The Lord’s Table
Different churches use different expressions and have different practices when it comes to the Table. There are even several names, depending on your background and type of church you’ve attended – the Eucharist, the Lord’s Table, Communion, the Lord’s Supper. These are all synonymous for the Table.
We celebrate the Table each week, but each time we participate should be holy, important and meaningful. It’s really the climax of our worship and a response to God’s Word. By eating the bread and drinking the cup, we publicly acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord. Coming up to the Table is an act of worship and time to remember the sacrifice of Christ’s body and the pouring out of his blood on our behalf.
The Lord’s Table is not just an ordinary meal but one we eat together in fellowship with Christ, in his presence at his table.
To treat the Table like any other ordinary thing dishonors God.
What does the Bible teach about the Lord’s Table?
Jesus said, I am the bread of life… I am the living bread that came down from heaven (John 6:48, 51)
Jesus instituted the Table this way:
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:26-28).
Coming to the Table shows our belief that Jesus died for me and his death accomplished our redemption.
When we participate in the Table, we symbolize Christ’s death because our actions give a picture of his death for us. We participate and we proclaim the Lord’s death (1 Corinthians 11:26).
When we participate in this meal through faith, and renew again our trust in Christ for salvation, God provides spiritual nourishment, blessing and strengthening (John 6:53-57).
The Table offers a beautiful sign of Christian unity. It says in 1 Corinthians 10:17, “And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing we are one body.”
All this paints a picture rich with meaning – so when we participate in the Table, we come into the presence of Christ; we remember that he died for me; we participate in the benefits of his death; we receive spiritual nourishment; and we are united with all other believers who participate in this Supper (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 990).
Who can take from the Lord’s Table?
Only those who believe in Christ should participate in the Lord’s Table. After all, the Table is a sign both of being a Christian and continuing in the Christian life. At New Hope Church the Table is open to all who love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. We ask that if you have not experienced new life in him, please refrain from participating and allow us to bear witness of our faith.
Many traditions teach that baptism should precede participation in the Table. That is because baptism is the sign and symbol of beginning the Christian life and the Table represents the ongoing continuation of following Christ. We do not require this at New Hope, however we do recommend that Christians participate in both believers baptism and the Lord’s Table.
The Apostle Paul warns that those who eat or drink in an unworthy manner face serious consequences. To do that is to treat the Table like something ordinary when it is not. Paul counsels that we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup. If we eat and drink without honoring the body of Christ, we eat and drink God’s judgment on ourselves (see 1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
While there is no age requirement for taking the bread and cup, there is one as it relates to belief. We ask parents to be sensitive to their children’s desire to come to the Table if they have not trusted Christ yet.
How do we observe the Lord’s Table?
New Hope Church celebrates the Lord’s Table each week. The Apostle Paul told us that every time we eat the bread and drink the cup, we announce the Lord’s death. Isn’t that precisely what we want to do? Christianity is about God saving sinners by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Celebrating the Table affirms Christ’s love for us. Jesus invites us to come. It’s a sensory-filled reaffirmation that Jesus Christ loves me. The Table is a foretaste of the great banquet table of the King. He has saved us and made us members of his family.
Most often when we celebrate the Table, we invite people to take a moment and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice. Then you are invited up to the Table to take bread and eat it. That represents our confession that Jesus died for me, that he cleansed me of my sin, that by his death he defeated the powers of sin and death in my life. It is a proclamation – I need you and trust you, Lord Jesus. Forgive my sins and give me grace and strength to keep following you.
Then we take the cup. We have both juice and wine available. Jesus used wine, but we want to allow another alternative for those who do not wish to consume wine. We typically drink the cup together to represent the unity we have as part of the body of Christ.
If you have questions about any aspect of the Table or whether you should participate, please speak to the pastor.
What is the Lord’s Table?
Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we all will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s Kingdom.