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The Lord’s Supper: Katie Wagenmaker on Ch. 9 of Brown’s Called to Serve

22 May, 2008

Katie W.Katie is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a soon-to-be MA (Theological Studies) graduate of Westminster Seminary California. She received her undergraduate degree from Calvin College and is Westminster Seminary California Bookstore’s manager. In the future, Katie would like to be a missionary in Western Europe, but for the time being, she is enjoying the sun and sand of Southern California. She has written a book review for Modern Reformation and, in her free time, is an avid reader of all genres of books (except Science Fiction-she never quite picked up a love of that genre).

Chapter Nine: “Calvin on the Eucharist,” by W. Robert Godfrey

It is so easy for the Reformed Christian, or any Christian for that matter, to get caught up in tradition and fail to see the theology behind practices in a church.

As we will learn in chapter 11 (“What Our Service Should Look Like”) of Mike Brown’s Called to Serve, our church services so often fall into traditionalism–this was my experience growing up in a Dutch Reformed Church. We celebrated the Lord’s Supper four times a year, and as far as I knew, there was no attempt to make it more frequent. Being raised in a Reformed home, I was taught Reformed doctrine from an early age as well, but the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper was never expounded on. I knew it was a Sacrament, but I did not really understand what that meant. I thought it was a time when we ate small pieces of bread and drank a little wine to remember Christ’s death.

In that way, I grew up a Zwinglian, and I fear many Reformed Christians hold to this belief without knowing it. In this chapter by W. Robert Godfrey, he dispels that belief and explains what the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper means for the Calvinist.

Godfrey begins by explaining the meaning of the Supper: a visible Word teaching us that salvation comes only through Christ. Our faith is strengthened because of this union with the risen Christ, made possible through the Holy Spirit. It is not something we do for God, but it is something God does for us and has promised to do for us through this Sacrament.

He then goes on to state the importance of the Supper, giving a brief history of the Genevan church’s frequency of administration, as well as Calvin’s view. Along with the importance of the Supper comes “God’s help and media” (or means). As Godfrey says, “There is nothing more necessary at every point in our Christian life than to go back to this: our redemption is in the body and blood of Christ.” He poses an intriguing proposition in this chapter: If the Gospel were to be preached from the pulpit and if the means of grace were to be properly administered, (including a full view of the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper and our communion with the risen Lord), believers would be “forced back to the central things of the gospel.” No longer would we crave for a spiritual “experience” or emphasize our part in worship, but the promises of God to His children would free us to rejoice fully in His grace.

I appreciate this chapter by Godfrey because he clears up many misconceptions about the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. By bringing in Calvin’s view of the Supper, the reader is given a fuller and deeper understanding of the power of this sacrament.

~KW

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3 Comments
  1. 22 May, 2008 10:14 am

    Katie, like Calvin long ago, I so wish I could be fed the Lord’s supper on a weekly basis. Does Christ URC in Santee have communion every Lord’s day? I know other URC’s like Oceanside do.

  2. 26 May, 2008 1:20 pm

    Phil,

    Yeah Christ URC in Santee has weekly communion.

    I too love being feed every week.

    coleman

  3. 26 May, 2008 6:09 pm

    sigh. such a good thing.

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