I personally prefer to call the ordinance the “Lord’s Supper” (1 Cor 11:20) or the “Lord’s Table” (1 Cor 10:21), and this is the way that our fathers in the faith would normally call it (see WCF 29; WLC 168–177; WSC 93, 96–97; the Continental Confessions have it as the “Holy Supper” [see Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 75–77; Belgic Confession, art. 35]). However, I do not have very strong objections to calling it the “Holy Communion.” I consciously avoid using the term “Holy Communion” because it is most commonly so called in Romanism and Anglicanism. Nevertheless, we should realise that the term “Holy Communion,” together with the term “Eucharist,” were very commonly used from very early times of the New Testament Church to describe the Lord’s Table (though the Puritans and Reformers tended to use it to describe the communion that believers enjoy with God on account of their union with Christ, see, for examples, ICR 4.1.15, and Matthew Henry’s commentaries on Ezekiel 36:16–24, Matthew 16:13–20, and Acts 2:42–47).
It is, I think, not wrong to speak of the Lord’s Supper as the Holy Communion (much as some of us may be uncomfortable to use the term because of its associative connotations). In fact, there is some biblical basis for the use of the term, for the Apostle Paul calls the Supper, the “communion of the blood of Christ” and the “communion of the body of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16). The adjective “holy” should not cause any difficulty for us since it is a holy ordinance of the Lord.
This is why most Reformed churches would have no qualms about calling a worship service in which the Lord’s Supper is observed a “communion service.” Using the term “communion,” moreover, is often advantageous in that it emphasises the participation or communion that believers have with Christ and with one another during the Supper, which is signified and sealed with the Supper. This aspect of the Supper is often forgotten by those who considers the term “Holy Communion” to be Romish and would frown upon its use. But the communion aspect of the Supper is an important element which the Apostle Paul emphasises. For example, he refers to the oneness of the congregation manifested at the Lord’s Supper: “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor 10:17), he says. Then, he also refers to the Lord’s chastisement upon the congregation in which individuals might have partaken of the Supper unworthily (1 Cor 11:28–34). All things being equal, calling the Lord’s Supper a “Holy Communion” may, in some ways, reminds us of our unity with Christ and with one another.
Be as that may be, whatever we may call the Supper, we would do well to always remind ourselves of our duty towards other members of the church whenever we meet to remember the Lord’s Death on behalf of the Church. Calvin has well said:
We shall have profited admirably in the sacrament, if the thought shall have been impressed and engraven on our minds, that none of our brethren is hurt, despised, rejected, injured, or in any way offended, without our, at the same time, hurting, despising, and injuring Christ; that we cannot have dissension with our brethren, without at the same time dissenting from Christ; that we cannot love Christ without loving our brethren; that the same care we take of our own body we ought to take of that of our brethren, who are members of our body; that as no part of our body suffers pain without extending to the other parts, so every evil which our brother suffers ought to excite our compassion. Wherefore Augustine not inappropriately often terms this sacrament the bond of charity. What stronger stimulus could be employed to excite mutual charity, than when Christ, presenting himself to us, not only invites us by his example to give and devote ourselves mutually to each other, but inasmuch as he makes himself common to all, also makes us all to be one in him (ICR 4.17.38).
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