The night Jesus was handed over to be crucified, He instituted a meal to be shared by believers in remembrance of Him. Today the Lord’s Supper serves as one of the sacramental cornerstones of any localised expression of God’s family here on earth. We eat, and drink, to obey His command, demonstrate our unity as a family of believers, and remember the price of our salvation.
This meal has been shared by believers throughout history, and surviving literature from the Early Church illustrates just how important this meal was to the first Christian communities. We would do well to hold it in the same reverence and esteem as they did.
Although we are not certain when exactly it was written, the Didache is one of the earliest surviving extra-Biblical Christian texts. Written most likely in the second century (though some suggest it could have been a first century work) the short text addresses the Way of Life in contrast with the Way of Death, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. In the tenth chapter of this short work, the author pens a beautiful prayer which he encourages his readers to pray together after they have shared the Lord’s Supper. Though many churches in the UK (and indeed further afield) are still restricted in their gathering by the Covid-19 pandemic, this prayer bears reflecting upon.
Maybe we cannot pray it gathered as a church family quite yet, but it is a beautiful example of a Church family in communion with one another, crying out to their God and Saviour, united in Him.
Perhaps, as we long to gather fully in our churches to share the Lord’s Supper together, this is a helpful prayer to pray reflectively, asking for our God to work powerfully in and through us for His Glory. I have found simply reading it through to be a great encouragement, as we remember the many brothers and sisters who have gone before us to glory who have uttered these words in faith and hope.
An Early Christian Grace for the Lord’s Supper
We give thanks to you, O Holy Father, for your Holy Name which you made to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you made known to us through your Son Jesus. To you be glory for ever.
You, Lord Almighty, made all things for the sake of your Name, and you give food and drink to mankind for their enjoyment, that we might give thanks to you. And you have blessed us with spiritual food and drink and eternal light through your Son. Above all, we thank you that you are the Mighty One. To you be glory for ever.
Remember, O Lord, your church, deliver us from evil and make us perfect in your love. Gather us together in your holiness from the four winds to your kingdom as you have prepared it. For yours is the power and the glory for ever.
Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosannah to the God of David! If any man be holy, let him come. If any man be not, let him repent. Come Lord Jesus!