Dear Friends,

It is subtly easy for us to become one step removed from Jesus. One way this happens is when we focus on the service (or the liturgy) rather than what the service / liturgy is supposed to point to. This problem of moving “one step away” is deepened when there are strong liturgical habits which influence language. The communion service is a classic example.

There are four Bible passages which teach that Jesus instituted the “Lord’s Supper” or “Holy Communion.” They are: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. There are several commands in these texts, but for now, the key one is “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Thomas Cramner, was a key figure in the English Reformation and a martyr. He is the writer of the Book of Common Prayer, and his 1552 Book of Common Prayer has been the basis of orthodox Anglican worship ever since. All of the services at Messiah are based on that book.

Listen to what Cramner wrote for the Presbyter to say as he distributed the bread during Communion, “The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you, preserve your body and soul into everlasting life: Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on Him in your heart by faith, with thanksgiving.” Listen to what the Presbyter is to say as he distributes the wine, “The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for you, preserve your body and soul unto everlasting life: Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.”

These are biblically, theologically, spiritually rich sentences which keep us focused on Jesus and His once-for-all death. They are well worth remembering and thinking upon. At the 8am service, I say the full sentence as I distribute communion. I also usually leave my microphone on at the 10am service as I distribute communion to the helpers. If you listen, you will hear me say the full sentences.

Our current arrangement at the Ottawa Little Theatre makes it hard to say the full sentences as communion is distributed. To say, “the body of Christ” or “the blood of Christ” is common but not correct. It is not biblically correct and it also is unwise, because it is one step removed from Jesus, calling us to focus on the liturgy and not on Jesus. A better short form is, “Remember Jesus Christ crucified!”