Summary: Too often Communion is simply celebrated as a moment in time, right now. This message looks at how communion looks to yesterday, tomorrow and today.
For Christians around the world the celebration of Communion is something we have in common. Oh we might call it by different names, and we might fight over how often we should observe communion, what actually happens to the elements when we receive them, and even over what we use for elements but there is a common celebration there. And whether we celebrate weekly, monthly or quarterly communion should never simply be something we do.
Shauna Niequist In her book “Bread and Wine” writes: “We don't come to the table to fight or to defend. We don't come to prove or to conquer, to draw lines in the sand or to stir up trouble. We come to the table because our hunger brings us there.”
We are told that during the Roman persecutions of the early church that the communion celebration was used to malign the church. It was rumoured to be a cannibalistic ritual, celebrating with the body and the blood. While others suggested the term “Love Feast” implied a celebration of a different type that happened behind closed doors.
And so for two thousand years Communion has been the central point of the Christian faith because it directs our attention to the sacrifice that was made for us and the grace that sacrifice has provided.
It was the night before he would be arrested that Jesus and his 12 closest friends gathered together to celebrate the Passover feast, something that each of them had been brought up celebrating. And during the celebration Jesus took the elements that were so familiar to them and he spoke the words that would become central to the faith of so many people. “Do this in remembrance of me”
That was the setting behind the scripture that was read this morning. And two thousand years later Christians all over the world still celebrate communion, in one form or another. Why?
Luke 22:19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”
We need to understand that Communion Points Us to Yesterday. This is probably the most vitally important component of the communion service the link it gives us with the past.
The main reason that Jesus gave us the communion service and the reason he insisted that we observe it on a regular basis, was because he knew how fragile the human memory is. That’s the very same reason that God instituted the sacrament of the Passover for the Jews twelve hundred years before the birth of Jesus, so that the children of Israel would always remember how He, God, had delivered them from the Slavery of Egypt.
It’s when we are called upon to look back that we remember. And as we participate in the communion service, as we eat the bread and drink that juice our minds travel back in time 2000 years to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that God made for us. You do realize that the sacrifice was made for you, not for someone else, but for you personally.
John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
But you know that really doesn’t say it all, does it? The phrase, “He gave his only Son” That doesn’t mean that God said, “Here’s my son, you can have him” Jesus came to this earth in the womb of a virgin; he was born in a stable and raised in a carpenter shop. For thirty years the creator of the universe lived as one of his created ones. For thirty years God lived as a mortal in an imperfect world. And in order that he could truly be the ultimate sacrifice for mankind he had to live as we live. I’m sure that there were days that his nose was stuffed up, and days that he felt rotten, and days he didn’t want to get out of bed. But he needed to experience the full realm of the human spectrum, from birth to death if his sacrifice was to be effective.
The gift of Christ however wasn’t enough to assure our salvation. In the Old Testament God had laid down the law and there he outlined the sacrifices that needed to be made when the law was broken. And the penalty for continually breaking God’s law was eternal separation from God. A just God could not go back and change the rules; he couldn’t change the laws and the penalties for breaking the law. But he could pay the price for us, and that’s what he did when he came to this earth. He came to pay the price for each one of us. He died so that we wouldn’t have to.