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The first Christian account of the Lord’s Supper

September 4, 2023

Daily Scripture

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23 I received a tradition from the Lord, which I also handed on to you: on the night on which he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread. 24 After giving thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this to remember me.” 25 He did the same thing with the cup, after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you broadcast the death of the Lord until he comes.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Most scholars date Paul’s first letter to Christians in the city of Corinth around 54-55 C.E., ten years or more before the earliest gospel. “Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians are our primary source of information about the Lord’s Supper.” * The apostle had a practical reason for sharing this Christian “tradition.” Some Corinthian Christians held to Greek social customs built on rank (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20-22). But the Supper should unite the church, not divide it (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

  • In the Roman Empire, dying on a cross was a horrible, disgraceful fate. No one ever said, “Be sure to tell people I died on a cross”—no one until Jesus. But the young, rapidly spreading Christian movement had this central act of worship, one Jesus himself started on the night before his execution, which (as the apostle put it) “broadcast the death of the Lord.” How can Communion help to remind you that you serve a Lord the Romans executed?
  • At most Christian Communion services, everyone gets the same amount of bread, the same amount of juice in the cup. No one feasts; no one starves. Yet in subtle or overt ways, today’s economic and social divisions seep into church life anyway. How can Communion help you focus on Paul’s teaching that the church is “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13)? How can sharing Communion move us all toward living our faith as a family set free from human divisions?

Living Lord, thank you for the Lord’s Supper, when I can act out you being as integral to my spiritual life as the juice-soaked bread becomes part of my physical life. Thank you for welcoming me to your family table. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel was born, raised, and attended college in California. Her Master of Divinity degree is from Duke Divinity School. She was ordained in the Rio Texas Conference, serving as an associate pastor in the Austin area and San Antonio. From congregational care and welcoming guests to leading in worship, Valerie loves the ministry of the local church. She feels blessed to have served as a pastor since 2011. She juggles ministry with being a mom to Caleb (born 2012) and Jacob (born 2015), friend, avid reader, lover of the outdoors, beginner to the world of CrossFit, and foodie.

I didn’t grow up United Methodist. In the tradition I was a part of, and in my family, there was a stronger emphasis on adults and older youth, but not children, receiving Communion. I remember sitting in the pews and watching my parents receive the bread and the juice as it was passed down the aisle. While I appreciate the reverence that community had for The Lord’s Supper, I also value our Wesleyan understanding of Communion.

As Pastor Adam shared in his sermon, Christ beckons us, comes to us, enters us, forgives us, and satisfies our hungry heart. It is Jesus who does the inviting to the Table, and it is Jesus who makes it possible for us to receive the gift of his body and blood. The thanks we give is a response to God’s grace and goodness. As a child I wanted to take Communion because I felt in my heart that it was something good. I was gathered with a community that I loved in a space I felt safe. I wanted that bread and juice because other people were having it. While my home church didn’t intend for me to feel separate from the community that was how I felt. I knew Jesus loved me. I wanted what he offers to us in the Eucharist.

I love being United Methodist for so many reasons. One of them is that we believe that if you hear God calling you to receive Communion then you should come, eat, and taste how good God is. God’s grace is for you, and it will change your life. It has changed mine. And now as a pastor I have the privilege of sharing Communion with people of all ages because God’s gifts are for all people. God loves you and you are welcome at God’s Table. There is more than enough room and there is a seat just for you.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Article “Supper” in Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 829.