What Does Communion Mean to You?
Lately our equipping team has been having a lot of discussion around Communion. Our discussions have been circling around the confusion and complexity that the church in general has placed around this most amazing means of grace that our Lord has given to us.
When I ask people what communion is for you, here is what I get as answers:
“It’s communion with God - a time when you remember him. You remember him as you drink the juice and eat the bread or wafer - the type of juice or bread isn’t important, the significance of them is what matters - “My Body” and “My Blood” - the body of Christ and Blood of Jesus.”
“It’s a time for the forgiveness of my sins so that I am forgiven - although I know I will just go and sin again”
“I grew up in a church that did communion once in a while… so doing it weekly is not normal for me. It’s the meal of Christ where you drink the body and the bread - we are redoing the last supper every time.”
“It’s when we eat bread and drink grape juice”
“Connecting with God and being obedient because he says were suppose to do it”
“It’s a mysterious sacrament when God bestows a means of grace upon us as we remember him and his sacrifice until Jesus returns again.”
“It’s the corporate crunch - when everyone eats the cracker at the same time.”
“I don’t know how to put it into words, I just do it because I always have.”
“It’s the time when the zombies of the church all get up together to eat a wafer and drink juice all at the same time when the guy up front tells them to do it.”
So what is communion?
The word "communion" is defined as the act of sharing, or holding in common; participation.
But what is the biblical understanding of communion?
Communion is translated from the Greek word "koinonia" and it means a partnership, participation or social intercourse, fellowship, communion, communication, distribution, contribution or to communicate.
Communion is taken from the event recorded in scripture, most notably in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 where Paul is telling the Corinthian Church what Jesus said at the last supper and institutes what the church calls ‘Communion’ or the Lord’s Supper.
Since that time, the church in general has placed many rules and man-made laws or traditions around communion to try and keep it sacred or holy which actually contributes to how this sacred act has lost most of its actual meaning.
There are in depth discussions that take place about the elements themselves. The juice and bread; should it be wine? Does it have to be grape juice? How much juice? How do we distribute it?
What about the bread: Should it be crackers? Matzo? White bread to signify sinless life? Unleavened bread just like Jesus had?
We even focus on ourselves during communion: I don’t like the taste of the bread. The juice is not cold / too cold. The bread is stale. The crackers are too big / small. Matzo is gross. I’m gluten free, what do I use? I am diabetic, can’t we have sugar free juice?
When we focus on ourselves like this, or on the traditions that man has placed on the sacrament of Communion we lose track of what the truth is about the Lord’s Supper.
Here are some important truths about the Lord’s Supper
THE LORD’S SUPPER is something we participate in together as God’s people in obedience to our Lord’s command to remember him and his death for us (vv. 17, 18, 20).
THE LORD’S SUPPER IS NOT OURS BUT HIS, and is, therefore, to be shared in as he has directed. Focused on HIM, not us.
THE LORD’S SUPPER WAS A SUBJECT OF SPECIAL REVELATION to Paul (v. 23). Paul received the details of the Lord’s Supper—not having been present himself, as the other apostles had—by special and direct revelation. Which he then passed on to us through this discourse here.
THE LORD’S SUPPER IS PRIMARILY AN ACT OF REMEMBRANCE (vv. 24–25). The covenant that the cup symbolizes is ‘new’ in the sense that what is old has become obsolete and should be replaced by what is new. The shedding of Jesus’ blood was the means by which the new covenant was established.
It is interesting to notice that the degree of frequency with which Christians should celebrate the Lord’s Supper is not mentioned. The instruction is given for ‘as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup…’ so how frequently is a matter of tradition. The importance is when you do have communion, you are to remember HIM.
THE LORD’S SUPPER IS AN ACT OF PROCLAMATION (V. 26). Every time we meet around the Lord’s Table (take communion) the gospel is symbolized and proclaimed. The word ‘proclaim’ expresses the thought of an activity directed towards men and women, and something done with a sense of solemnity.
By sharing in the Lord’s Supper we keep the Lord Jesus Christ’s death central in our thinking, and we give public evidence to all who will observe us that the gospel centers on the Lord Jesus and his saving work on the cross.
THE LORD’S SUPPER IS A FORWARD-LOOKING EVENT—we do it ‘until he returns’ (v. 26).
THE LORD’S SUPPER SHOULD BE A TIME FOR SELF-EXAMINATION (vv. 27–34). When the scripture tells us not to take part ‘in an unworthy manner’ it means we participate carelessly or unthinkingly.
The death of our Lord Jesus has brought us into God’s family so that we call him ‘Father’ and one another ‘brother’ or ‘sister’. If by our behavior we despise, hurt or humiliate one another, we sin against that sacrifice of his body and blood.
That is why we must take a time for repentance. Search our heart and make sure we are in the right place to take communion - we should mend those issues we have with others prior to taking communion.
The Lord’s Supper is a significant and important celebration in the church and should be treated that way.
The word ‘look’ provides a helpful way to remember and recall the significance of the Lord’s Supper.
We should look back—in remembrance (vv. 24, 25).
We should look up—in thanksgiving to God (vv. 24, 25).
We should look around—to make sure we are in a relationship of fellowship and love with God’s people - our community (vv. 17–22).
We should look in—in self-examination (vv. 27–34).
We should look forward—to our Lord’s coming again (v. 26).
So, as you participate in Communion this week - remember who you are supposed to be in communion with - Jesus and your community. And most of all, remember, “It’s not about us”.
See you all Sunday!
Pastor Rick Bambrick
Rick has been in ministry for over 22 years with the majority of that time in volunteer positions serving the local church with a passion for sharing the Gospel. His greatest desire is to see people meet the living Jesus, take the life changing steps toward living the life Jesus has called them into. Rick will be celebrating 30 years of marriage to his bride, Dawn in 2019. Together they raised two amazing children whom are both married and serve Jesus in the local church as well. Rick currently serves Christ Community Church, the church he came to faith in, as the Co-Lead Pastor.