Thoughts on Communion
Stephen Morris suggests how we might make the most of our opportunities to break bread together once a month
In a slight change of direction for this blog, I’d like to consider our practice as a church of breaking of bread, or, if you prefer, Communion.
Jesus was quite clear; he left an instruction that his death should be remembered by breaking bread, symbolising his broken body, and sharing a cup of wine together, symbolising his blood. We are to do this until he returns. That seems all very straightforward and simple: but in reality it isn’t!
There are different ways of regarding the act of taking Communion. We can take it as reminding us of the awfulness of Jesus’s death, the pain and anguish of his body being broken and blood shed. Or we can take it as a joyful reminder of God’s supreme love for us and Jesus’s glorious victory over death itself. We can take it as a reminder that one day Jesus will return, and by taking communion we are counting the days till that happens. And by taking the bread together we are symbolising the church being Jesus’s body on earth, and celebrating our unity in that body, with Jesus at our head. We can, of course, regard it as a combination of all of these.
Communion is also a time when we ‘pin our colours to the mast’ and publicly own Christ for ourselves, which is a very powerful statement of our belief. This is even more powerful when somebody does this for the first time.
We believe Communion to be sacramental - defined as a ceremony that imparts spiritual grace - and something we should practise and take seriously. We also believe that all Christian believers are priests, and as such any believer is able to administer Communion. As in so many aspects of our church services and practices, we have stripped away the aspects of Communion we consider superfluous, but there can be a danger in our quest to be ‘authentic’ of swinging too far the other way, taking away too much of the solemnity of Communion.
We want to be able to enjoy all aspects of Communion: a glorious and powerful statement of our faith and belief in the risen Lord Jesus, remembering his pain and death, yet rejoicing in God’s love and Jesus’s glorious resurrection; emphasising our oneness as a body in Christ and at the same time receiving individual blessing, enjoying a supremely intimate moment with Him. In our desire to be authentic yet reverent we need to work together as a church to ensure we both derive the greatest blessing from the act of Communion and, as in all things, to give glory to Jesus. By taking it seriously we are also communicating our declaration of belief very visually to anyone in the congregation who is yet to share our belief.
So when we take Communion, as we do on the third Sunday of each month, let’s gather quietly at the table with a few other people and take Communion in a group together. Let’s enjoy the sense of us being one body: it’s really very special! We need to take time over it, savour the moment and enjoy a little fellowship together. And always feel free to ask someone to pray with you if you want prayer.
As elders we want to serve you by ensuring Communion is a special, sacramental occasion and a powerful statement of belief, and not one that becomes artificially ‘religious’ rather than spiritual. And what can be more special to the Christian than a reminder of what Jesus did for us, selflessly, to bring us back to His father and to transform our lives totally. Let’s make the most of it!