Archives For Lord’s Supper

Garden of Gethsemane.Jerusalem

Garden of Gethsemane. Thousand-year olive trees, Jerusalem.

The place of ‘crushing’ is not a destination, but it is a good pit stop.

A Baptist pastor said in an article I read recently that Maundy Thursday has become his favorite day of the Easter season. That was surprising, he admitted, since he didn’t grow up observing the day before Good Friday as anything special. Nor do many Baptist churches. But as he was called to pastor a church with a unique Thursday night Lord’s supper service prior to Resurrection Sunday, he took on the observance and came to appreciate it deeply.

I understood his experience. A couple of churches I served added Thursday services to their pre-Easter observance. At first, it was a matter of convenience for those who would travel on Good Friday to spend the weekend with grandma. But eventually we found we ourselves needed more time in the garden before we stood at the foot of the Cross, and ultimately at the vacated tomb.

“Maundy” Thursday may sound mournful, but the name itself comes from the Latin for “mandate.” A new commandment I give you, Jesus told his disciples in the upper room on that night, that you love one another. Maundy is a manmade term, as is the “Good” of Friday, but as for the events that happened that night, they are by God’s design.

After donning the servant’s towel and washing his followers’ feet, then giving them his body and blood in the first Lord’s Supper, Jesus led the crew, minus Judas, to the olive press on the other side of the temple grounds. Calling it Gethsemane, we forget that this was a working vineyard, where the crop was grown and at its maturity harvested, then crushed to release its treasure and fulfill its purpose. (Makes you have new respect for that bottle of oil in the cupboard, doesn’t it?) There, kneeling among the gnarled trees and the stone pressing floor, Jesus appears at his most human: suffering, knowing greater suffering was just ahead, wrestling, and yet willing.

And if we left the account there, we would miss several deep truths that make the events of Thursday night crucial to our understanding of Sunday’s victory. We might be tempted to think of Jesus as somehow less than fully human, that his deity abated his agony, if we did not see him wrestling in prayer while even his closest supporters a few yards away abandoned him in favor of sleep. We might miss a point of deep personal connection to Jesus that we need in our own times of crisis.

For Jesus Gethsemane was no rest. It is the place where one last time, his obedience and his surrender to the plans of his Father were tested. It is the place where God’s purpose and his own mission surpassed a momentary desire for relief from the pain of the night. And, blessedly, it is temporary.

In Gethsemane, the Father prepared the Son for the cross before him. Luke, who diagnosed Jesus’ suffering as bloody even in the garden, also tells us that God sent an angel to minister to Jesus.

The agony won’t last forever, but God knows we need help to get through it. And he sends it by his holy messengers. In our own seasons of crushing, we are lifted with the news that God has a purpose for the suffering he allows, and that it is temporary. God knows we hurt; God sends help; God sets a time limit.

In those times, it helps to know that Jesus suffered too. He cried over Lazarus. He cried out on the cross. And he endured in the garden where any remote possibility that he might put his relief ahead of our need was crushed: Not my will, but Yours be done, he said to the Father. We speak of “The Lord’s Prayer” as our model prayer. It, too, says, “Thy will be done.” But in Gethsemane, the prayer is tested and proven, and Jesus comes out the other side fully committed to finish his mission—at all personal cost to himself.

Finally, Gethsemane points to victory. To know the exhilaration of Jesus’ triumph over Satan and hell and sin and death, we must endure with him in his Gethsemane—and ours. In trial, we can be assured that Jesus has been here before. And though it hurts—a lot—we must not rush past Gethsemane, or we miss the magnitude of the victory, when the darkness of Thursday night surrenders to the brilliance of Sunday morning. And that light you see is the Son.

Eric Reed is editor of Illinois Baptist media. 

Back to basics

ib2newseditor —  January 15, 2018

The recent holiday season gave me a little more time than usual to watch football on TV. As the regular season gave way to playoffs and bowl games, it seemed pre-game analysts spent increasing amounts of time discussing “what it will take to win” the next, tougher game. The more serious the consequence of the game, and the fewer games that remain, the more critical it seems to be able to think, and not just play.

Yet as I’ve listened to experts talk again and again about what it takes to be successful, it seems they often come back to the same basic advice. Focus on fundamentals. Block and tackle well. Everyone do your assignment. Establish the ground game. Everything else you need for success will flow from there.

In these big games, will there be an occasional trick play, or a key turnover, or a missed call that influences the game? Probably. But everyone seems to agree that the best you can do to prepare for victory is simply get back to the basics.

Now is the time to consider what it takes to be truly effective in our mission.

I found myself wondering if there is a reminder, even an exhortation, for churches to consider here. Among the most “basic” practices of Baptist churches as we follow the Lord and pursue his mission are celebrations of the Lord’s Supper and believer’s baptism. Yet these can sometimes seem like occasional, even rare, ceremonies, rather than the very blocking-and-tackling basics on which the rest of church life is built.

More than an occasional or routine ceremony, the Lord’s Supper was given to us to be a time of frequent, intimate church fellowship and worship, one that draws each participant to introspection and confession of sin, and to a carefully considered reminder of the price Jesus paid for that sin. The Lord’s Supper is, in itself, a symbol-rich proclamation of the gospel message, one that should, each time, lead us to humble worship and gratitude, and fresh motivation to live out our salvation and to share Jesus with others.

What if we got that “basic” right, every one of us, in every church, every time we celebrated the Lord’s Supper?

If we did, I think it would have a dramatic effect on the other, more neglected, “basic” of baptism. Think of it this way: What if a church were to schedule baptism celebrations as often as it scheduled Lord’s Supper celebrations? More importantly, what if that church adjusted all its other priorities with the goal of seeing at least one person baptized by that time?

In fact, what if the church filled its baptistery on that date, no matter what? If no one was ready to be baptized, the church would simply pray in lament over the unstirred waters, and ask the Lord to guide them to a different result next time.

If the core, blocking-and-tackling tasks of the church are to remember the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus, and continue his mission of seeking and saving the lost, then maybe we need to get back to the basics of the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Maybe we need to let them drive our churches’ priorities and resources and schedules more than the things that drive them now.

As the football analysts remind us at this time of year, the closer we get to the end, and the fewer days that remain, the more critical it is to reflect carefully on what it takes to be truly effective in our mission. That careful reflection will almost always lead us back to the basics, and then forward to victory.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at

THE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

The national fast food chain landed back in the frying pan in mid-September, when a Chicago alderman announced he had succeeded in changing the company’s mind concerning its support of same-sex marriage.

Joe Moreno, who sparked a national debate this summer when he threatened to block Chick-Fil-A from opening restaurants in his ward because of the company’s views, claimed the chain had promised to no longer give money to groups against same-sex marriage.

But others are calling foul on the alderman’s supposed victory.

“There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-Fil-A changed our practices and priorities in order to obtain permission for a new restaurant in Chicago. That is incorrect,” said Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, via former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s website.

“Chick-Fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.”

Two things seem to be Moreno’s main issues with Chick-Fil-A: The company’s contributions to organizations that support traditional marriage, like Focus on the Family; and an anti-discrimination policy that Moreno claims Chick-Fil-A has introduced in the aftermath of the summer controversy.

The alderman said Chick-Fil-A agreed to add language “opposing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the company’s employee handbook,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

But Chick-Fil-A’s “Who We Are” document, to which Moreno said the new language would be added, repeats the wording the company used this summer when defending its beliefs and practices. According to a Baptist Press report, Chick-Fil-A’s tradition is to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

The Who We Are document also says Chick-fil-A “supports programs and marriage retreats to help strengthen and enrich marriages,” which more than 4,000 couples attend annually.

According to CNN, Moreno said Cathy”s statement “at the least, muddied the progress we had made with Chick-fil-A and, at the worst, contradicted the documents and promises Chick-fil-A made to me and the community earlier this month.”

The public continues to weigh in on Chick-Fil-A’s Facebook page, posting thousands of comments. Now, it’s your turn:

In your opinion, has Chick-Fil-A done a good job of navigating this summer’s debates over its leader’s views?

Other news:

Supreme Court justice predicts DOMA will appear before Court
Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
a Supreme Court justice since 1993, said in an address at the University of Colorado Law School that the Defense of Marriage Act is likely to go before the nation’s highest court by next year. “I think it’s most likely that we will have that issue before the court toward the end of the current term,” said Ginsburg, according to the Christian Post. Earlier this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned DOMA Section 3, which defines marriage in federal law in the traditional sense. Read more at

WMU announces young women’s outreach
(From Baptist Press) National Woman’s Missionary Union is stepping up its ministry to younger women through myMISSION, a new, primarily web-based organization for young adult women engaging in missions. The new organization builds on the website that WMU created in 2007 to provide missions discipleship resources to the next generation of young women. The site features missional Bible studies and products, interactive blogs from six young adult women in different stages of life, and articles on such topics as prayer, social justice, time management, money and relationships. Read more at

LifeWay surveys churches’ Lord’s Supper practices
(From LifeWay Christian Resources) The majority of Southern Baptist churches permit anyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ to participate in the Lord’s Supper, according to a survey by LifeWay Research. The survey of 1,066 SBC pastors found 96 percent of their churches allow individuals who are not members of that local church to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Only 4 percent restrict participation to local church members. The survey also revealed that 57 percent of SBC churches observe the Lord’s Supper quarterly. For more findings, go to