January 2013 Seminar: Worship and Sacramental Spirituality

Our January Worship Seminar, featuring Dr. Gordon T. Smith, will be held January 7-8, 2013, during the January on-campus intensive. This event is open to the public, but requires registration.

Gordon T. SmithDr. Smith is the President of Ambrose College University and Seminary in Calgary, Alberta Canada, and the former Academic Vice President, Dean, and Associate Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since 2003, he served as the President of reSource Leadership International, an agency that seeks to foster excellence in theological training in the developing world. Having grown up in Ecuador, Dr. Smith has a passion for cultivating spiritual growth and has extensively researched and written on both systematic and spiritual theology. His books include A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit, and Beginning Well: Christian Conversion and Authentic Transformation. An ordained minister with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Dr. Smith received his M.Div. from Canadian Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from Loyola School of Theology, the Ateneo de Manila University.

Register now online or by mail.

Seminar description: This seminar examines the vital place of the Lord’s Supper in Christian worship and how this holy meal informs, shapes and animates Christian spirituality. While primary attention will be given to the Lord’s Supper, we will also be asking what it means to worship as the baptized (or, as those who might be on the road to baptism). Also, from diverse perspectives we will consider how the celebration of the sacraments fosters a truly Trinitarian spirituality.

Seminar Schedule

Monday, January 7 Tuesday, January 8
7:30 am Breakfast 7:30 am Breakfast
8:30 am Chapel 8:30 am Chapel
9:15 am Seminar Session 1
Speaking of a Sacramental Spirituality
9:15 am Seminar Session 5
Covenant: The Lord’s Supper as a Renewal of Baptismal Vows
10:30 am Break 10:30 am Break
10:45 am Seminar Session 2
Remembrance: The Lord’s Supper as a Memorial
10:45 am Seminar Session 6
Nourishment: The Lord’s Supper as Bread from Heaven
12:00 pm Lunch (provided) 12:00 pm Lunch (provided)
1:15 pm Seminar Session 3
Communion: The Lord’s Supper as Fellowship with Christ and One Another
1:15 pm Seminar Session 7
Anticipation: The Lord’s Supper as the Declaration of Hope
2:15 pm Break 2:15 pm Break
2:30 pm Seminar Session 4
Forgiveness: The Lord’s Supper as a Table of Mercy
2:30 pm Seminar Session 8
Thanksgiving: The Lord’s Supper as Eucharist
3:45 pm Free 3:45 pm Free
5:30 pm Dinner 5:30 pm Dinner
6:30 pm Practicum Presentations 6:30 pm Healing/Communion Service


Session Descriptions

Session 1—
Speaking of a Sacramental Spirituality

In our opening session, we will consider what it means to recover a full appreciation of the sacraments in a Christian spirituality—what it means to speak of a baptismal and Eucharistic spirituality. What place do sacramental actions (and symbols) have in the cultivation of faith, hope and love? We will consider the vital place of embodiment in Christian spirituality, the place of symbol, and how the sacraments are properly speaking located within the practices and routines of Christian worship.

Session 2—
Remembrance: The Lord’s Supper as a Memorial

Worship is an act of encounter, with Christ in real time—in the present. And worship is an act of anticipation; it has a future orientation. But this is only so if it is clearly an act of remembrance: we worship in light of the acts of God, as Creator and Redeemer; and in worship, we make present these great acts. In particular, our worship (and both baptism and the Lord’s Supper) are acts by which the Cross of Christ informs and transforms our present. The past is made present—the Lord’s Supper as an anamnesis; our lives are infused with the reality of a past event made present: Christ crucified infusing our lives. In baptism and the Lord’s Supper, we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection.

Session 3—
Communion: The Lord’s Supper as Fellowship with Christ and One Another

While there is certainly a place for personal and solitary prayer and worship, this only has meaning as a counterpart of worship as the gathering of the faithful—the community of faith—who together, in worship, are in real-time communion with the risen and ascended Christ. Nothing so represents this to us as the Lord’s Supper: that we are in this together and that together we are in fellowship with Christ. We will highlight how it is ultimately Christ, in real time—now, in this hour and in this place—that hosts the people of God for this sacred meal.

Session 4—
Forgiveness: The Lord’s Supper as a Table of Mercy

In a direct challenge to medieval and contemporary Evangelical notions of guilt that in turn view the Lord’s Supper as a tale of judgment, what does it means to speak of the Holy Meal as an experience of the mercy of God? This session will profile the intimate connection between the spiritual practice of confession and the sacraments of the church—considering both the vital place of confession to Christian worship and thus what it means to foster our capacity to live “under the mercy.” Baptism is an act of appropriation—embracing the forgiveness of God; in the Lord’s Supper, this forgiveness is received afresh.

Session 5—
Covenant: The Lord’s Supper as a Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Baptism is an act of alignment with the kingdom purposes of God; and in the Lord’s Supper, this commitment is renewed (and, as we will see in the next session, strengthened). In worship, we foster a vision for what God is doing in the world—to see and feel that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Worship, then, is not escapist; rather, in worship we grow in our capacity to see how God is so very present in and to our world. This session will also address the interplay between Christian mission and the Lord’s Supper—the sacraments and the “active” dimensions of a Christian spirituality.

Session 6—
Nourishment: The Lord’s Supper as Bread from Heaven

While each session will consider what it means to speak of the sacraments as a “means of grace,” it is particularly in this hour that we will explore the ways in which the infilling and empowerment of the Spirit is intimately linked with Word and Sacrament. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are an essential complement to the Word (preached and taught)—both in conversion (see Acts 2:38), and in spiritual formation (see Acts 2:42). The transforming power of the sacraments is, though, intimately linked to the matter of faith and personal disposition. The sacraments have no transforming power in themselves, but only as they are received in faith and in eager dependence on the Word.

Session 7—
Anticipation: The Lord’s Supper as the Declaration of Hope

We live in a discouraging and fragmented world. The only hope we have of living with strength, creativity and courage is that our hope is regularly renewed and sustained. The Lord’s Supper feeds our hope; it counters our propensities towards cynicism. It fosters our capacity for patience and thus for generosity towards others—patience with God and patience with those with whom we live and work. We will consider the vital distinction between Christian hope and either wishful thinking or naïve optimism.

Session 8—
Thanksgiving: The Lord’s Supper as Eucharist

Worship as thanksgiving. We give thanks to the Creator and Redeemer of all things. While the whole of our worship is “thanksgiving” and, thus, eucharistic, nothing so embodies and captures this as the celebratory meal—the act of eating and drinking, with gratitude, in the company of Christ Jesus. And with thanksgiving, the whole of our worship is infused with joy; and, as the Spirit enables, this joy gradually and incrementally (but surely) percolates deep into our consciousness. We will consider the place of the “Great Thanksgiving” in the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper.

Make it a Spiritual Retreat

You are welcome to craft your own schedule to incorporate additional time on campus to take in chapel sessions, visit classes, read and research in the library, or spend time alone with God. You may plan to come early and stay through Wednesday if you’d like. Let us know how we can help.


Cost: $150 before December 1; $175 if registering after December 1
Includes lunch on Monday and Tuesday

Register now online or by mail.

After you have registered, hotel and additional seminar information will be sent to your email address. Questions? Call the IWS office at 800. 282. 2977.

About the author

Alumni Director, Practicum Professor, and DWS graduate.