(photo of Charles Willis)
AS WE PARTAKE
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (1 Cor. 11:28)
INTRO.: A song which encourages us to examine ourselves while we eat of the bread and drink of the cup is “As We Partake” (#519 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text of stanzas 1 and 2 were written and the tune was composed both by Charles L. Willis, who was born on March 13, 1965, the third child of Donald and Marilyn Willis. Both of his parents were raised up in Christian homes and served God all their lives. His father, one of four preaching Willis brothers, the others being Cecil, Lewis, and Mike, preached the gospel full time beginning at age sixteen in East Texas, retired from preaching in 2009, served as an elder, led many individuals to the Lord, and passed from this life in 2011. In her life, his mother has demonstrated the essence of Christianity in her godly attitudes and heart to serve others. Charles counts himself fortunate to have been raised in a household that believed in God so strongly. Charles, who has three siblings, Cathy Price, Don Willis, Jr., and Christie Estes, was raised in and around Houston, TX. Most of his formative years were spent in Conroe, TX, just thirty minutes north of Houston. He is a graduate of Willis High School in Willis, TX, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Sam Houston State University.
While in college, Willis met Dee Hopper whom he married in 1988. God blessed them with two wonderful children, a son Joshua and a daughter Rachel. “As We Partake” was copyrighted in 1993 and first published in Hymns for Worship Revised (not in the original 1987 edition). After teaching Junior High School Band at Clear Creek ISD in League City, TX, for ten years, during which time he did some preaching on the side, Willis decided to preach full time, so one week after school dismissed in 1998, the Willises moved to Knoxville, TN, and he began laboring as the evangelist for the Northside Church of Christ where he remained for four and a half years. Then in January of 2003, they moved to New Caney, TX, located about thirty minutes east of Conroe, for him to work with a congregation which his father had started while Charles was in high school, and where he continues to labor today, also serving as an elder.
In addition, Willis has written three books in the “Discussing the Word Series” for Truth Books. Suitable for Adult or High School classes, they are Giving God Control, an in-depth study of Colossians chapter 3, in which thirteen principles are examined, complete with word studies and biblical references; The Heart of Paul, which is a workbook on the life of the Apostle Paul designed to encourage open discussion of relevant issues for the spiritual development of Christians; and Satan’s Assault on the Faith, which leads students through thirteen topics that cause some to lose their faith and encourages the individual to grow in knowledge and faith so as to not be led astray by Satan’s assault. Also, Willis was a Technical Editor for Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, a hymnal published in 2012 by Sumphonia Productions, for which he provided a number of arrangements (I counted fifteen selections with a credit to him).
This hymn shows the importance of examining ourselves when we partake of the Lord’s supper.
I. Stanza 1 explains what we remember when we partake of the Lord’s supper
As we partake of the supper of Jesus,
May we believe that He died on that tree.
He gave His life that we might have forgiveness.
He paid the price upon Mount Calvary.
- We remember that Jesus died on that tree: 1 Pet. 2:24
- He did this so that we might have forgiveness: Eph. 1:7
- Thus, He paid the price to redeem us: 1 Pet. 1:18-19
II. Stanza 2 explains whom we honor when we partake of the Lord’s supper
The Son of God came to earth to bring freedom.
He saw us chained in the bondage of sin.
We had no hope unless He would save us.
He is our King, Redeemer, and our Friend.
- We honor the Son of God who came to bring freedom: Jn. 8:31-36
- We would have had no hope if He had not come to save us: 1 Tim. 1:12-17
- Therefore, we honor Him as our Friend because He laid down His life for us: Jn. 15:13-15
III. Stanza 3 (added) explains what we do when we partake of the Lord’s supper
As we partake of this blessed memorial,
We show Christ’s death until He shall return.
We take the bread and the cup in remembrance,
And for His coming back our spirits yearn.
- We engage in a blessed memorial because we do this in remembrance of Him: Lk. 22:19-20
- Also, we show forth His death until He shall return: 1 Cor. 11:23-26
- And we eat the bread and drink the cup in communion with Him: 1 Cor. 10:16
CONCL.: The song was originally published with only the first two stanzas. I have taken the liberty of adding the third stanza to round it out for use before the Lord’s supper. The words of all three stanzas are designed to help us focus our minds on the real meaning of the memorial feast “As We Partake.”