Sharing supper with a kingdom
The simple emblems of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine represent Christ’s body and blood, given as a sacrifice to remove the stain of sin keeping an unworthy people from their God. It is vital for us to remember that sacrifice — and our unworthiness to benefit from it — when we take the emblems on the first day of the week. Too often we allow communion to become routine. Weekly concerns flood our minds and keep us from concentrating on the cross.
Most of us hear a sermon to that effect at least once per year. And most church members need only to look at the words on our church’s communion table to be reminded that Jesus asked us to take the Supper “In Remembrance of Me.”
It seems that a less-emphasized aspect of the Lord’s Supper is the way it unites us with believers around the world. Communion is a global experience — one we share with brothers and sisters in the farthest reaches of the earth.
You’ll find photos and a story this month taken during communion services from Connecticut to Cambodia. The locations where saints commune vary greatly — from the pews of million-dollar church buildings to simple wood benches underneath a tree.
Some people stand in line to receive the emblems while others wait on their knees. Some congregations pass the fruit of the vine in a single cup because they believe the practice is in keeping with Scripture. Others use one cup because it’s all they have.
Some of us, including Togo missionary Brett Emerson, have shared communion with Christians in locations far from our homes.
“We may not eat or drink the exact same things during communion,” Emerson told the Chronicle, “but the representation of Christ’s body, broken for our sins, and his blood, spilled for our salvation, is what truly unites us in a bond that can never be broken.”
Sharing the Lord’s Supper unites us not only with fellow Christians around the world, but also with the untold numbers of believers who have gone before us — and those yet to come.
Jeffrey Hopper, dean of international programs at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., experienced this last year when he and a group of students traveled to the Middle East. Hopper, his wife, Judy, and a group of Harding students rose at just past midnight on a Sunday morning and made a difficult, four-hour hike to the top of Mount Sinai. They shared the Lord’s Supper near the place where the children of Israel received the Ten Commandments, etched by the hand of God himself.
“On that beautiful summer morning, I did reflect on those around the world who would eat the Supper and remember our Lord that day,” Hopper said. “But I also recalled the countless faithful servants who have chosen through the ages to align themselves with God’s plan for us.”
We should remember the uniting power of the Lord’s Supper even when we’re sitting in the same pews we occupy each Sunday. In Churches of Christ, we spend far too much time concentrating on the minor issues that divide us. We’ve even allowed our communion practices to become divisive.
We hope the photos and testimonies on communion will help us to appreciate its global signficance. We must also remember never to lose sight of the act of divine compassion that the Lord’s Supper commemorates. As the words of another old hymn state, “Time and space are praising thee. All things praise Thee — Lord may we.”