The world drinks to forget, the Christian drinks to remember. There was this tea-totaling mother who was very vocal from time to time about her theory that only grape juice — not wine — was served at the Last Supper. During one of these discussions her daughter said: “But mother, don’t you remember at Cana Jesus turned the water into wine?” The mother, eyes blazing, said, “Yes! And He NEVER should have done it either!”
When Paul writes to the Church at Corinth, Paul reminds them of the importance of the Lord’s Supper. For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Transubstantiation is the view held by the Roman Catholic church. The Council of Trent teaches that after the consecration the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, are contained “truly, really, and substantially in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist.” Consubstantiation in the Lutheran church insist that the body and blood of Christ are mysteriously and supernaturally united with the bread and wine, so that they are received. Symbolic is partaking of the supper and merely commemorates the sacrificial work of Christ, and its value to the participant consists only in the bestowal of a blessing
We do not take the Lord’s Supper because we are righteous and good, we take the Lord’s Supper because we are sinful. “Philip Haille wrote of the little village of Le Chambon in France, a town whose people, unlike others in France, hid their Jews from the Nazis. Haille went there, wondering what sort of courageous, ethical heroes could risk all to do such extraordinary good. He interviewed people in the village and was overwhelmed by their ‘ordinariness’. They weren’t heroes or smart, discerning people. Haille decided the one factor that united them was their attendance, Sunday after Sunday, at their little church, where they heard the sermons of Pastor Trochme. Over time, they became by habit people who just knew what to do and did it. When it came time for them to be courageous, the day the Nazis came to town, they quietly did what was right. One old woman, who faked a heart attack when the Nazis came to search her house, later said, ‘Pastor always taught us that there comes a time in every life when a person is asked to do something for Jesus. When our time came, we knew what to do.'” The habits of the heart are there when they are most needed.
I heard a story recently, supposedly true, about the new pastor at the church. After the first worship service, the pastor heard rumblings that he had not done “communion” the right way. Puzzled at this, he studied his worship books, but came away with the conviction that he had used the proper order. He next asked an officer of the church. The officer told him, “Yes”, he had done it the “wrong way”. “What am I doing wrong?” he asked. “Well,” replied the man, “the previous pastor (who had been at this church for many years) always touched the radiator before serving the cup. You don’t touch the radiator.” Only half enlightened, the pastor called his predecessor, who said, “Yes, I touched the radiator before serving the cup. I did it to get rid of static electricity. The members were complaining of sparks on their lips.” In the breaking of bread and the drinking of this cup we touch God.