Topical and Doctrinal Notes
Leading Thought: The Holy Supper
The first sacrament, Baptism, shows that the person baptized belongs to the church, where he can be regenerated, and that he must be regenerated. One may be baptized as a babe, and if he has not been baptized then, he may be when grown up. It is a great privilege to be admitted by baptism to the New Church, for here we have the Word of the Lord, and the Writings in which He explains the Word so that we can understand it aright; here we learn to know the Lord our God, who is our Creator, our Redeemer and our Savior; here we are taught His laws; and about His kingdom on earth and in heaven.
By baptism in which the Lord's new Advent is recognized, the person is introduced into the New Church, and inserted in the company of angels of the New Heaven. By the other sacrament, the Holy Supper, if a person goes to it properly, he comes very near to the Lord, for the Lord Himself is present in the Holy Supper, and sups with man, and fills his heart with love and his head with wisdom.
Do you know how a person comes properly or "worthily" to the Holy Supper? Tell me what a person does when he is asked to dine with someone whom he loves and honors. Does he not wash himself and put on his best clothes and take his most cheerful and happy feelings along with him, and prepare himself to talk at table about things which will please his friend? So when a person goes to the Holy Supper, at the invitation of His Divine Lord, he gets his soul ready, by examining himself to see whether he has done or said or wished or thought what is right, and why he has done so, and if he finds anything wrong in his life he is sincerely sorry for it and repents of it and prays to the Lord for help, making up his mind earnestly to be on his guard not to give way to what is evil and false in the future. In this way he washes himself spiritually, and puts on his best clothes spiritually, and comes to the Supper trying to please the Lord; and the Lord gives him for his soul the wonderful food which He calls His "body" and "blood," while He gives him for his body the good pure bread and wine. For the unleavened bread which is used in the Holy Supper represents the good things which belong to love; while the wine there used represents the truths which belong to wisdom or faith. And to eat and drink means to make the goods and truths one's own.
In this connection you may, perhaps, remember our lesson about the feeding of the multitude with the five loaves and two fishes, and that there is an inside bread and an outside bread, - that is to say, food for body and food for soul. The body is fed with bread and wine, but the soul with goodness and truth. If we had no food for the body, we should die. If we do not take in goodness, our soul shrivels: but it must be real good - good which has real love back of it, living love for the Lord and for the neighbor. And when you stop to think that some day the body must die, but that the soul keeps on living forever, you will realize how important it is to nourish the soul so that it may be healthy and strong and beautiful.
Now the body needs drink as well as food. We drink water and milk and wine. So the soul needs something besides goodness, and this something else is truth. Just as drink helps the food to digest so that it may become part of the body, so the truth helps the good to become part of our soul. We need both good and truth, and this the Lord shows us by giving us bread and wine in the Holy Supper. It is therefore a great mistake to have only bread at the Holy Supper as was done in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Lord instituted the Holy Supper immediately after He had partaken of the Passover with His disciples. The Passover was the great annual religious feast on which the Jews celebrated their deliverance from the Egyptian slavery, and it had a very deep spiritual significance. From the time when it was first instituted, it represented that the Lord was going to deliver or redeem mankind from hell. Therefore when the Lord Jesus Christ had accomplished this deliverance or redemption, it was no longer appropriate to celebrate the Passover, for what it represented was fulfilled. And yet it was very important indeed that Christians should always have something to remind them that the Lord did what the Passover represented, namely, to remind them that He came on earth and redeemed mankind. And so He instituted the Holy Supper, saying to His disciples as He did so, "This do in remembrance of Me." That is to say, that we should keep the Holy Supper, so as to remember what the Lord did for us: that He fought for us even harder than ever anybody else could fight, and that He died for us in order that we might be free from the government of hell. 0h, how much He loves us! And what a great hero He is!
And now, after His second coming, with its attendant final redemption in the year 1757, when we of the New Church partake of the Holy Supper we remember this final redemption as well as that redemption which He wrought when He was on earth in person; and we love the Lord for all that He has done for men, and for what He is doing for each one of us now in helping us to fight against our evils; and every time we partake of the Holy Supper we make up our minds anew, to be truer and better New Church people, working for His Church and serving His heavenly Kingdom, for we can never be true and good enough.
You must look forward to the time when you are grown up and come to the Holy Supper, as the holiest event in your church life.