Means of Grace- The Lord’s Supper

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Dinnertime

Eating. Food. Sustenance. Chow. Grub.

Whatever you like to call it, it is perhaps our most basic biological need- our need to eat. And drink.

Think about it- We eat three meals a day. That’s twenty one meals a week, and one thousand and ninety two meals a year. Plus snacks.

That’s a lot of food.

As a dad, it seems like my kids eat much more than that on a daily basis.  It’s like every time I turn around they’re telling me: “Daddy, I’m hungry!” They’re growing, so they eat. A lot.

My 5 yr old daughter, Abi, I am convinced, is going to be taller than me before she’s out of elementary school, but that’s another topic for another time.

I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that the food that we eat is converted into energy that our bodies need to function. Of course, the quality and type of food you put into your body will directly result in how well your body functions (says the guy who eats ice cream too much).

Soul Food

Along similar lines, C.S. Lewis described it this way in Mere Christianity: “A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.  He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on.  There is no other,” (Mere Christianity, p. 50).

Even our souls need to eat, and it’s not like we’ve been left to fend for ourselves.

See, that’s the whole idea behind what Wesley called the “means of grace.”  It’s what my worship professor, Dr. Bob Stamps, described like this: “Grace is God coming in mercy to help us,”

or, more specifically: “The basic dictionary meaning for grace is “aid.”  But it is really God coming to us, by means of a created thing to help us,” (Class Notes, p. 28).

Wesley’s Take

Wesley makes the same argument in his sermon The Means of Grace:

“Is not the eating of that bread, and the drinking of that cup, the visible means whereby God conveys into our souls all that spiritual grace, that righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which were purchased by the body of Christ once broken and the blood of Christ one shed for us?  Let all, therefore, who truly desire the grace of God, eat of that bread and drink of that cup,” (Means of Grace, III. 12).

God gives us something tangible, something physical, something created, as earthy and ordinary as a loaf of bread and a cup of juice (or wine) to put grace into our hearts. And in true Wesleyan fashion, he believed that the Lord’s Supper should be offered to “all…who truly desire the grace of God…” Wesley believed in an open table, that it was not just for some, or not even just for those who are seeking Christian Perfection, but for anyone who is seeking God.

Grace

Which really shows how deeply Wesley believed in grace. He, as an Anglican priest, believed that God could meet someone, anyone, wherever they were in their lives, because it would provide nourishment for the soul.

One of the things I love about the Lord’s Supper, is that it’s the one Sacrament that we can partake of again and again. Unlike baptism, which is a “one and done,” kind of thing, God offers His grace to us by way of bread and cup time and time and time again.  To me, I think it serves as a reminder of our continual need for grace, as we walk through this journey called life.

In closing, I would like to share a Seedbed video that I think really illustrates these points well:

We always say in church, or in prayer, that God is rich in love, and grace and in mercy. What I love most about the Lord’s Supper, is that it is a physical, tangible, outpouring of that grace, through the simple means of a loaf of bread, and a cup.

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