The Lord's Supper:
Eucharist and Communion Meditations for Disciples

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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Poussin, The Institution of the Eucharist (1640)
Detail of "The Institution of the Eucharist" (1640) by French Baroque painter Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665), oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris.  Larger image.
Having grown up in the church from infancy, I've probably partaken of the Lord's Supper nearly a thousand times. Some of you from traditions that partake once a week or more, your total could be over 2,500 -- plenty enough times to have become boring, repetitious, or practically meaningless, though a sentimental anchor that feels right to you. But communion, or Eucharist or Mass, as some call it, should be more than a ritual. It should be invested with great meaning for you and me.
 
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
My goal isn't to impose my practice on you, but help you draw from the Scriptures themselves an understanding of the Eucharist which will enrich your experience of Christ as you partake according to your own tradition. I am an ordained American Baptist pastor, currently serving in an Evangelical Covenant congregation. -- Dr. Ralph F. Wilson. About the leader.
 
 
In this 10-week online Bible study series, we'll meditate on a dozen of the rich themes that underlie the Lord's Supper. My background is Protestant. Yours may be Catholic or Orthodox. And though we may disagree on a few points of practice, we are united on this one thing: That Jesus has called us to partake of the bread and the cup regularly as part of our worship. Moreover, both Jesus and his Apostle Paul give us rich insights into the meaning of the Lord's Supper. Those we seek to explore, so that the Lord's Table can be for each us a fresh occasion of faith, worship, and love.

This won't be a doctrinal study, if you mean by doctrine that I'll give you several dogmatic propositions to believe. Nor will it be sectarian in nature. I know that sometimes Christians fight about the Lord's Supper. Shame on us! There isn't a argumentative spirit in this Bible study, but a spirit of love and peace and acceptance of our brothers and sisters. Instead of intellectual sparring, we have a hunger to experience more of Christ. If you want to fight, go elsewhere!

However, since "doctrine" really means "teaching," I will instruct you in what the Scriptures themselves teach. My goal -- both for my own soul and yours -- is to so illuminate the rich themes of communion so that the next time -- or 100 times -- you and I partake of the sacrament, we'll recall with joy and love what it really means.

So we're off on a spiritual adventure together, not unlike scuba diving. Communion, you see, is not a fixed doctrine, but a wonderful and holy mystery into which we immerse ourselves, as we explore and probe its depths. If you're a priest, pastor, or preacher, a deacon, elder, or lay leader, you'll find the makings of many sermons and communion meditations here. But my prayer for you is that you first feed your own soul on the heavenly bread so that you may be spiritually nourished to feed your people.

Lord's Supper: Meditations for Disciples on the Eucharist or Communion
Available as e-book and paperback.

I invite you to come with me on a journey through time and spirit as we explore together the Lord's Supper. Here are the topics we'll look at week by week:

  1. My Body, My Blood -- Literal or Figurative?
    Excursus: A Brief History of the Doctrine of the Real Presence and Transubstantiation
  2. Remembering and Proclaiming Christ's Death (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26)
  3. Being Sharers in the Sacrifice (1 Corinthians 10:16, 18)
  4. My Body Given for You (Luke 22:19b)
  5. My Blood Poured Out for Many (Matthew 26:28)
  6. A New Covenant in My Blood (1 Corinthians 11:25)
  7. The Cup of Blessing and the One Loaf (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
  8. Eating His Flesh, Drinking His Blood (John 6:53-57)
  9. The Lord's Supper and the Great Banquet (Luke 22:16, 18; Matthew 26:29)
  10. Preparing for the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-22, 27-34)

Here's how we'll study together over the next 11 weeks (with a couple of planned breaks):

  • Each Saturday I'll e-mail you the lesson for the week. Then you'll read the Bible passage and use my notes to help you understand it better.
  • On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe Thursday, you'll receive a question from that week's lesson to think about and answer. This is designed as a "total immersion" approach to Bible study, since I believe God wants to use it to work real and permanent change in your life. (You can opt out of the daily questions if you like, however, and just receive the weekly lessons.) You'll be thinking about these passages constantly for over these weeks -- long enough for God to work his Word into your life and lifestyle.
  • You can respond to the questions using the Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum -- and read others' answers to reinforce your own understanding.
  • With each lesson you'll receive a link to a 20- to 30-minute audio teaching that sums up the passage you've been studying that week. Some who learn better from hearing than from reading really appreciate this.
  • Then on Saturday, I'll send you the next week's lesson.
 Flags of many nationsAs of May 25, 2006, we've had 1,915 sign-ups from more than 83 countries, including: United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Albania, Netherlands Antilles, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Brazil, Bahamas, Botswana, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Germany, Algeria, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Spain, Ethiopia, Fiji, Micronesia (Federal States of), France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, HongKong, Croatia/Hrvatska, Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, India, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Japan, Kenya, Korea (Republic of), Kuwait, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Myanmar, Malta, Maldives, Mexico, Malaysia, Namibia, Nigeria, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sudan, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Virgin Islands (British), South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 15% specify text format, 85% HTML format. 35% selected the weekly format, 65% the daily format.

Sign up now!

To sign up, start by clicking on your e-mail frequency preference:

You'll receive your first lesson the Friday after you sign up. There is no cost to participate in the study, though donations are encouraged so we can create more studies and reach more people.

We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.

Please don't sign up for more than one of my Bible studies at one time. There's no penalty, but each of them is pretty intensive. If you try to do too many studies at the same time without adequate reflection, you'll miss out on God speaking to you.

 

One big favor you can do for me: Please link to this Bible study in your blog, personal webpage, ministry or church website, as follows: Lord's Supper: Eucharist and Communion Meditations for Disciples www.jesuswalk.com/lords-supper/  The number of people who will find this on the Internet is directly related to the number of links you and others place. If you can't link, that's okay, too. I understand.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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