See what Dr. Howell wrote on the Sacraments in his eWorship series.
The sacraments, according to Saint Augustine, are visible signs of an invisible reality. Through the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) God is active in a unique and peculiar way, getting through to us by such ordinary means as bread, water, and wine.
The Lord’s Supper (sometimes referred to as Communion or The Eucharist, meaning ‘Thanksgiving’) is Christ’s gift to the church. On the evening before his death, the gospels teach us, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” He then took the cup, gave thanks over it, and said, “Drink this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many of the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Through this act Jesus gave his disciples the means through which his followers would identify themselves, recalling his death and resurrection, and experiencing his grace anew.
John Wesley, though, the founder of Methodism, understood the Lord’s Supper to be more than an occasion by which we simply recollect the passion and death of Jesus. The bread and wine of the sacrament instead conveys, through the Holy Spirit, his real presence. Under the guise of bread and wine Christ is truly with us, in a mysterious but no less real and actual way, uniting us in fellowship, strengthening us in holiness, and empowering us for service in the world.
Before the altar we, as did the disciples, sit at table with Jesus, becoming his guests, recalling his sacrifice for the world’s salvation, as we anticipate the day when God’s kingdom shall come in full.
“This is the food for our souls,” preached Wesley. “If we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord’s Supper.”