Celebrating the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis poses quite a few challenges for the minister of the Gospel. Foremost among these challenges is that of keeping the meditations close to the message of the passage upon which you have just finished preaching. Additionally, the minister must strive to keep the observation of the Supper fresh for those who are in regular attendance. Of course, this is not to say that repetition–in and of itself–is a bad thing. Repetition is necessary and useful; however, it can also lead to a staleness if ministers are not laboring in advance to purposefully bring the central message of the Gospel to bear from the text to the table. Thankfully, the church has, at her disposal, quite a remarkable aid to assist in the administration of the Supper: namely, the repository of theologically robust gospel centered hymns which put Gospel truths into poetic expression for the people of God. I almost certainly end up citing at least one line from a hymn in every worship service when I administer the Supper.
It should come as no surprise to us that we find poetic expressions of truth to be quite potent in the way in which they tend to work on our minds and emotions–after all, God has given us poetic genres in Scripture for this very reason. Sinclair Ferguson once explained the interconnectedness of poetic genre and the truth that it was conveying when he said, “In any language with poetry–and certainly in Hebrews poetry in the Old Testament Scriptures–the medium appears to be part of the message.”
In light of that fact, here are a few ideas about how you can learn to integrate Gospel poetry at the table:
Gospel Centered Hymns for Communion
- Read and sing your way through a trustworthy hymnal on a semi-regular basis. In order to reach for the right verse of a hymn to incorporate at the table you have to know the poetic truth of the hymns in advance. Those of us who grew up in a church that sang hymns certainly have at an advantage. Many did not, however; and have to learn them for the first time as adults. Take time to read through the hymns in the Trinity Hymnal or Hymns of Grace and Gloryor Hymns of Grace. You can also find almost all of the hymns in these particular hymnals at Hymnary.org.