Happy Moltmann Monday! Today I’m posting some of Moltmann’s thoughts on communion, per request from the PostBarthian. There’s so much here, so I’ll follow up next week with more. For now, I’m starting at the beginning of a long section on the Lord’s Supper in Church in the Power of the Spirit, primarily grabbing from the first two sections:
Just as baptism is the eschatological sign of starting out, valid once and for all, so the regular and constant fellowship at the table of the Lord is the eschatological sign of being on the way. If baptism is called the unique sign of grace, then the Lord’s supper must be understood as the repeatable sign of hope…Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the signs of the church’s life, because they are the signs of the one who is their life.
Ok- let me stop there first, because there is a plethora of good stuff in those sentences. And because a good number of churches remembered the baptism of Jesus yesterday in the lectionary, mine included. What do these two sacraments mean? What do they have to do with one another? How do they differ? Moltmann gives such lovely categorization. Baptism is a sign of something new, an adventure of faith that is just beginning. The Lord’s Supper is a signpost along the way. Baptism is a backpack and the Lord’s Supper is sandwiches and power bars and water that keep you going. Baptism is the starting line, the Lord’s Supper is the mile marker. To put more theological language around it, baptism is grace. It is being awash in the love of God and responding to the wonder of being God’s beloved. Our pastor Kayla put it so well last night- baptism is God’s way of saying that God is with us, and that God finds happiness in us. What grace. The Lord’s Supper, then, is a sign of hope. It is repeatable, and must be repeated often, so that the fires of our hope grow bright and keep us walking on the way.
Now, onto the next section:
The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper is the theological theory behind a particular practice. But the Lord’s supper is not the practice of a theological theory. Communion with Christ in his supper is obeying Christ’s own invitation, not a christological dogma. For it is the Lord’s supper, not the other way round…If a church were to limit the openness of his invitation of its own accord, it would be turning the Lord’s supper into the church’s supper and putting its own fellowship at the center, not fellowship with him…The theological doctrine of the Lord’s supper must consequently not be allowed to exercise any controversial theological function through which Christians are separated from Christians…Just as the Lord’s supper is a sign of fellowship and not of division, so the corresponding theology will have to present what is in common and not what divides.
YES. And not only is the Table an open invitation, but who can serve it? Moltmann says:
Everyone whom (Jesus) calls and who follows his call has the authority to break the bread and dispense the wine.
The Table is a sign of hope, a sign of fellowship and not division. That should shine through in how we practice it, right?
More next week!