Thinking about the Lords’ Supper

Guided by a summary of the words of Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (a document of the World Council of  Churches’
Faith and Order Commission), we look at some of the aspects of the Lord’s Supper—also referred to as Communion
or the Eucharist. Click here to see the original document.

The Eucharist as thanksgiving to the Father

The world which God has reconciled is present in the Eucharist,
in the bread and the wine, in the persons of the faithful,
and in the prayers they offer not only for themselves but for all people.
The bread and the wine are offered to the Father in thanksgiving
as signs of what the world is to become:
an offering of praise to the Creator,
a communion in the body of Christ,
a kingdom of justice, love, and peace in the Holy Spirit.

The Eucharist as memorial of Christ

The Eucharist is the memorial of the crucified and risen Christ,
a living sign of what God accomplished once and for all on the cross
and is still effective on behalf of all humankind.
Christ himself is present in this joyful proclamation by the Church
of all God’s mighty acts of redemption.
It beseeches God to give the benefits of these acts to every human being.

The Eucharist as invocation of the Holy Spirit

The church prays to the Father that the gift of the Holy Spirit will be present
in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper,
so that the words that are said may be a reality now:
that Jesus, the crucified and risen Christ, is present
and giving his life for all humanity.

The church prays for the Spirit to lead it
into justice, truth and unity,
and empowered to fulfil its mission in the world.
Through the Spirit, the church receives the life of the new creation.

The Eucharist as communion of the faithful

The church is nourished by an intimate fellowship — communion — with Christ
as it shares the bread and cup he offers.
At the same time, those within the church are in fellowship — communion —
with all other sharers of this meal, in all times and all places.

In the eucharist the community of God’s people is fully shown.
It is a celebration that demands reconciliation and sharing with all other brothers and sisters.
In the eucharist, God’s grace renews and restores dignity,
and human disparity based on race, power politics, social concerns, or economics
is challenged and judged.

In the liturgy of the eucharist, members of the body of Christ ask forgiveness; they offer each other
the peace; they eat and drink together.
The same concerns lead the church to take the eucharist to those who are sick or in prison,
to share with them.

The Eucharist as meal of the Kingdom

In the Eucharist the Church anticipates the coming of the Kingdom of Christ
and gives thanks for the signs of the final renewal of creation,
which are present wherever God’s grace is manifest
and humans work for justice, love, and peace.
Just as Jesus ate with publicans and sinners,
so Christians are called in the Eucharist to become signs of the love of Christ.
Because Christ invites to his feast all for whom he died,
those who share this meal must be concerned about gathering also
those who are now outside their fellowship.