Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, April 2, 2012 0 comments

There are lots of different ways we could look at this week’s word - communion. We could look at it in the context of the Lord’s Supper, which is commonly called Holy Communion. Or we could look at it as a form of unity in community, and the communion we have with one another. Or, we could look at both.

Communion, as in the Lord’s Supper, is a tradition the church adopted based on Jesus’ actions before His death as described in the gospels, for example Matthew 26:17-30. Because of Jesus’ actions in this meal, many churches consider it a holy act - a sacrament or an ordinance. Churches today celebrate this Holy Communion in a myriad of ways. Some have closed communion, which means that only people belonging to that faith can participate in this remembrance. Others practice open communion, which means that anyone ready and willing to receive Christ’s love for them is welcome to partake. Some churches use bread, while others use crackers or unleavened bread. Some churches serve wine, others grape juice, and still others offer both. Some churches offer the meal via intinction (dipping the bread into the wine), while others serve them separately. Most offer individual cups of the wine (or juice), but some still offer a common cup that all drink out of. Some churches offer Holy Communion every Sunday, while others offer it less often.

The point is, it’s not the details of how we celebrate Holy Communion that make it special; it’s the meaning behind the meal. We are to eat the bread and drink the wine to remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. The bread represents His body, which was killed for our sake. The wine represents his blood that was shed for our sake. It is through this meal that we have an opportunity to not only mentally remember Jesus’ sacrifice, but physically as well. As you eat the bread and drink the wine, your body becomes in communion with Christ Himself and we experience His grace and forgiveness through this remembrance act.

The other way of looking at the word communion is in the context of our unity with others, particularly in the church. If a church is experiencing true community, then we are really in unity with those around us and we experience true communion. There is a phrase in the Apostles’ Creed that reads, “the communion of saints.” This refers to the fellowship of all believers throughout history, including the early church, those alive today, those yet to come, and everyone in between. We all experience unity through Christ’s body. As it says in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

These two meanings for the word communion sound like separate ideas, right? Well, not exactly. By experiencing Jesus’ saving grace through the act of Holy Communion, we experience communion with the entire body of believers. We are made part of the body of Christ through receiving His grace. By taking Holy Communion, we enter into communion with the entire church throughout the world.