The following is the text from my bulletin insert. I am designing a series of weekly inserts to help me better explain the Wesleyan Way of Discipleship. You can download a pdf of this insert at the end of blog.
This week, you are encouraged to ask a church member the following:
How often do you think someone should take communion? Would you be willing to do so every Sunday?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could encounter Christ present in our world today? What would you say if I told you we could?
We can encounter Christ every time we receive the elements of Holy Communion.
As United Methodists, we view Communion as a sacrament. That means that we believe that something more than just a simple ritual is taking place when we partake of the elements of Christ’s body and blood.
Since I am seeking to espouse a Wesleyan Way of looking at and understanding things, let me share with you some direct quotes from Wesley that will help set the stage for how he understood Holy Communion.
“I haste to this Sacrament for the same purpose that St. Peter and John hasted to His sepulchre; because I hope to find Him there.”1
It seems that Wesley thought that in the sacrament, he would be encountering the presence of Jesus.
“I come then to God's altar, with a full persuasion that these words, This is My body, promise me more than a figure; that this holy banquet is not a bare memorial only [...] in what manner this is done I know not; it is enough for me to admire.”1
It seems as if Wesley did not see Communion as simply some memorial service in which we think about and remember what Christ did. When he partook of the elements, he expected more than just some fond memory.
“And thus His body and blood have everywhere, but especially at this Sacrament, a true and real presence.”2
The Body and Blood was for Wesley a true and real presence.
So. What is the Sacrament of Holy Communion for a people called Methodist? It is a way for us to encounter the real and true presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. It is an opportunity for us to experience the grace of God in our lives. It is an opportunity for us to grow closer to God.
So. How often should we partake of the elements?
In his sermon “The Duty of Constant Communion”, Wesley teaches that the early church observed communion on a daily basis and suggested that the people called Methodist should observe it as often as was possible. Perhaps his most telling words on constant communion from the sermon are these: “the benefits of doing it are so great to all that do it in obedience to Him; namely, the forgiveness of our past sins and the present strengthening and refreshing of our souls."
Do you want to have your soul refreshed? Then do not turn down an opportunity to engage in Holy Communion. This is an act of piety that brings you closer to God.
1. Poetical Works, III, 194-95.
2. Poetical Works, III, 197
I am just a simple United Methodist pastor. I am an elder in the Holston Annual Conference. This blog is my attempt to share the insights that I have gathered from John Wesley's writings and from others more knowledgable than myself in regards to Wesley. I am not a scholar. Perhaps you could best think of me as a practical theologian.