The following communion thoughts were delivered at the Southwest Church of Christ July 26, 2009.
It has become an inevitable part of my life, that I frequently find myself having conversations about faith. Just ask my wife. Every family gathering, every time we get together with friends, every time I have a lunch, or coffee with someone, and so on.
And as I find myself in these conversations with people I’ve only recently met or become friends with, and it becomes known to them that my particular family of faith is a Church of Christ, I get certain other inevitable questions. Among those asked are this one:
“Don’t you guys take communion every Sunday?” or some version of that. To which I reply, “Yes, we do.” You know what’s next… “Why?”
So why? Why do we gather here at this table every week? Is it only because of an early example in Acts 20? Or is there deeper meaning and purpose behind it?
Here is how I have learned to reply, something like this…
“The question is why not? I mean communion is basically a commemorative meal of bread of wine, body and blood, that memorializes the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Messiah. And we need that, don’t we? I mean we need to be reminded and to be shaped by that memory, don’t we?”
There are so many other things that shape our lives, and often we aren’t even aware of them. There is the Western assumption that “stuff” brings value to our lives, and so we are reminded by every commercial on TV, that we aren’t truly valuable until we own this or that. Then there is the assumption that we have certain rights that we must protect at all costs – if someone impinges on my rights or freedom, they become my enemy, and they have to die, or at least be jailed. Then there is the assumption that we are basically good people – that we live in a Christian Nation, and stand for justice and morality, so we stand before God, basically good and holy.
But the cross reminds us otherwise, doesn’t it? Doesn’t the cross remind us that our real value is found in Christ’s love for us, even while were still enemies of God? Doesn’t the cross remind us that love, not violence, is the only thing truly frees us? Doesn’t the cross remind us that we are broken before God, deeply sinful, and in desperate need of mercy?
It does remind us of all these things. And so we come to the table. And not just any table, the Lord’s table. And not just any Lord, a crucified Lord. And as we gather each week and reflect on this memorial, we somehow, through the power of the Spirit of Christ that dines with us, take the shape of the cross. As a community, by this meal, we take the shape of the cross – we become an alternative community. We become, like Christ, willing to serve the world in the way he chose to, to become humble, serving even our enemies, even if it costs us everything, because that is true love.
Those serving the bread will pass it now. Take a piece and hold it. After I bless it, we’ll take it together as a family.
Prayer for the bread:
Heavenly Father, we come to you humbly thanking you for this one true sacrifice. We ask that, as we reflect together on the cross, and the body of Christ (broken for our rebellion), that you work in us to shape us into a family that would love the world in this way. That we might somehow, through the power of your spirit, take the shape of our crucified Lord. And we pray, Father that this be our witness to the world and our faithfulness to the Way of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Please take the cup as it is passed to you.
Prayer for the wine:
Father, as we continue in prayer, we want to again thank you for the atoning work of the blood of Jesus. As we take this cup, Father, please remind us of our own sinfulness. More than that, remind us that we have been freed from sins power and grip, and that because of this blood, we are truly free to be your people. “O Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.” Amen.