The Salvation Army does not practice the Eucharist. Instead it chooses to see Christ in all aspects of life, especially in our mission to the world.
The History of The Salvation Army and the Eucharist
In its early days, God led The Salvation Army not to observe specific sacraments including the Eucharist, sometimes known as the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion (amongst other names). God helped us to see the danger in relying on external rituals to signify the experience they point to.
A Sacramental People
However, Salvationists are a sacramental people. We find God living and at work not in bread and wine but in our every day life experiences. We celebrate his presence in our own lives and the lives of others by connecting them with the earthly life of Jesus.
A Sacramental Mission
Radically, we also find God in our mission. We believe that when our lives bring grace, healing and reconciliation to the world around us, then Christ can be seen. One of my most cherished Salvation Army songs, written by General Albert Orsborn, reminds me:
My life must be Christ’s broken bread,Albert Orsborn (1886-1967)
My love his outpoured wine,
A cup o’erfilled, a table spread
Beneath his name and sign,
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share his life through mine.
2 My all is in the Master’s hands
For him to bless and break;
Beyond the brook his winepress stands
And thence my way I take,
Resolved the whole of love’s demands
To give, for his dear sake.
3 Lord, let me share that grace of thine
Wherewith thou didst sustain
The burden of the fruitful vine,
The gift of buried grain.
Who dies with thee, O Word divine,
Shall rise and live again.
© The General of The Salvation Army.
Used By Permission. CCL Licence No. 30158
Copied from The Song Book of The Salvation Army
Song Number 610
Recently, in a discussion on The Salvation Army and the Eucharist, a Salvationist dismissed our radical approach to sacramental mission as mythology that surrounds the original decision not to practice the Eucharist and argued this song was not an adequate explanation as to why we do not practice the Eucharist.
My Life is Christ’s Broken Bread and Outpoured Wine
I disagree. In our mission to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity Christ can be seen. My life is sacramental, my life is Christ’s broken bread and outpoured wine when it is centred on Christ and when it reveals and offers to others the unexpected grace he has shown me and longs to show to them. Christ is seen when I speak on behalf of God. Christ is seen when my lifestyle reflects him. Christ is seen wherever you see compassion for the lost, lonely and vulnerable. Radical love for the marginalised in our society is an image of God.
Experiencing Christ in Our Mission
The Salvation Army would never suggest Christians should not practice the Eucharist, if it helps them connect with God. But we do testify that we can see, smell, hear, touch and taste Christ in our mission to the world as we share God’s grace with those around us.
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