The Vertical and the Horizontal

By C. Robert Wetzel

There is both a vertical and a horizontal dimension to the Lord Supper. In a spiritual sense, we are looking up as we once again focus our thoughts on the gift of God in the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we eat the bread we remember his words, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). And as we drink from the cup we hear his words, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it in remembrance of me” (11:25).

Chalice And BreadIt is as though in that moment we are alone with our Lord. The thoughts and cares that have filled our lives throughout the week have been pushed aside. We are now looking up to the God who revealed himself in the Christ. It is a time of remembrance, thanksgiving, and praise.

But there is also the horizontal dimension. As we eat the bread we are mindful of the words of the apostle Paul, “And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17). Yes, we who have gathered in this place of worship are reminded we are all members of the one body of Christ. We are indeed brothers and sisters in Christ with one God and Father who created us and redeemed us.

Hence, as we share in the Lord’s Supper, let us look up to the Christ who gave us this memorial meal. And let us look around to remind us we are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.

Robert Wetzel, retired after serving as president of Emmanuel Christian Seminary for 15 years, still lives in Johnson City, Tennessee.


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