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Sacraments 2    Holy Communion1

Mass”, “Eucharist”, “Holy Communion”, “Lord’s Table”, “Lord’s supper”, or just “The Sacrament” – what’s the difference?

Easy – there isn’t one. It’s the same thing, but the name you use tends to indicate the tradition you come from. “Mass” is the Roman Catholics’ name. “Holy Communion” is the most typical Church of England name2. “Lord’s Table”,  “Lord’s Supper” and “The Sacrament” tend to be used, with “Communion”, as alternatives by other less “catholic” churches. “Eucharist”, the strangest of the names, has been a middle ground, compromise name, because it just means “thanksgiving”. But as an attempt to get away from the more divisive names, it is an odd word – a bit un-English. People sometimes wonder what on earth it is.

But the truth is that, though people debate [and argue! and row!] about what happens in the service, it is really a very simple meal done “in remembrance” of Jesus. The basic story is there for all to see3.

The outward and visible sign in the sacrament is the taking, blessing breaking and sharing4 of bread and wine. The inward and spiritual grace is the spiritual food the believer receives at the meal.

And the crunch question – is it really “body and blood” which we consume? Well of course it isn’t! We’re not cannibals5 – that isn’t the point. But there’s another answer – “well of course it is!”. And there is the conundrum for you at the altar rail. Christians, in varying ways, have come to the conclusion that this meal is something deep to them – a making real of Jesus in the present just as he was [and yet in a different way from] in the past. Somehow, he’s here.

The question for you is how he is real and present for you in this meal, one of the two key “sacraments”6 of the church.