Summary: Too many people in Church have never understood that HC is such a powerful mission event. In this celebration we don’t just proclaim Jesus we meet Him so the rail is the safest place on earth
The Sacrament of Communion
I have talked about many times how we encounter God in all things but also in specific things.
Our experience of love isn’t of love in general, but rather it is specific; like the affection & love of a child or parent or partner for instance. It is not the entire collection of art in the world that inspires us & moves us, but rather a particular piece that captures our imaginations. Similarly, we are not moved to tears of joy by music in general but by particular song or instrumental or voice.
So it is that though we can encounter God in so many different ways – the HC is a place where we encounter Jesus in special unique manner, just as He told us He would.
Of course, shared meals have always been important in the Middle Eastern way of life, & it is no surprise that Jesus often shared food & used those occasions to share the gospel. He met with the religious & community leaders & the outcasts.
Our celebration of HC obviously has its roots in the Jewish Passover celebration, & entered into Church liturgy early on. Paul writing as early as AD 55 – 67 in our passage gives the people of Corinth advice about how to celebrate communion. Clearly they are already in the habit of partaking of the Sacrament, though not in the right way.
I think the sheer fact that Jesus shared this meal with some of His followers on the road to Emmaus had a lot to do with it becoming so much part of the early Church life. It was only as He performed the tasks of taking, praying, breaking, & giving did recognition set in. I believe the breaking of the bread that day was not just about what had happened but what was happening then & there.
John Wesley our great fore father believed that people could continue to experience these moments of the penny dropping as they entered into the Sacrament, & I do too. You see this event we celebrate is not just about re-enacting or commemorating; it is about retelling & taking part in that once for all event for ourselves. It is about what God is doing now not just what He did then.
Different people see the sacrament differently, which is why are there so many different for what we call HC. I want you to understand a little about the why because these things, these traditions are too important for us to just ignore.
Our attitude to HC reminds me a little of the old story I heard years ago of a child asking her mother why she cut the ends of the Sunday roast each week. The mother said well because my mom did it this way & her roasts always tasted so good. The next time her the child was with her grand mother she asked her the same question, & got the reply ‘well its because my roasting pan was too small’!
Just because we always have isn’t good enough if we don’t know why.
So lets look quickly at the 3 most commonly used terms in our Church.
Holy Communion is the name used since the reformation that is common in Anglican & Methodist circles, & the one we use most here.
The one I grew up with as a young Christian was The Lord’s Supper or Breaking bread. Both used across the Free Church, i.e.: - Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal.
The final popular name is Eucharist which comes from the Greek word eucharistia meaning thanksgiving. This gained popularity in recent times because it is a more neutral word without some of baggage - quite a bonus in ecumenical circles.
For me though the name we use is of little importance so long as we celebrate together & do what Jesus asked us to. Remembering that we are retelling & encountering God in a real way. Not the real presence of the Roman Catholic’s but the real presence of the Risen living Lord Jesus meeting us in bread & wine, as on bended knee we humbly, yet boldly meet our God.
Then at the close of our passage Paul tells the people they better be doing this for the right reasons – a warning against abusing the HC.
1 Corinthians 11:27-29 is a passage I want you find & look at in your bibles if you have them with you. In my NRSV probably the most accurate translation it says this