Communion: Our Practices

  • Observe communion as a meal the first Sunday of each month

  • Share the meal as a part of the Sunday morning service

  • Enjoy as much participation as possible by welcoming each one to bring side dishes, casseroles, salads, or desserts, that are appropriate for the plan on that Sunday

  • Begin our meal with breaking bread, symbolizing the physical body of Jesus, as well as the gathering of broken people who are believers in Jesus Christ

  • Believe that the recognition of His body, broken and beaten, as well as the brokenness of one another's lives, keep us alive, well, and strong

  • End our meal by lifting our cups and remembering the blood of Jesus, shed for the forgiveness of sin

Communion: From the Pastor

The Apostle Paul, from start to finish, warned the church at Corinth about their divisions.  That division showed up significantly in the perversion of the communion table.  The people were using the Lord's Supper to feed their own individual appetites rather than caring for one another.  When this happens, the act of communion becomes something other than "the Lord's Supper you eat," the Apostle warned.  To restore their fellowship with Christ and with one another, the church had to gather at the table.

This has everything to do, I think, with the alienation and loneliness we see among so many Believers today.  We've emphasized the "remembrance" aspect of the Supper into an act of individual cognition.  The Believer sits, alone, in the privacy of his or her own thought world, trying to think about the gospel of a broken body and poured out blood.

Evangelical churches that "celebrate" a brief, symbolic communion will try to find something to replace it.  There might be a "Family Night Supper" before a midweek service, or a Sunday after church "Dinner on the Grounds".  At the very least, there will be coffee and doughnuts before the Sunday School classes, and gatherings of Believers eating in some restaurant after church.  These moments of fellowship are an important part of the hospitality the Bible calls us to, but they can't replace the Supper that Jesus has given to us.  In the Supper, we confess ourselves to be sinners, together, and we proclaim, together, the gospel that restores us to right fellowship with God and with one another.  We experience Jesus in our midst serving us the kind of meal that connects us with the upper room in Jerusalem past and the marriage feast of the New Jerusalem future.

Part of the problem is with the way we present the elements themselves  Most contemporary evangelical churches distribute chewing gum size pellets of tasteless bread along with thimble sized plastic shot glasses of grape juice.  This practice hardly represents the unity maintained by a common loaf and a cup.  It also strips away at the reality of the Supper as a meal for a gathering not just a prompt for individual reflection.

The church is NOT an association of like-minded individuals.  The church is a household of brothers and sisters.  Indeed, the church is an organic system, a body connected by the nervous system of the Spirit of Christ Himself, a kind of community that cannot be dissolved by petty conflict or disagreement.  As we eat together around the table of Christ, we're called to a recognition that we are at the table of a Kingdom.  

And we are called there to recognize the presence of the King – not so much in the elements themselves or in our individual spiritual reflection but in the Body he has called together, a body of sinners like us.  Only then will we really get what the Scriptures mean when they call us to “fellowship”.

 

Perhaps if our churches intentionally recovered the community focus of the Lord’s Supper, we might have less and less need for professional conflict resolution experts called in to consult with us on how to overcome our divisions.  After all, for Jesus and for the Apostle Paul, the starting point for unity in the church, and for the sanctification of the Body together, was a common gospel and a common table.  It could be again.

 

In order to get community right, we must reclaim communion.

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