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Fireside chat, series one, Our Wesleyan Way: The Lord’s Supper as a means of grace

By: Rev. Kris Mutzenberger, Northeast District Superintendent, Rev. Jennifer McDonald, St. Paul's UMC, and Rev. Dayne Zachrison, elder, Dakotas UMC

United Methodists regard Holy Communion as a sacrament. That is, it’s an act of worship ordained by Christ and is a means of grace. This does not mean that we become any more worthy of God’s grace by taking part in Communion. Rather, we open ourselves to the divine love that’s already there; we become more ready to receive that love and to respond to it.

Here is some background on The Lord’s Supper as a means of grace.  

  • Many of us learn about The Lord’s Supper in Confirmation and it is the first time we receive communion in community with others. here However, there are no conditions for age, church membership or completion of a class required.
  • The Lord's Supper, Holy Communion and the Eucharist are all names for this sacrament celebrated by United Methodists.
  • Holy Communion invites us to focus on the self-giving of the Holy God which makes the sacrament an occasion of grace.

In this episode, we talk about The Lord’s Supper as a means of grace. Joining Rev. Kris Mutzenberger, the Northeast District Superintendent for the conversation are Rev. Jennifer McDonald from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Jamestown, North Dakota, and Rev. Dayne Zachrison a Dakotas Conference elder who lives in Fargo, North Dakota.

Scripture references:

"After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 
‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:19-20, CEB

Key questions:

  1. Do you remember when you first experienced the true meaning of the Lord’s supper and what that was like for you?
  2. How do you practice communion on Sundays and at other times?
  3. What do you hear in Luke 22:19-20 or in other scriptures, about Holy Communion?
  4. When we receive communion, we open ourselves up to the love of God. Ho can we receive that love and live out the Lord’s Supper in our lives?

Resources on prayer as means of grace:

The Meaning of Holy Communion: Understand the key elements of the theology and practice of Holy Communion in The United Methodist Church as contained in our official teaching document, This Holy Mystery, the official ritual of our Church, and Living into the Mystery: A United Methodist Guide for Celebrating Holy Communion.

An open table: How United Methodists understand communion:The Lord's Supper, Holy Communion and the Eucharist are all names for this sacrament celebrated by United Methodists. Each of these names highlights an aspect of this act of worship. The sacrament of Holy Communion is such a common occurrence in the landscape of our worship that its uncommon richness sometimes gets lost.

The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: Henry H. Knight, III writes how
Wesley saw the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace. He describes “means of grace” as outward signs, words, or actions ordained of God, and appointed for this end–to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men and women preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace.

Means of Grace: Fasting and Holy Communion: A
webinar exploring Holy Communion, fasting and feeding the hungry. "When you come to the table," says the Rev. Rini Hernandez, "you need to die to yourself and be resurrected through God's grace to a new life."

Communion—Chuck Knows Church: Everything you wanted to know about communion but were afraid to ask. In this video, Chuck, who knows explains it.

The Bread and the Cup—Chuck Knows Church: The pastor raised up the bread and a cup or chalice at communion. How did we come to use these elements during communion or this sacrament. Learn all about in this video by Chuck Knows Church.

Resources on the means of grace:

The Means of Grace: Ministry Matters responds to the questions—what are the “means of grace”? What does that phrase mean? United Methodists and other Methodists worldwide trace the phrase “means of grace” back to John Wesley. 

The Wesleyan Means of Grace: United Methodist Communications writes John Wesley taught that God's grace is unearned. As we look at the means of grace today, they can be divided into works of piety and the works of mercy.

Skits Guys–Grace: In this conversation between Jesus and Peter, grace is illustrated when Jesus forgives the unforgivable. A video by Skit Guys.

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