The Lord’s Supper, as called Holy Communion or the Eucharist (Thanksgiving; ‘gave thanks’ – Matthew 26:26-), is considered a sacrament (religious ceremony or ritual that is ‘sacred’ and divine) in most churches and an ordinance (an order or decree issued by the church – a religious rite written and declared by the church) in others.
The Catholic Church (sometime since the Fourth Council of Lateran in 1215 and the Council of Trent 1551) believes that the ‘Eucharist’ can only be given by a priest and when the actual ‘bread and wine’ is ‘consecrated (blessed and prayed over by the priest), then the ‘elements’ divinely transform (‘transubstantiation’) and become the actual ‘body/flesh and blood’ of Christ – given for the forgiveness of sins. This is argued against by nearly all Protestants and Orthodox.
The Lutheran Church also teaches a priest/ordained minister in their church must consecrate the elements. And that the elements become a form of Christ’s presence. Some use the term consubstantiation – ‘with’ or in some way transform. Orthodox and Protestant typically see the elements of Communion/Thanksgiving as symbolizing the presence and works of Christ Jesus.
When available, all of the teachings and practices are from the website of the organization itself. Many denominations will have an official Statement of Fundamental belief and others will have a more fluid offering of their beliefs.
Thirty Nine Articles of Religion: 25. Of the Sacraments:
“Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him. There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.”
28. Of the Lord’s Supper:
“The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ. Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith. The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.”
Assemblies of God
Statement of Fundamental Truths (16) 6. The Ordinances of the Church
The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements –bread and the fruit of the vine– is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4 [KJV/NIV]), a memorial of his suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26 [KJV/NIV]), and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26 [KJV/NIV]), and is enjoined on all believers “till He come!”
Pentecostal Evangel (July 26, 2007):
““The Lord’s Supper is a unique event in the life of the church. For us in the evangelical part of Christendom, it is one of only two ritualistic events, the other being water baptism. Although there are reasons for people to be baptized more than once, and there is no biblical prohibition against it, if everything goes according to God’s plan, a person gets saved, then baptized, and doesn’t repeat either event. The Lord’s Supper, however, is envisioned as a repeated event.
Paul records these words for us in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (NKJV).
Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” and “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Paul then goes on to say, “as often as you eat … and drink.”
The clear implication is that the Lord’s Supper is a repeated event. It is to be done at many points in our lives… The Lord’s Supper is both a remembrance and a proclamation. The former is mostly internal, the latter mostly external. We are reminding ourselves while we are reminding other believers…”
(Southern Baptist Convention) Basic Beliefs: “The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members … memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.”
Southwestern Journal of Theology (Vol. 57; No.2; Spring 2015):
‘Early English Baptists’ View of the Lord’s Supper’
“…From the beginnings of Baptist history Baptist congregations have been independent… The tradition of the General Baptists begins with John Smyth and Company in Amsterdam in 1609. This previously-Separatist congregation …had journeyed to Holland for religious liberty, but along the way journeyed into a Baptist theology…
Smyth’s congregation… applying for membership with the Waterlanders… agreed to a work composed by Hans de Ries, A Short Confession of Faith (1580), which was signed by Smyth and 43 others in 1610…
Confession: 28. There are two sacraments appointed by Christ, in His holy church… the Holy Baptism and the Holy Supper. These are outward visible handlings and tokens, setting before our eyes, on God’s side, the inward spiritual handling which God, through Christ, by the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, sets forth the justification in the penitent faithful soul; and which, on our behalf, witnesseth our religion, experience, faith, and obedience, through the obtaining of a good conscience to the service of God.
31. The Holy Supper, according to the institution of Christ, is to be administered to the baptized… 32. The whole dealing in the outward visible… signifyeth, that Christ’s body was broken upon the Cross and His holy blood spilt for the remission of our sins…”
“…In 1611, the Helwys congregation …wrote A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam… 15. That the LORDs Supper is the outward manifestation of the Spiritual communion between CHRIST and the faithful mutually…’
“Helwys would lead his congregation back to London to establish the first Baptist churches on English soil and be the General Baptist tradition. By the 1640s quite a few General Baptist churches were in London and from these churches many defenses of beliefs were printed… ‘
‘In 1651 the first General Baptist confession of more than one church was written at an associational meeting in the Midlands… The confession is entitled Thirty Congregations, and on the Lord’s Supper it states, 53. That Jesus Christ took Bread, and the juice of the Vine, and brake, and gave to His Disciples, to eat and drink with thanksgiving; which practice is left upon record as a memorial of His suffering, to continue in the Church until He returns…’ 1660, A Brief Confession or Declaration of Faith, better known as The Standard Confession.“
Note: “Do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life…” Deut. 12:23, Lev. 19:26, Gen. 9:4, Acts 15:29; “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ (on the Cross) once for all (Heb. 10:10).”
According to Catholic.com (2017; ‘Who Can Receive Communion?’):
“The Holy Eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments because, in this and in no other sacrament, we receive the very body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Innumerable, precious graces come to us through the reception of Holy Communion.
Communion is an intimate encounter with Christ, in which we sacramentally receive Christ into our bodies, that we may be more completely assimilated into his. “The Eucharist builds the Church,” as Pope John Paul II said (Redemptor Hominis 20). It deepens unity with the Church, more fully assimilating us into Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; CCC 1396). “
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (usccb.org)
“…Recalling these words of Jesus, the Catholic Church professes that, in the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest. Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. . . . For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:51-55). The whole Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine—the glorified Christ who rose from the dead after dying for our sins. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Eucharist. This presence of Christ in the Eucharist is called “real” not to exclude other types of his presence as if they could not be understood as real (cf. Catechism, no. 1374). The risen Christ is present to his Church in many ways, but most especially through the sacrament of his Body and Blood.
What does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist under the appearances of bread and wine? How does this happen? The presence of the risen Christ in the Eucharist is an inexhaustible mystery that the Church can never fully explain in words. We must remember that the triune God is the creator of all that exists and has the power to do more than we can possibly imagine. As St. Ambrose said: “If the word of the Lord Jesus is so powerful as to bring into existence things which were not, then a fortiori those things which already exist can be changed into something else” ( De Sacramentis, IV, 5-16).
Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Part Two; Sec. 2: The Seven Sacraments of the Church
Chapter One… Art. 3, The Sacrament of the Eucharist:
1322: The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.
1324: The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”136 “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.
1328: Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God. The Greek words eucharistein and eulogein recall the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God’s works: creation, redemption, and sanctification.”
1330: “The memorial of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church’s offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, “sacrifice of praise,” spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant.
1343: “It was above all on “the first day of the week,” Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection, that the Christians met “to break bread.”169 From that time on down to our own day the celebration of the Eucharist has been continued so that today we encounter it everywhere in the Church with the same fundamental structure. It remains the center of the Church’s life.
1345: “As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:
On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: ‘Amen.’
When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the “eucharisted” bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent…”
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod; and Martin Luther’s Large Catechism
According to the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, ‘Doctrinal Issues – The Lord’s Supper/Holy Communion:’
“…Jesus Christ is now risen and ascended and sits at the right hand of God the Father. He is the same Christ, and when He gave us the Sacrament, as the Lutheran Confessions affirm, ‘He was speaking of His true, essential body, which He gave into death for us, and of His true, essential blood, which was poured out … on the cross for the forgiveness of sins (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VII, 49).’ In the Sacrament, our Confessions further teach, the same Jesus who died is present in the Sacrament, although not in exactly the same way that He was corporeally present when He walked bodily on earth. With Luther, the Formula of Concord speaks of ‘the incomprehensible, spiritual mode of presence according to which He neither occupies nor yields space but passes through everything created as He wills… He employed this mode of presence when He left the closed grave and came through closed doors, in the bread and wine in the Supper…”
“…The official position of the Synod is that not only are members of other Lutheran churches with whom we are in altar and pulpit fellowship invited to commune with us, but also that in certain extraordinary cases of pastoral care and in emergencies members of churches not in fellowship with us may be given Communion… “
“…Q: What verses in Scripture can be cited that teach “that BOTH bread and wine AND Christ’s true body and blood are present in the Lord’s Supper? A: All three accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23) explicitly state that Jesus took BREAD, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take, eat; this [i.e., this BREAD, which I have just blessed and broken and am now giving to you] is my body.” Jesus uses similar language in referring to “the cup” (of wine) as “his blood.” A plain and straightforward reading of these words leads to the conclusion that BOTH bread AND body, BOTH wine AND blood are present in the consecrated elements of the Lord’s Supper. Perhaps the most explicit expression of this truth, however, is found in 1 Cor. 10:16-17, where Paul writes: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” Paul clearly says here that we all “partake” of “BREAD” when we receive the Lord’s Supper–even as we also partake of and “participate in” the true body of Christ. And he says that we all “partake” of the wine (the cup), even as we also partake of the true blood of Christ. Similarly, in 1 Cor. 11:26, Paul says: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Paul expressly states here that when we receive the Lord’s Supper we are “eating bread” and “drinking the cup” (wine), but he goes on to say that those who eat this bread and drink this cup are also partaking of the true body and blood of Christ. So “real” is this participation in Christ’s body and blood, in fact, that (according to Paul) those who partake of the bread and wine “in an unworthy manner” are actually guilty of “profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27). (Partaking of the Lord’s Supper “in a worthy manner,” of course, is not something that we “do” or “accomplish” on the basis of our “personal holiness” or “good works.” It means receiving God’s free and gracious gifts of life and forgiveness offered in the Lord’s Supper in true repentance produced by the work of the Spirit through God’s Law and in true faith in Christ and his promises produced by God’s Spirit through the Gospel). ”
From umc.org; according to the United Methodist Church, ‘FAQs: Communion:’
“…Each local United Methodist church determines how often to serve communion. Many churches celebrate communion once a month, often on the first Sunday. Communion is also celebrated on special days of the year, such as Christmas and Easter. There has gradually been a move toward more frequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Some United Methodist churches now celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week… “
“…the official statement on communion, says, “The Christian church has struggled through the centuries to understand just how Christ is present in the Eucharist. Arguments and divisions have occurred over the matter. The Wesleyan tradition affirms the reality of Christ’s presence, although it does not claim to be able to explain it fully.”
This Holy Mystery later continues, “United Methodists, along with other Christian traditions, have tried to provide clear and faithful interpretations of Christ’s presence in the Holy Meal. Our tradition asserts the real, personal, living presence of Jesus Christ. For United Methodists, the Lord’s Supper is anchored in the life of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, but is not primarily a remembrance or memorial. We do not embrace the medieval doctrine of transubstantiation, though we do believe that the elements are essential tangible means through which God works. We understand the divine presence in temporal and relational terms. In the Holy Meal of the church, the past, present, and future of the living Christ come together by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we may receive and embody Jesus Christ as God’s saving gift for the whole world.”
According to OCA.org, Orthodox Church in America, “…The Holy Eucharist is called the “sacrament of sacraments” in the Orthodox tradition. It is also called the “sacrament of the Church.” The Eucharist is the center of the Church’s life. Everything in the Church leads to the eucharist, and all things flow from it. It is the completion of all of the Church’s sacraments—the source and the goal of all of the Church’s doctrines and institutions.
As with baptism, it must be noted that the eucharistic meal was not invented by Christ. Such holy ritual meals existed in the Old Testament and in pagan religions. Generally speaking the “dinner” remains even today as one of the main ritual and symbolic events in the life of man.
The Christian eucharist is a meal specifically connected with the Passover meal of the Old Testament. At the end of his life Christ, the Jewish Messiah, ate the Passover meal with his disciples. Originally a ritual supper in commemoration of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the Passover meal was transformed by Christ into an act done in remembrance of him: of His life, death and resurrection as the new and eternal Passover Lamb who frees men from the slavery of evil, ignorance and death and transfers them into the everlasting life of the Kingdom of God.
As a word, the term eucharist means thanksgiving. This name is given to the sacred meal-not only to the elements of bread and wine, but to the whole act of gathering, praying, reading the Holy Scriptures and proclaiming God’s Word, remembering Christ and eating and drinking his Body and Blood in communion with him and with God the Father, by the Holy Spirit. The word eucharist is used because the all-embracing meaning of the Lord’s Banquet is that of thanksgiving to God in Christ and the Holy Spirit for all that he has done in making, saving and glorifying the world.
The sacrament of the eucharist is also called holy communion since it is the mystical communion of men with God, with each other, and with all men and all things in him through Christ and the Spirit. The eucharistic liturgy is celebrated in the Church every Sunday, the Day of the Lord, as well as on feast days.“
Symbolic and the practice of when offered will vary with the church.
According to the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, “John Calvin favored weekly communion, many churches in the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition are just starting to renew Lord’s Supper practices. A feature story exploring Lord’s Supper practices in the Reformed and Presbyterian Traditions. And a fair number of people in the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition know John Calvin passionately advocated for believers to receive weekly communion. He made it a condition before agreeing to leave Strasbourg and return to Geneva. Yet almost everyone knows that, despite Calvin, most Reformed or Presbyterian churches do not offer a weekly Eucharist…”
‘The Sacrament of Communion:’
“…Communion is also called the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist (from the Greek word for “grateful” or “thanksgiving”). It is a time to renew faith and strengthen participants for the duties and privileges of Christian service. In communion, the bread and wine represent the sacrificial body and blood of Christ and recall the last meal shared with the apostles. Together they symbolize the new covenant between God and all people. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the elements enable us to give thanks, remember, and anticipate God’s redemptive work on our behalf.”
JW.org ‘Why do Jehovah Witnesses Observe the Lord’s Supper Differently From the Way Other Religions Do?’:
“The purpose of the Lord’s Evening Meal is to remember Jesus, showing our gratitude for his sacrifice in our behalf. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Corinthians 11:24) The observance is not a sacrament, or a religious practice that imparts merit such as grace or the forgiveness of sins. * The Bible teaches that our sins can be forgiven, not by a religious rite, but only through faith in Jesus… The unleavened bread and red wine served at the Memorial are emblems, or symbols, of Christ’s flesh and blood. They are not miraculously changed into or mixed with his literal flesh and blood, as some feel… When Jehovah’s Witnesses observe the Lord’s Evening Meal, only a small fraction of us partake of the bread and wine. Why is that so?
Jesus’ shed blood established “a new covenant” that replaced the covenant between Jehovah God and the ancient nation of Israel. (Hebrews 8:10-13) Those who are in that new covenant partake of the Memorial emblems. It includes, not all Christians, but only “those who have been called” in a special way by God. (Hebrews 9:15; Luke 22:20) These ones will rule in heaven with Christ, and the Bible says that just 144,000 people receive that privilege.—Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 3.
In contrast to the “little flock” of those called to rule with Christ, the vast majority of us hope to be part of “a great crowd” who will gain everlasting life on earth. (Luke 12:32; Revelation 7:9, 10) While those of us with an earthly hope do not partake of the Memorial emblems, we do join in expressing thanks for the sacrifice that Jesus made in our behalf…”
LDS.org “The centerpiece of the service is “the sacrament,” the LDS preferred name for their weekly observance of what Christians variously call the Eucharist, Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. In fact, the weekly service is called a sacrament meeting (D&C 46:4-5). In some important respects, Mormons view the sacrament much the same way that most evangelical Protestants do. The elements represent Christ’s body or flesh and his blood (D&C 27:2). The essential function of the sacrament is a regular reminder or remembrance of Christ’s sacrificial death. (Despite the LDS use of the term sacrament, Mormons do not have what is traditionally called a “sacramental” view of the Lord’s Supper, in which the bread and wine are thought to be in some way Christ’s literal body and blood. Rather, they view it as a symbolic memorial or reminder of Christ’s suffering and death.) Members of the congregation are expected to prepare themselves before partaking by examining themselves and repenting of their sins, reflecting reverently and gratefully on Christ’s atonement.
While acknowledging these substantial similarities between traditional Christian and LDS views of the Lord’s Supper, we should also recognize some important differences. We will highlight two such differences here:
1. Mormons claim that only they have the priesthood authority necessary to administer the sacrament validly.
2. Mormons use water as an element of the sacrament on the grounds that Christ supposedly revealed that they should not use wine.”
Seventh – day Adventist
“The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot-washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians.”