letters to surfers

Q. Do Anglicans believe in the real presence of the Lord in their communion services ?

by Robert Brow   July 1999  (web site - www.brow.on.ca)

There is a very wide range of models among low, medium, high, and very high Anglicans. The very high think that there is a transubstantiation (an actual change of substance) of the bread and wine after their consecration by a proper priest in the communion service. The very low think the communion service is a mere reminder of the death of Jesus on the cross.

The medium and ordinary high believe there is a real presence of the Son of God in the service of Holy Communion. The middle of the road Anglicans tend to use pictures like a real presence of love in a hug or a kiss - it is possible to know you are loved without being hugged or kissed, but the real thing is different. The higher Anglicans view the sacraments as instrumental in that they actually change the situation. When two business tycoons shake hands on a deal, the deal is settled. If one of them holds back there is no deal. Similarly the substance of the ring is not changed in marriage, but if a ring is not given or received there is no marriage.

For myself I mostly believe in the middle of the road explanation of real presence. But I often use an invitation to communion (yes, we have an altar call every Sunday) as a means of accepting the Lord in a personal way. When this happens the real presence in the bread and wine has become instrumental.

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