By definition, communion is:
the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
the service of Christian worship at which bread and wine are consecrated and shared
Those definitions of the same word, are not always together. Growing up in a church, I have heard a lot of differing opinions about this thing called communion. I was most impacted though, by the teaching that said, “If you take this sacrament unworthily, you can get sick”
That a loaded term.
How will I get sick if I take this bread? Is this some sort of poison that Jesus makes you immune to? And what does worthiness have to do with something called “The Lords Supper”? Are any of us truly worthy?
These are just some of the questions that went through my head. But many still hold this belief. That there is something sacred about some bread, and grape juice. Is there? What has troubled me is that I see this pattern throughout my life; People find what they believe and condemn those who are different.
This friends, is not communion.
Neither is the sick part.
Or the segregation part.
Or the part where people aren’t welcome.
Let’s take a journey.
2000 years ago, you heard about this Jesus.
You heard about what he had done.
How in his last dinner is shared a meal with his close friends and washed their feet. You were caught up in this new kingdom and the possibilities.
You have no New Testament.
You have ancient texts that need to be interpreted for you to understand.
You want to know about Jesus, to celebrate.
You gather with other people of the same belief.
You are sharing stories and talking about what new life looks like.
What forgiveness looks like.
But you came without much food.
You see the wealthier people attending getting drunk on their expensive wine.
“I bet that would taste amazing” you say to yourself.
Then the shame breaks into your heart.
You feel like you have brought nothing.
2 fish and a loaf of bread.
You heard a story once about a boy meeting Jesus and how He turned this small meal into a feast for thousands!
But no one sees your offering because they are too busy eating the food you dream of.
You now feel the weight of being not so well off.
You now feel the pressure of needing to be better with your money so you can drink fancy wine and eat with other people who follow Jesus…
The apostle Paul writes:
“Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.
And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing….
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
Lets get to it.
Ever hold onto bitterness? Studies suggest bitterness, and the feelings of anger and depression that accompany it, may be linked to health issues like cardiovascular problems and a weak immune system.
Now, imagine the person you have unresolved issue with are enjoying their life, in front of you. Yup.
Or to openly come to a church to just get drunk and disregard anyone else to do what you want to….
These things Paul lists for us are based on what we do when we are not considerate of anyone else. When we choose to think that we are better, know more or that the poor should help themselves. When we choose to do nothing about our bitterness and un-forgiveness, and yet come to celebrate the fact that Jesus forgave us forever?
Communion is meant to be this beautiful picture of what family looks like.
Also, what we often miss about this ‘last supper’ is the fact that Jesus washed the disciples feet. That God, washed feet. Dirty, sandy, stinky feet.
This God came to serve, to love deeper than we even understand. We don’t wash feet when we gather for communion, but we can at least have the attitude of Jesus; think about compassion, service and love. We can enjoy our time together as we share equally, together. And, let us not forget the biggest part of this; time.
A community meal is not a quick cup where you take a shot of juice and saltless cracker. It is meant to be a slow, connected gathering. One where time is taken. No one is rushed. Story happens when we slow down. This is not the normal practice, I know. And I get the logistics of how hard it would be for many big communities to have such and experience, but my challenge would be, why not take time? :)
What are you experiences around communion (holy communion, last supper, etc)?
Do they leave you feeling full or unworthy?
Can we shift to understanding how rich it is to commune with God and others?
Can we bring back the importance of acceptance, grace, forgiveness and other-centeredness?
Can we gather and share meals, stories and our lives as a small picture of what God’s kingdom will be like?
Peace + Love,