COMMUNION

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The Lord's Supper: who should partake?

Methodists have historically identified baptism and the Lord's Supper as  the two ordinances given by the Lord to symbolize the believer's union  with Christ. Baptism commemorates our identification with Christ -- a  visual reminder of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus; the  death of the old nature through the reception of God's saving grace  through Jesus Christ; and the promise of our future hope when our mortal  bodies will be raised incorruptibly for eternity. 

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Greenville practices an open table

 The Lord's Supper reminds us of the means by which God's salvation was  secured on our behalf. The unleavened bread is a symbol of the  perfection of the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ in His body, soul and  spirit. The fruit of the vine symbolizes the substitutionary,  propitiatory and covenantal blood of an innocent sacrifice, shed for the  remission of the sins of the guilty (see Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews  2:5-17; 7:27-28; 9:26-28; 1 Peter 3:18). 

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All are welcome to participate in Communion

 The Lord's Supper, also called  communion, demonstrates the doctrine of substitution -- Christ died for  me (1 Corinthians 11:26). Baptism demonstrates the doctrine of  identification -- I died with Christ (Romans 6:3-4).When  Jesus identified the bread and the fruit of the vine as His body and His  blood, He spoke typologically. The bread did not become His body; the  fruit of the vine did not become His blood. Rather, they represented the  fullness of His sacrifice for those He came to redeem. How do we know?First,  the Lord's Supper has its origins in the Jewish Passover, a memorial  event designed as a perennial reminder to the Jews of God's deliverance  from bondage in Egypt. Jesus' command to receive the Lord's Supper "in  remembrance of Me" establishes it as a memorial meal after the likeness  of the Passover "type."Second, the specificity of Jesus'  language points to a symbolical understanding of the Lord's Supper. It  is hard to imagine the disciples thinking that Jesus, while physically  sitting in their presence, literally entered the bread and the fruit of  the vine. He did not say, "This bread becomes My body." Sitting before  His disciples in His pre-glorified incarnate state, He said, "This is My  body ... This is My blood." Though they did not fully understand what  that moment meant until after the resurrection, they clearly understood  the metaphorical nature of His language, much as they understood so many  other metaphorical occurrences of biblical imagery (e.g., the Lord is  ... my Rock, my Shield, my Fortress, my Shepherd).Though  receiving the Lord's Supper is a symbolic act, it is nevertheless deeply  meaningful. When Jesus' followers participate in the celebratory meal,  their prayerful, introspective reflection demonstrates their desire for  and commitment to a continuing lifestyle of deepening devotion,  communion, unity, trust, obedience, gratitude and service (1 Corinthians  10:16-17, 21; 11:20-34).