As you know, this table has been a topic of intense debate. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches tend to believe that something magical happens to the bread and wine in such a way as to justify bowing down to the bread and wine and praying to it because Jesus is believed to be bodily present locally in the elements themselves here on the table. On the other end of the spectrum, you have some who don’t think anything significant is happening, and this is just a memory game, an elaborate post-it note.
But with the Protestant Reformers, we believe that the Bible points to another way. We believe that Jesus really is present here with us, and He is here with us in a unique way through this bread and wine. But this is and remains ordinary bread and wine. In fact, the really powerful thing is not happening here on the table. It’s actually happening out there, in you as you pass the bread and wine to one another and remind one another of the gospel of grace. As you pass the elements and remind one another that Jesus’ body was broken, that His blood was shed for our sins, you are assuring one another of forgiveness. You are assuring one another that you are accepted, that you have been received, that you are part of the family of God. And as you do that, you are being built together as a dwelling place for God through the Spirit.
So smile as you eat this meal. You are being transformed by the Spirit. Smile at one another, you are not strangers or foreigners. You are fellow citizens, you are the saints of God. There is something powerful happening in this meal, but it’s not happening up here. It’s happening out there, in you, as you look one another in the eye and proclaim the gospel of grace and receive it with thankful hearts because it seems too good to be true.