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text and table together – reuben munn


I want to pick up on a comment made by Roger Driver-Burgess in response to John Tucker’s blog post, Highways to Christ. In his comment, Roger mentioned that Christocentric preaching has been made easier in his church by the weekly observance of communion, usually after the sermon. In his words, “Every week I need to find my way from the text to the table, and there is always a way.” I thought that was really well put, a thought-provoking statement which got me thinking about other connections between the text and the table, between preaching and communion. Whether your church takes communion each week (as ours does) or less regularly, it is worth considering whether we can strengthen the relationship between text and table in our gathered worship so that Word and sacrament are more fully integrated in the life of the church.

If the heart of our preaching is the Gospel of grace, then preaching should connect naturally with communion itself. Communion is where we invite people to encounter Christ in the bread and wine and claim their belovedness in him. Rather than simply being a purely symbolic remembrance of Jesus’ death in the past, communion can become a dynamic and living means of grace in the present by which Christ meets us at the table, just as we have met him in the pages of his Word through the sermon. Communion can be a moment when it all comes together—the sermon, the congregation, the preacher, the text of Scripture, all at the foot of the cross. Although our preaching should always be Christocentric, communion can truly bathe our sermon in the death of Jesus, and seal on the hearts of our congregation what has been preached, or perhaps prepare them for what is about to be preached. Communion is a time and space for people to more fully receive the gift that God is giving them through our preaching—the assurance that in Christ they are loved and blessed even though they are broken, and that they are sent out to be given to others as a living sacrament, poured out for the sake of others. Isn’t that what our preaching is all about?

So I’m trying to create more time and space for communion in our services, often as a response to what has been preached. One practical shift this is bringing about is that the conclusion of my sermons is often less about wrapping up the sermon, and more about opening up new space for people to reflect on what God is saying to them through his Word. Communion then provides the perfect contemplative space for this, not simply as a time to meditate, but as a way of the congregation hearing God confirm his word to them, in view of what they have heard through Scripture and especially in view of the cross (which hopefully are connected!). My sermon conclusion is therefore not just looking back over the message, but looking forward to what God is about to do when we meet him in Christ at the table.

Are there other connections between text and table that could be explored?

One Comment

  1. Dale says:

    You’ve read my mind and blessed my heart Reuben 🙂 There is good heritage, as well, for Baptists doing communion weekly, as ole Spurgeon did so! I’ve yet to find a reason not to do weekly communion that wouldn’t equally apply to any other weekly corporate worship practice!

    Just a further thought. We can link text (‘audible word’) with table (‘visible word’) by giving attention to where in our worship spaces the pulpit and table are. Our table used to be on the floor to the side w/ the drums amplifiers and guitar stands and cables and power boxes, etc. being on stage with the pulpit. Last year, we moved all that off stage (leaving piano and stuff for singers/leader), and put the communion table up on stage to accompany the pulpit. Funny enough, our pulpit and table were made by the same person with exact same materials and design elements. Almost like they were made for one another? 😉

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