Tonight I have the privilege of participating in the Lord’s Supper with a group of friends. What makes this especially interesting is that we come from such varied traditions concerning Communion. Our community consists of people of Catholic, Adventist, Pentecostal, Anglican, Vineyard and Baptists traditions as well as no affiliation, and yet we will all participate together in the taking of the Bread and the Wine in celebration of all Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for us.
One of the great tragedies of the Protestant Reformation was that the movement was torn apart in numerous cases because of differences over how Communion was to be conducted. They also couldn’t come to agreement over the meaning of Communion or who should be allowed to partake in it. It is amazing that something as central to the faith of Christians should be one of the great dividing blocks in the Christian life.
Instead of focusing on the reality that Communion is the central tenant of the New Covenant, we find ourselves in debates over whether the bread should be broken or torn, do we use leaven or non-leaven bread, and whether or not children should be allowed to participate. And then if we figure that all out there is the matter of grape juice or wine. Then there are the Theological considerations that caused such clashes of minds during the Reformation and continue to separate us to this day.
Because of these controversies it amazes me that a group of people like our Wednesday evening Bible study group can get together and bond, not only with Christ through participating in the Lord’s Supper, but with each other. As I think back over our last year and a half studying the Gospel of John (and we are a far from finished) we have come a long ways in our understanding of finding common ground, not in all the doctrinal issues, but in our love for Jesus.
We are not a perfect group of believers by any means, but we have cried together, prayed for family and friends, shared our fears and have found support and comfort in each other. We have become friends.
Now there is the chicken or the egg thing. Did we become friends because of our mutual love for Jesus or because of becoming friends has our love for Jesus grown? Whatever the answer this diverse group of people are going to gather around Bill and Mary’s front room this evening and as the sun goes down across the river we will commemorate the love of God’s own Son for us.
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘take, eat; this is my body.’ And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ “ Matthew 26:26-29
Our little Bible study group gets it. Communion isn’t about our denominational idiosyncrasies or doctrinal stance, but instead, upon the acceptance that Jesus loved us enough to die for us and the result of our accepting the wonder of the cross is that we have forgiveness of sins.
When I take communion tonight it isn’t going to about the formula, ritual or how the bread and wine are given out, but instead it will be about Jesus. I will remember that I am a sinner saved by grace and saved through the blood of Jesus. I will remember that through this amazing sacrifice I am reconciled to the Father and my sins erased. I will remember that I am in communion with brothers and sisters who also love God with all their hearts, and even though we are all a far from perfect we are the children of God.
Through the Lord’s Supper we are introduced to the benefits and rewards along with the cost to God of entering into the New Covenant. Every time we lift the cup or eat the bread we are reminded of a never ending and enduring love that gave everything on our behalf that we may have eternal life, ever lasting joy and peace. And every time we participate in the Last Supper we know Jesus is present and rejoicing along with us.
The vast majority of you who read this blog I don’t know personally, but I feel a love for you and love from you because we are connected together through words. In a sense we are also community and this evening when I participate in the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine I will remember you as brothers and sisters in Christ. And though we are separated by miles, and in some cases by oceans, we are still one because of our common love for Jesus, the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world and, in their place gives us new life through His blood.
So, tonight wherever you may be, you will be in our hearts and part of our extended family of believers as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread, which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:47-51
* Please remember to pray for the Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. There is a great evil settling on this earth and we must be vigilant in our prayers and stay close to Christ. Our hope is in Christ and he is faithful to his people. Please take the time to read about what is taking place in the world around us at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…