I have had a long appreciation for the United Methodist understanding of the sacraments. (If you want a full theological understanding of the sacraments read “By Water and the Spirit” and “This Holy Mystery” which explains the theology of the two sacraments recognized by United Methodists, Baptism and Holy Communion. )
In a United Methodist understanding Holy Communion and Baptism are “means of grace” meaning that we experience God’s grace as we participate in the sacraments. Some evangelical Christians tend to think of Holy Communion and Baptism as “just symbols” and Communion as “just a memorial.” I’ve come to believe over the years that this is a very one dimensional view of what God does for us in the sacraments.
Over the many years I have officiated at the Lord’s Table I have had powerful experiences of God’s love and grace in sharing and partaking of bread and cup. “This Holy Mystery” tells us that Christ is truly present in Communion. It is more than mere remembrance!
I have always appreciated the United Methodist understanding of the openness of the table. When I first partook of communion with my family in an Emmaus Gathering all the children present, no matter what age, were welcome at the table. In fact the table is open to anyone who is seeking to have an experience of God’s love. John Wesley believed that Holy Communion could be a “converting element” leading to the conversion of a sinner who comes to the table through the power of God’s prevenient and justifying grace.
My own personal preference is to take communion via intinction (dipping bread in a common cup) rather than with small cups and wafers because it reminds me of the oneness of Christ and the oneness of the body of Christ partaking of one loaf and one cup. The Sacraments are a very important part of Christian and United Methodist worship. And I appreciate the emphasis on God’s grace that weaves its way into so many facets of United Methodist theology, worship, and experience.
As I have grown in the faith God’s loving grace calling me to be more like Jesus each day has become a very important part of my spiritual journey. Meeting Christ at the table and experiencing His presence there gives me strength, hope, joy, and a sense of communion with my Savior and His church!