Communion Does More Than We Realize

One of the things Connie and I appreciate about the church we attend is that we get to receive the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. It never gets old. It does not devolve into an empty routine. We are glad for the fellowship of the local church in the expression of our common faith.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The Lord’s Supper confers bodily fellowship and communion with the Body of the Lord whom we receive, and through it the bodily fellowship with the other members of his Body.” Christians of all denominations the world over meet around the Lord’s table in remembrance of his sacrifice for our sins.

I read about a church leader whose ministry took him around the world. He said he received Holy Communion three Sundays, one after the other, on three continents — Australia, Asia, and Europe.

“The first service was a Methodist one held in a cinema in Sydney, Australia. The second service was in the historic Carey Memorial Baptist Church in Calcutta, India. The third was in the glorious Anglican sanctuary of Westminster Abbey in London, England. … I was equally at home in each of these services, in spite of differences in tradition and distance.”

The famous British evangelist George Whitfield testified to the same sentiment. In America he sought the opportunity to worship and observe communion with evangelical Presbyterian, Baptist, and independent churches. He did this because in some of the churches of his own denomination, “Jesus Christ was not preached in the church.” He enjoyed sharing communion with brothers and sisters in Christ of other traditions because of their common faith in the gospel.

The Lord Jesus established the Supper to remind us of his sacrifice for us. His apostles knew he wanted his people to come together for this purpose on a regular basis. This is because the Lord’s supper is effective. It does something. We come together for thanksgiving, for confession,  for renewal of our faith, for restored relationships and for remembrance. More than anything, we come to the Table to meet God, to receive his love and forgiveness. In prayer we come to God. In the Lord’s Supper he comes to us.

Thomas a Kempis said, “In this Holy Sacrament God can do more than we can understand.”

What does it do? Communion pulls us, however reluctant we may be, out of our selfish individualism and isolation. It draws us into the awareness that as believers in Jesus, we are part of his spiritual Body, symbolized by the “one loaf” (1 Corinthians 10:15-17).

It brings us back to the cross, reminding us of of the sacrifice that redeemed us. I think this is what it means to “discern” the Lord’s physical body (1 Corinthians 11:29). To discern is to recognize and to remember.  “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

To whom do we proclaim it? To ourselves, to each other, and to the world. And, I might add, to the invisible realm of angels and evil spirits, we proclaim the Lord’s victory over evil and death itself.

So, it is really important that Christians meet regularly to observe communion. How regularly? The Bible gives no explicit instructions about that. But I am glad Connie and I get to do it every week.

Pastor Randy Faulkner