Anglican Morning Devotion for 2 August 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the vail of the covering, and covered the ark of the testimony; as the LORD commanded Moses. 22And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. 23And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses. 24And he put the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, over against the table, on the side of the tabernacle southward. 25And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Exodus 40:21-25; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Not many years ago, a Baptist minister and friend visited my church at St. Andrews. After looking around a bit, he commented, “I see that you are very much like the Roman Catholics.” When I asked, “Why?” He responded, “Well, you have an altar with a cross and two candles. I responded that we did not have an altar (as the Baptist love to call it) but a Lord’s Table. We do not sacrifice the Lord anew every so-called ‘Mass.’ Secondly, we have a cross above the Lord’s Table much like the cross your church has at the very top of its steeple. And we have a candle on the right (strong side) and left – the right side candle to illustrate the Gospel Light and the left side candle to illustrate the burning light of the Apostles.” Perhaps it was a streak of meanness that urged me to quote from Revelations concerning the churches: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:5) I then responded that we STILL had our candlesticks. SILENCE.
Due to the superstition of ‘transubstantiation’ (the elements of bread and wine are physically changed into the real body and blood of the Lord) we never refer to the Lord’s Table as an altar, and neither does the Book of common Prayer. We do believe in the Real Presence of our Lord at the Communion of His Table, but we believe that presence is a Spiritual Presence more profound that at any other time.
I have seen the Lord’s Table decorated with cut flowers and other decorations, but nothing should be thereon but the elements and the Prayer Book or Bible. If flowers must be displayed, they will be displayed on a separate shelf (Retable) above the Lord’s Table. Moreover, the minister (Prayer Book term for officiant) does not stand behind the Table facing the congregants. That is reserved for the Lord’s Place. The Table is placed against the wall.
This was another step directly in line with the liturgical policies of the continental Reformers, the final product of which is well summarized by a description of the Communion service at Strassburg after 1530 when Bucer’s influence became dominant. “So, mass, priest, and altar are replaced by Lord’s Supper, minister and Holy Table, and the westward replaces the eastward position of the celebrant.”1 (It is worth repeating that Bucer influenced Cranmer, and hence his new liturgy, more than any other continental reformer.) On the same theme, Calvin explains that God “has given us a table at which to feast, not an altar on which to offer sacrifice. He has not consecrated priests, but ministers to distribute the sacred banquet.” 2
A loving family sups together. Love is shared at the dinner hour, reminisces discussed, and instructions given by the Father of the home. We do not ‘take’ at the Lord’s Table, but ‘receive.’ The unleavened bread signifies the sinless body of Chris (for leaven represents sin). The wine represents His blood, and the Cup is truly filled with real, germinated wine since Passover occurs in Spring and there is not refrigeration available from grape harvest in Fall to spring. We are privileged to feel the Presence of the Risen Lord at the Table.
If taken in the spirit of love, humility, and repentance, Holy Communion warms our hearts and makes us keenly aware of the cost of our salvation to a loving Savior just as it did for the two men on the Road to Emmaus: “And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” (Luke 24:30-31)
- FSPB, Introduction, p. vi,
- Institutes; IV, xviii, 12, col. 1059.