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A Holy Meal

The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church

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"Smith's approach is irenic and utterly trans-denominational. . . . Readers will learn much, both from the content of the book and from Smith's warm pastoral approach to issues that have for so long divided God's people."--Ron Man, Reformed Worship

The Lord's Supper refuses the rolling pin. It cannot be flattened into something of our own making. In the Lord's Supper, the Triune God breaks out of the boxes we construct in vain to domesticate Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

That is the message of Gordon Smith's A Holy Meal. He writes with the conviction that the holy meal instituted by Jesus continues to challenge our assumptions about the Christian life by showing us who God really is and how God comes to us in the acts of breaking the bread and sharing the cup.

A Holy Meal unpacks the many fruitful meanings of the Lord's Supper, showing why they should be more prominent in the lives of individual believers and in the broader covenant community. The author's irenic approach allows for ecumenical dialogue and celebration of the varied streams of the Christian tradition and gives attention to actual Christian practice of the Lord's Supper, showing how different expressions can shed light on theological principles.


"Hunger and thirst for the gift of the Lord's Supper is an encouraging sign of congregational renewal in many churches. A growing interest in the theology of the Lord's Supper is a hopeful indication of lively and ecumenical theological conversation. Smith's book, a pastorally aware and theologically rich statement of the Lord's Supper, is a valuable contribution to both congregational renewal and theological conversation."--Leanne Van Dyk, academic dean and professor of Reformed theology, Western Theological Seminary

"Smith's Holy Meal demonstrates the richness of a thorough integration of exegetical, biblical, systematic, and practical theology. In the book, he sensitively leads readers on a journey of revisiting the key biblical texts, theological themes, and ecclesial traditions related to the Lord's Supper. The exegesis is accurate, the theology is wise, and the implications are transformative for every Christian's walk of faith. This is a must read for all those searching for the significance of this regular rhythm in the worship of the church."--Mark J. Boda, professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College

"Given that so much of Jesus' incarnational ministry takes place around meals, we are not surprised that he reconfigures the worship life of God's people around a holy meal. Indeed, eat and drink are the only verbs of worship explicitly commanded by Jesus. In this thoroughly researched, creatively structured book, Smith sympathetically explores the various Christian understandings of what happens when we eat and drink--not to have us completely change our views but to enrich our own traditions. Be forewarned: As you read what Smith unfolds concerning the practice and mystery of the meal, you will find yourself seeking many more opportunities to meet the risen Savior at his table."--Darrell Johnson, associate professor of pastoral theology, Regent College

"In a manner that is both trenchant and engaging, Smith calls on Christians to reconsider and embrace the holy meal ordained by Christ. Writing both to the contemporary Christian who may be skeptical of rites and to the believer who senses that the Lord's Supper is central to the Christian walk but does not know why, the author takes readers through Scripture and church history, demonstrating the significance of this corporate action."--Edith M. Humphrey, associate professor of New Testament studies, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Gordon T. Smith

    Gordon T. Smith

    Gordon T. Smith (PhD, Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University) is president of Ambrose University in Calgary, Alberta, and professor of systematic and spiritual theology. He has also taught at Regent College, Vancouver, and is the author of many...

    Continue reading about Gordon T. Smith


"The heart of this edifying book about the Eucharist is seven meditations on words associated with that Christian rite. . . . [Smith] provide[s] a concise and useful index of Eucharistic thinking. Theologically, he casts a broad net, drawing on various Christian understandings of the Eucharist and showing how different Christian communities can learn from one another. He defers to a diverse array of writers and theologians, from fourth-century bishop Cyril of Jerusalem and 16th-century reformer John Calvin to contemporary liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez and feminist literary critic Carolyn Heilbrun. . . . A rich feast indeed."--Publishers Weekly

"This academic treaty on the concept of communion is both exciting and enthralling. If you are a person of faith, this book will grab you and help draw you into a deeper understanding of your own approach to this table and those who come to it beside you. . . . Throughout all of [Smith's] examinations, he maintains a respect and reverence for traditions other than his own and through this book we may come to appreciate other approaches to this holy meal."--Steven R. McEvoy, Imprint

"Smith explores the symbols and rituals [of the Lord's Supper], and offers quotes from many perspectives: from fourth century bishop Cyril of Jerusalem to liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, with plenty of Calvin and Tozer between. A good resource for leaders who wish to keep the Communion service fresh."--Leadership Journal

"This book will be particularly useful for adult education in local congregations seeking to deepen their sacramental theology and practice."--Martha L. Moore-Keish, Theology Today

"Smith's approach is irenic and utterly trans-denominational, encouraging us to look at our own traditions discriminatingly and at others' traditions appreciatively. Readers will learn much, both from the content of the book and from Smith's warm pastoral approach to issues that have for so long divided God's people."--Ron Man, Reformed Worship

"A concise but rich catechetical aid for pastors and local congregations trying to broaden their understanding of the sacrament. . . . The result is an interesting mixture of eucharistic traditions (Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Puritan) all interpreted from a perspective that remains Christ-centered and mission-oriented. . . . Each of the themes sounded could easily provide the basis for an adult study session. . . . The book could be useful to a church group or pastors' study group desiring to deepen their understanding of Holy Communion. Smith has brought together many of the biblical and theological issues that are important to the ecumenical convergence. He presents them in a way that makes them accessible, particularly to those who are less familiar with, or more hesitant to look upon, the many bright facets of eucharistic meaning."--Christopher Grundy, Doxology