More than a history lesson, communion is a deeply personal experience with Jesus
I admit that, on some Sundays, I am not fully engaged in the mental and spiritual demands of communion, but most Sundays my life is renewed by that important remembrance — and renewal strengthens my spiritual grounding.
I frequently complain that we rush through the process so rapidly that its importance to our spiritual lives has little impact.
We all know the events of that evening when Jesus celebrates the last Passover with his apostles.
Communion services often begin with the reading of these events from the Gospels. Paul’s directions to the Corinthian church also effectively introduce communion. At times the person leading the service will read an account of the crucifixion. I have even heard the leader of communion retell the story of the first Passover in Egypt, when the children of Israel prepared to leave slavery. They killed the lamb for their meal and marked their door posts and lintels with the lamb’s blood.
The intimacy of the last Passover meal Jesus shares with the Apostles, especially in John’s account (chapters 13 through 17), reveals the timeless love Jesus has for the disciples and future followers. The crucifixion accounts powerfully communicate the gore and the suffering Jesus endured to bring grace and redemption to mankind.
Although the bloody, beaten body nailed to the cross evokes pity and compassion, the bloody Christ touches the heart for a limited time. Eventually the participants in the Communion must develop a deeper understanding of Christ’s death and how the church shares in this special remembrance to bind us together as the Body of Christ.
The history of the Passover meal, from the days of slavery, shows the consistency of God’s planning for the spiritual redemption of the creation fashioned in his image.
The communion meal must be more than the history of Jesus’ last Passover, the bloody body on the cross or the symbol of historical Israel’s freedom from slavery. Our communion must be a deeply personal experience with our Lord and Savior. With all our senses and all our being, we must recognize the body, blood and divinity of Jesus.
Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians should be on our minds as we go through every communion service. We are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes, and “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27)
When we share communion as a time of self-examination, we are forced to measure ourselves against the ideal of Jesus Christ. Such an examination always makes me humble: I have far too many weaknesses and failures to have been on this path for so long.
Some people refrain from communion because of their sin, but our sin only proves how much we need the spiritual nourishment that comes through our communing with God. Thoughtful self-examination helps us see our needs and our weaknesses more clearly. We come away from such an activity with a greater awareness of what we must do to draw closer to God. The Christ becomes our strength as we deal with human frailties and progress to a new stage of spiritual devotion.
Recognizing the body of the Lord becomes our challenge because Paul warns that if we do not recognize the body of the Lord, we bring judgment on ourselves. He equates that judgment with discipline, making it clear this is part of learning to see ourselves always in a relationship with Jesus. But we also have to remember that Paul has compared the church to the body of Christ. Therefore, in communion we recognize the crucified body of Christ and we also recognize the group of believers we are with as the body, the church, of the Lord.
I want my communion and the church’s communion to be a source of renewal and strength, for if we are not recognizing the body of Christ we are doomed to be weak and sick, as Paul warns.
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Feedback“Do this in remembrance of me.”
What did the apostles understand from those words? They had been with Jesus over three years and
remembered his words and deeds.
The recorded words show us what his life-lived was made up of, and we may imitate it. We may select a few before we gather to remember him.
The Lord did not say,”remember my death.” The death of the cross was soon to be etched upon their minds, and is beyond imitation. We may only TRUST his Death entirely and repeatedly, as we see how far short we are. We have no life in ourselves.(John 6:53)
“Being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you, will perfect it, until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Phil.1:6Wayne McDanielNorthwest church of ChristPhoenix, Arizona
USAMarch, 14 2012Our communion is both deeply personal but also deeply congregational as we think of ourselves as “one body”. As we recreate the event of our redemption from sin that is provided in Jesus’ sacrifice.Ron BAledo Church of ChristPO Box 127, Aledo
TXMarch, 14 2012