Minister’s Letter – Anglicans, Catholics, and Holy Communion, Part 4.
Given we Anglicans do not believe Christ’s body is being re-sacrificed during Holy Communion, what IS happening when we share in the Lord’s Supper? As well as an opportunity to remember the cross, Paul mentions in 1 Cor 10:16 that it’s also a participation in Christ’s death; when we take Communion, his purifying blood spilt all those years ago washes our sins away, and his body given at that first Easter appeases God’s anger against our sin.
Does this mean that our sins are still outstanding if we fail to receive Communion? No. Together with Baptism, Holy Communion is a sacrament: a visible sign of an invisible grace. The invisible grace of having our sins removed is accessed whenever we respond with faith (or trust) to the message of what Jesus has done. The sacraments are simply visual ways of relaying that same message. We hear it as the Bible is read and taught, we see it in the sacraments – Anglicanism seeks to appeal to multiple learning styles!
This is why we pray “by faith may we eat the flesh of your dear son”, and why the minister sometimes says “feed on him in your hearts by faith”. We are not eating Jesus physically but placing our faith in him as we eat and drink symbols of his sacrifice, and by doing so, accessing his work on the cross.
One more instalment to come next week!