23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
At its very heart, the Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and anticipate His second coming. I believe with all my heart that this is as Jesus intended this simple meal to be interpreted. Anything beyond this only adds confusion to an otherwise unpretentious reminder of how much God loves us.
To illustrate, I share the following story first related by the famed communicator, Dr. Terry Fullam:
I'm thinking of a small-town church in upstate New York. They'd had a rector in that church for over thirty-five years. He was loved by the church and the community. After he retired, he was replaced by a young priest. It was his first church; he had a great desire to do well. He had been at the church several weeks when he began to perceive that the people were upset at him. He was troubled.
Eventually he called aside one of the lay leaders of the church and said, "I don't know what's wrong, but I have a feeling that there's something wrong."
The man said, "Well, Father, that's true. I hate to say it, but it's the way you do the Communion service."
"The way I do the Communion service? What do you mean?"
"Well, it's not so much what you do as what you leave out."
"I don't think I leave out anything from the Communion service."
"Oh yes, you do. Just before our previous rector administered the chalice and wine to the people, he'd always go over and touch the radiator. And, then, he would--"
"Touch the radiator? I never heard of that liturgical tradition."
So the younger man called the former rector. He said, "I haven't even been here a month, and I'm in trouble."
"In trouble? Why?"
"Well, it's something to do with touching the radiator. Could that be possible? Did you do that?"
"Oh yes, I did. Always before I administered the chalice to the people, I touched the radiator to discharge the static electricity so I wouldn't shock them."
For over thirty-five years, the untutored people of his congregation had thought that was a part of the holy tradition. I have to tell you that church has now gained the name, "The Church of the Holy Radiator."
That's a ludicrous example, but often it's nothing more profound than that. Traditions get started, and people endure traditions for a long time. They mix it up with practical obedience to the living God.
As this story symbolizes, down through the centuries, a lot of man-made traditions have been built up around the Lord’s Supper – some of which could be considered are good; but a lot of which are not. What I love most about the Lord’s Supper is the beauty of its simplicity.
While fraught with rich symbolism and arguably unfathomable in its fullest theological implications, it nonetheless seems to me that our Lord has given us a beautiful reminder of His love that is so simple that even a child can understand it. No doubt we should endeavor, as much as it possible, to keep it that way.
SOURCE: This story originated with Dr. Terry Fullam. Though deceased, his material is still available widely on the internet, most often as citations within other works. See, for instance: http://www.fhefc.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/
docs/Mark_0701-23_The_Dangers_of_Legalism_2015.8181648.pdf. As well as: http://www.fbcwesttawakoni.org/sermon/Following%20the%20Examples%20of%20Jesus%20%20%20John%2013_14_17.pdf.
This particular story is most often cited as being from: "Worship: What We're Doing, and Why," Preaching Today, Tape No. 102.
SEE ALSO: http://lifeonwings.org/terry-fuliman.php, and also:https://en.wikipedia.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/niv/1_corinthians/11.htm.