My brother Travis has got a lot of gears cranking with a recent Revelife post on the subject of the Lord’s Supper. His issue is basically that in addition to the presence of Christ, we need to bear in mind the presence of other believers to hold us to ethical and theological account.
Stanley Grenz, in his imminently readable Theology for the Community of God, describes the Lord’s Supper as a reaffirmation of our identity as a community gathered around Christ. The Supper binds together believes past, present and future, and its significance lies “in its relationship to the future as grounded in the past.” How so? Grenz lays it out like this.
Past – The Lord’s Supper is a memorial meal. It is a reenactment of the Last Supper, when we fulfill Jesus’ command to “Do this in remembrance of me.” In this way, according to Grenz, we symbolically enter into the Jesus story:
Future – Unique to Matthew, Jesus issues a promise during the institution of the Lord’s Supper. He says, “I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” To Grenz this means that we do not look only to what happened in the past, but are “drawn into the future… There we meet the risen Jesus who has gone before us into God’s eschatalogical kingdom through his resurrection, which we will one day share in.” But the future isn’t only anticipation, but also an experience we share in the present. “Through the Holy Spirit,” Grenz writes, “Jesus’ promise becomes a present reality. Our Lord comes among us and communes with us… The celebration is an experience of present community.”