What is the meaning of Holy Communion?

As we have been celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion during this Easter season, it’s a good time to reflect upon the meaning of the meal. It is appropriate for the Easter Season with an emphasis on the resurrection aspect of the meal. This is seen in Luke 24, when Jesus is walking on the Road to Emmaus with Cleaopas and his companion (likely his wife). They don’t realize that Jesus is the one walking with them. That is, not until they get to Emmaus, and insist that their travel companion stay for dinner. It is when Jesus breaks the bread that they recognize him. Likewise, we believe that in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup, something special and sacred happens. Jesus is made known to us in a unique way. The Holy Spirit is present in a special way. 

I hope that the summarizations below help you to have a more meaningful experience of Christ’s table.

Pastor Amy

 

Here is a summary of Laurence Hull Stooky’s book Eucharist. (That is the Greek word for the meal, and it means thanksgiving)

STRAFE- Sacrifice, Thanksgiving, Remembrance of Jesus’ death, Action of the Holy Spirit, Fellowship, and Eschatology.. The word strafe means to scatter widely. Communion is a way that God delivers grace.

Sacrifice– Christ’s life, death, and resurrection make God’s grace available to us. We also present ourselves as sacrifice in union with Christ (Rom 12:1, 1Peter2:5) to be used in the work of redemption, reconciliation, and justice

Thanksgiving: expressing joy and giving thanks for God’s acts in history: Creation, Covenant, Redemption, Sanctification

Remembrance: of Jesus’ death for us. A re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Christ is risen, and alive here and now.

Action of the Holy Spirit: John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Great Thanksgiving: “Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world that body of Christ, redeemed by
            Christ’s blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry with all the world.”

This meal nourishes and strengthens our faith. It sustains us through trial, tragedy, temptation

Fellowship: celebrates the body of the faithful coming together, reveals the nature of the church, and the model God would have for the world

Eschatology: looks to the end of time, and God’s purpose for the world, the Coming Kingdom that is already here, but not yet complete.

“Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”

Commune with those here, and with all the saints.

A foretaste of the future, a promise of heaven, “until Christ comes in final  victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.”

When we eat and drink at the Table, we partake of the divine nature in this life and for life eternal.

Anticipate heavenly banquet celebrating God’s victory over sin, evil, and death.

 

The Lord’s Supper (from A Disciple’s Journal, Year B  by Steve Manskar)

                  The Lord’s Supper combines prayer, Scripture, and the breaking of bread as a means of grace that has the power to heal and transform. “For Wesley, the Lord’s Supper invites an experience of faith which powerfully forms and shapes the affections, and a relationship with a God who freely gives God’s own self out of love for sinners.”” The sacrament tells the story of grace.

In it is found the story of God’s unlimited, universal, self-giving love for the world in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. In the broken bread and pungent wine the One who gave all he had, even his own life, to set all the world free from slavery to sin and death is re-presented. And, we are invited to become participants in God’s grand project of salvation, liberation, healing, and transformation for the universe.

The Lord’s Supper is an invitation to enter into the life of Christ for the world. It is a re-presentation of Christ’s life. “In the Lord’s Supper God is experienced as the one who promises in faithfulness. A response of loving gratitude is evoked for this promise of new life, a response of joyful hope is evoked for both the expectation of present transformation and the assurance of feasting with God in the future kingdom.” Christ’s offering of himself for the life of the world is an invitation for us to respond by offering us to Christ as channels of his grace in and for the world.

The Lord’s Supper is “food for the journey.” The bread and cup are offered to everyone who will receive it to fill them with the food they need to continue (or begin) their walk with Christ. In the bread and cup we take Christ’s body and blood into our own bodies and blood. He becomes part of us and goes into the world with us. His body and blood, re-presented in the bread and cup, connect us to all the generations of disciples that have gone before us. The Sacrament is our connection to Christ and the communion of saints who served as his faithful witnesses and passed the faith along from generation to generation. The Lord’s Supper gives continuity to our discipleship by connecting us to our history in Christ. It gives life to the body and the spirit as it conveys prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace.

John Wesley said “It is the duty of every Christian to receive the Lord’s Supper as often as he can.” It is a “plain command of Christ” and a way we are given the sanctifying grace that leads us into Christian perfection.

 

Comments are closed.