The following are excerpts from John Wesley’s sermon, ‘On the Duty of Constant Communion.’ (To read the sermon in its entirety, please click here.)
I. I am to show that it is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can.
1. The First reason why it is the duty of every Christian so to do is, because it is a plain command of Christ. That this is his command, appears from the words of the text, “Do this in remembrance of me:” By which, as the Apostles were obliged to bless, break, and give the bread to all that joined with them in holy things; so were all Christians obliged to receive those sign of Christ’s body and blood. Here, therefore, the bread and wine are commanded to be received, in remembrance of his death, to the end of the world. Observe, too, that this command was given by our Lord when he was just laying down his life for our sakes. They are, therefore, as it were, his dying words to all his followers.
2. A Second reason why every Christian should do this as often as he can, is, because the benefits of doing it are so great to all that do it in obedience to him; viz., the forgiveness of our past sins and the present strengthening and refreshing of our souls. In this world we are never free from temptations. Whatever way of life we are in, whatever our condition be, whether we are sick or well, in trouble or at ease, the enemies of our souls are watching to lead us into sin. And too often they prevail over us. Now, when we are convinced of having sinned against God, what surer way have we of procuring pardon from him, than the “showing forth the Lord’s death;” and beseeching him, for the sake of his Son’s sufferings, to blot out all our sins.
[...] 4. Let every one, therefore, who has either any desire to please God, or any love of his own soul, obey God, and consult the good of his own soul, by communicating every time he can; like the first Christians, with whom the Christian sacrifice was a constant part of the Lord’s day service. And for several centuries they received it almost every day: Four times a week always, and every saint’s day beside. Accordingly, those that joined in the prayers of the faithful never failed to partake of the blessed sacrament. What opinion they had of any who turned his back upon it, we may learn from that ancient canon: “If any believer join in the prayers of the faithful, and go away without receiving the Lord’s Supper, let him be excommunicated, as bringing confusion into the church of God.”
Today, as I observed the Eucharist at St. John’s Church, Harbourne, I experienced in a profound way what Wesley meant when he termed the sacrament a ‘means of grace.’ In and through the service of the table–which isn’t to say that the songs or message weren’t of quality (they were)–I experienced God’s grace in a rich, life-giving way.
The whole affair has me thinking about sacramental practices and what the church may forfeit by forgoing regular observances thereof. By placing so much importance on the songs and sermons, might we be unintentionally withholding what could be an incredible (tactile) experience of the grace of God?
While much more could be said, and while my mind is awhirl with thoughts, I’ll simply direct you to Wesley’s astute observations on the subject–a sermon entitled, ‘On the Duty of Constant Communion.’