Showing the Lord’s Death

In the words of institution that we use, the apostle Paul says that as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we show the Lord’s death until He comes. Now the verb show here means to proclaim or declare.

This means that the entire communicant Church preaches or announces or declares. What do we declare? Paul says that we declare or preach the Lord’s death, and that we do so as long as we are eating and drinking this bread and wine until the Lord comes again.

But notice what we are not doing. We are not seeking out discussion partners. We are not engaging in fruitful dialog. We are not meeting anyone in the middle. We are not seeking to find out how the demands of the new postmodern milieu require us to reconfigure what it means to do church. We are not arguing. We are not debating. We are not lobbying in Congress.

We declare. We proclaim. We do so with authority.

But secularists and unbelievers ask, “How dare you by-pass all the troublesome questions of epistemology?” And we just chew and swallow, loving one another, discerning Christ in the body, seeing Christ in one another, and the world somehow knows that Christ is from God.

And in our own midst, we often find baptized Christians who are comfortable with this meal as “a tradition within their own faith community,” but they become radically agitated whenever we declare the death and resurrection of Jesus to the world with any kind of authority.

But we are not told to go out into all the world and tell the nations that they might have a point. We are not told to find out what the philosophers are muttering about these days and try to understand this meal in the light of that. We are not told to blend the Table of the Lord with the tables of the baals. In fact, we are told not to.

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