What does this table represent? It represents the blamelessness and innocence of Jesus Christ. To whom is this table given? It is given to the blameless and innocent community of Jesus Christ. In Christ, our lives are rescued and our lights shine brightly in a crooked and twisted generation. This is why the Supper is for us a renewal of our races. It is here where Christ reminds us that our race is not in vain and here where He reminds us that it took the pouring out of body and blood to get us in the race to begin with. It is this self-giving theme that dominates this table and it is this self-giving theme that unites us as a people.
Many have asked about this link, so I am posting it here.
I am currently working my way through these. This conference provides a wonderful introduction to the man who opened the wardrobe to all readers.
Two of my favorite theologians talk about Paul. Mike Bird interviews Wright on his latest work.
There is a trend in the evangelical world today. It has gone for far too long unchallenged. It is the personalized and individualized practice of solo communion. As the words of the Eucharist are being said, evangelicals immediately curl up and enter into a mystical state of self-analysis. This continual introspection follows the common theme of most evangelical churches. It follows a form of worm theology. One feels “unworthy”–to use Paul’s words– of partaking of the Eucharist. a
This is manifested when the recipients contemplate their sins or manufacture images of the crucified Jesus in their mind during the passing of the elements. By interpreting Jesus’ words “remembering the Lord’s death” as a reference to silent meditation and contemplation of one’s sinfulness, evangelicals have by and large returned to 16th practice of private mass. As Jeff Meyers rightly observed:
But there’s another problem with the way modern Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper that might be labeled as “private mass” or maybe just “private communion.” The word “communion” refers not only to our communion with the resurrected Jesus through the bread and wine at the Supper. There’s also a horizontal dimension to the Table that flows from union with Jesus. We are united with one another. We commune with Jesus and with one another. “Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of one loaf” (1 Cor. 10:17).
A proper evangelical liturgy will do well to include occasions for confession during the service, but the Lord’s Supper is not that place. If there is something that needs to be dealt with may it be done before the Supper or before the service (preferably). But do not let the Lord’s Supper become a time to catch up on your confessional account.
The Lord’s Supper, then, is to be a time of great enjoyment and relaxation. Jesus gives His Bride rest from her labors, so too we are to enjoy the rest given by our Lord. The Church needs to enjoy the company of one another; they need to one another one another with words of comfort and joy, rather than somber individualized contemplation.
The Table is for our enjoyment. The God of joy broke His Son, so that we might be one, and then He gave us His joy in wine that we might give thanks and embody that joy in the communion of saints. “Celebrating communion by myself” cannot exist in a community. Community exists so that we might esteem others better than ourselves. In the Lord’s Supper, introspection is not desired; rather, incarnational theology is lived out together.
- There is a theology of unworthiness at the Table, but this is certainly not it (back)
Paul’s theology of imitation is a profound theme in his writings. For Paul, Jesus is the way to glory and following that way means we are to become like Jesus. In Philippians, Paul exalts Jesus as the light of the world in the midst of a “crooked and twisted generation” (Phil. 2:15). Imitation begins when we are able to see that light as desirable. Paul’s context speaks to the allurement of the Old World. The Old World appealed to the flesh. It was a world of darkness and void. The Old World imitated the dark world of Genesis one before God spoke light into it.
Paul’s theology is offered in the middle of darkness. The Philippians, though consistent in faith (Phil. 2:12), needed to be exhorted to pursue it without fear and trembling, lest their light began to fade. But Paul’s imitation theology was not a theology of perfection it was a theology of inspection; a theology that called us to guard our hearts against the attractions that came our way. These attractions pushed the Philippians to other sources for imitation. Imitation demands seeing the light, cutting off the darkness, and replacing it with life in the Spirit. Imitation is spiritual surgery. To become like Jesus we must do away with selfish ambitions and become like our self-giving Messiah.
Paul’s portrait of the suffering Messiah and the exalted King was meant as an evangelical allurement to the Philippians. “If you want someone to imitate, here’s a suffering Servant who abandoned His heavenly glory, and then gave up His earthly body for our sake.” “Imitate Him!” is Paul’s plea as he writes from prison.
Hold fast to His words of light. He is the light of the world. The Psalmist prayed for guidance when he said: “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light into my path,” but that prayer was fulfilled in Jesus who became the lamp to guide our feet to the nations and a light to guide our paths to righteousness.
“A marriage which does not constantly crucify its own selfishness and self-sufficiency, which does not “die to itself” that it may point beyond itself, is not a Christian marriage. The real sin of marriage today is not adultery or lack of “adjustment” or “mental cruelty.” It is the idolization of the family itself, the refusal to understand marriage as directed toward the Kingdom of God. This is expressed in the sentiment that one would “do anything” for his family, even steal. The family has here ceased to be for the glory of God; it has ceased to be a sacramental entrance into his presence. It is not the lack of respect for the family, it is the idolization of the family that breaks the modern family so easily, making divorce its almost natural shadow. It is the identification of marriage with happiness and the refusal to accept the cross in it. In a Christian marriage, in fact, three are married; and the united loyalty of the two toward the third, who is God, keeps the two in an active unity with each other as well as with God. Yet it is the presence of God which is the death of the marriage as something only “natural.” It is the cross of Christ that brings the self-sufficiency of nature to its end. But “by the cross, joy entered the whole world.” Its presence is thus the real joy of marriage. It is the joyful certitude that the marriage vow, in the perspective of the eternal Kingdom, is not taken “until death parts,” but until death unites us completely.” – Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World
Without a doubt this is one of my favorite conferences of the year. First, because the saints of Auburn are hospitable people. Secondly, because the speakers are usually insightful and encouraging. Finally, because we roar the Psalms and hymns. I am looking forward to it.
The very meticulous systematician, Robert L. Reymond, is now with the Lord. I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Reymond briefly during a lunch break at a Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Fl. He was best known for his New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (1998). I have used it continually over the years for my studies. His detailed references a
Reymond was an ordained minister in Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Find a list of available resources by Dr. Reymond at The Gospel Coalition. Also, check out his Sermon Audio page for .mp3s of his sermons and lectures. Amazon.com has a list of several of his books.
- His Clarkian styled logic was evident in every page of his labors. ((See http://theaquilareport.com/breaking-news-dr-robert-l-reymond-has-died/ (back)