promise.
• The sacraments were instituted by Christ and
  give to the church.
• Jesus Christ himself is the ultimate
  manifestation of a sacrament.
• Holy Communion is the sacrament that
  sustains and nourishes us in our journey of
• God uses tangible, material things as
  vehicles or instruments of grace.
• “An outward sign of inward grace, and a
  means whereby we receive the same.”
                         The Meaning of
                        Holy Communion

• Holy Communion is Eucharist, an act of
• Holy Communion is the communion of the church –
  the gathering community of the faithful, both local
  and universal.
• Holy Communion is remembrance, commemoration,
  and memorial, but this remembrance is much more
  than simply intellectual retelling.
• Holy Communion is a type of sacrifice. It is a re-
  presentation, not a repetition of the sacrifice of
• Holy Communion is eschatological, meaning that
  it has to do with the end of history, the outcome of
  God’s purpose for the world
• Holy Communion is a vehicle of God’s grace
  through the action of the Holy Spirit
Who can receive communion?
Is Communion Jesus’ body?
Can children receive communion?
Can non-UM members receive?
How often should we have it?
Who can serve communion?
Who consecrates communion?
How is the table extended?
What is the role of the Deacon?
Wine or grape juice?
What do you do with left-overs?
How does communion
       express unity?

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