Here’s a question I’ve never heard anybody else ask, but it seems to me like everybody should be asking it, and there should be common answers out there. So it’s the Lord’s Supper, and while the bread is being passed, you meditate on your sinfulness, repent, pray for forgiveness. Eventually, the minister proclaims “This is the Lord’s body, broken for you; take and eat.” So the body of Christ all together participates in Christ’s body. Hallelujah! Christ’s sacrifice paid for our sins!
And then they start passing the cup…
At this point, what am I supposed to meditate on? To once again embark upon repentance seems to negate the efficacy of Christ’s body broken for us. I guess my question comes down to, what’s the difference between the bread and the wine? Why was this sacrament appointed with two elements? In the Children’s Catechism (Q134,135), we learn that the bread represents Christ’s body broken for our sins, while the wine represents Christ’s blood, shed for our salvation — but aren’t those really the same?
The closest I’ve come to an answer to this dilemma is to think of the bread’s role in the Supper as more about participation in Christ’s visible body (horizontal, ecclesiological), whereas the wine primarily signifies atonement by Christ’s blood (vertical, soteriological). If this is valid, however, it would make more sense to me to have the wine first (Christ washed us with his blood) and then the bread (thereby making the Church Universal into one people). Or maybe that’s too individualistic? After all, I am a paedobaptist, so perhaps the message of bread followed by wine is that the way it ordinarily works in time is that God first calls out a visible People, and in His appointed time the Holy Spirit effectually calls the invisible church, working in them regeneration, faith, repentance, justification, and all the rest.
Of course there is no such dilemma for churches which administer the Lord’s Supper by having people come forward and partake of both elements pretty much at once. Maybe my question boils down to an argument for this (more historical/traditional?) system.
Any other bright ideas?