Summary: This message is to look at a basic understanding of Communion/Lord’s Supper,to understand why it was instituted, and what it means to us today.
The Lord’s Supper / Communion / Eucharist > it’s called by many names but they all refer to this time where we join together as a group of believers to remember what Christ has done for us.
In most Protestant churches it is one of two Sacraments (sacred rites); In Catholic and Orthodox churches it is one of seven.
It has been debated throughout the centuries. Is it open to everyone or just to local church members? Do we use real wine or grape juice? One cup or many? Is it really the body and blood of Christ or is it a representation?
I’ve even read of one group that was on a trip and during their worship time felt as if the Lord was leading them to take Communion together. Not having planned in advance for this, they found what they could to represent the “elements” and celebrated it with Dr. Pepper and potato chips. This was not their norm, but in that moment it represented their heart and passion for Christ.
Really there’s not a lot about it in Scripture. The only specifics we see are when Jesus instituted it in the Gospels and when Paul mentioned it while correcting abuses and missteps in the Corinthian church.
What we do know is that it arose out of the Passover meal that Christ was sharing with his disciples. The Passover meal was to celebrate God’s deliverance of Israel. It’s in the midst of this meal that Matt. 26 is set:
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matt 26:26-28 (NIV)
Scholars disagree on how often it was originally celebrated. Some say that the early church celebrated every day … some say every Passover … some every Lord’s day.
Today I want us to separate ourselves from the controversy and disagreements and see if we can come to a clearer understanding of what the Lord’s Supper is about and how we can best honor it.
>>> Prayer <<<
Set the scene: From the institution of it to the time Paul wrote to the Corinthians 20-30 years later, the Lord’s Supper had morphed into a party that was no longer representative of the original intent and purpose.
It was common in the Greco/Jewish culture to have big feasts, or what we would call pot-lucks, where everyone would bring something to the meal and then they would share this meal together. It was part of the culture of the Jewish feasts and it was part of the culture of the professional guilds of the day.
For the Christians it was called the Agape (Love) Feast. It was a great time of fellowship and sharing life in common as was described in Acts 2. But somewhere along the way, things got off kilter.
In Corinth, people would bring their food and eat with their friends. They would separate themselves based on wealth or class. Some would gorge themselves while others went hungry. Some would get drunk while others went thirsty. It no longer represented what Christ originally planned. So Paul writes this scathing rebuke: