Michael Jenson, the ‘Blogging Parson’, lists ten really bad reasons to stop having Holy Communion.
Many of us treat this sacrament as an add-on, something we do after baptism for the same purpose as baptism: declaring ourselves among the faithful. The problem is probably compounded by the terminology we use in church. To my knowledge, nowhere does the Bible mention feeding on the word, except in places like Ezekiel 3.1–3, but Christians often talk about being ‘fed’ by the words of Scripture, or even by a sermon standing alone. As a result, whenever we speak of being spiritually fed, people think of such a metaphorical sense even before the sense of sacramental eating.
Once this sense is lost, even the thanksgiving of the Eucharist is swallowed up as our ‘own work’, a personal declaration of faith, rather than a gracious gift of God. And remind me again why we do this together, by biblical command, if it’s merely this, a chance for the individual to declare his own sincerity in commitment to the cause of Christ. No wonder, if this is the whole significance of the Eucharist, that it consists of works rather than grace through faith, even of gospelless law! – and this happens whenever we allow faith to become the supreme work that arbitrarily is set above the others.
No, let the Lord’s Supper be more than a declaration of our own faith, for which, despite our best efforts to the contrary, we often end up exalting our own faith over God’s faithfulness as the crucial matter of salvation – Calvinists are not exempt. The communal aspect of the sacrament must be significant: as God has chosen and saved a people for himself, he instructs this people to come together to celebrate and receive his gifts, being connected to the Head and the Body. Then it really is a thanksgiving of grace, not one of our own doing.
[Related: Michael Spencer has written on the importance of the Eucharist. Yes, even for Baptists.]