Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Like baptism, communion (sometimes called the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist in Roman Catholic tradition) is a tradition that Christians have practiced for thousands of years. Unfortunately, its meaning has been the topic of many debates and the source of many divisions.
While baptism is the initiation or “birthday” into God’s new covenant family, communion is the ongoing “birthday meal” picturing believers’ union with Christ and His church. Baptism is intended to be a one-time celebration. Communion is a celebration meant to be repeated again and again. One pastor has said, “Baptism is one becoming part of the many. Communion is the many being reminded of our oneness.”
As a non-denominational church, without a governing authority over us or centuries of specific tradition to guide us, we do our best to faithfully read the text of Scripture pertaining to the meaning and practice of communion. We don’t have one tradition to point to for help, but many! Some of us come from traditions that rarely practiced communion. Others come from traditions which practiced it weekly. Some believe Christ is physically present in the taking of communion while others believe it is only a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice.
What seems clear is that when Jesus first instituted this practice with his disciples, it was the time of the Jewish Passover when the Israelite nation remembered and celebrated God delivering them from slavery in Egypt. Each family was saved by the sacrifice of a lamb, its blood placed over the doorway of the family’s home. Those homes covered by the blood were spared death and Pharaoh released Israel from her bondage to freedom for the Promised Land. As Hebrews celebrated God’s deliverance, so in communion we celebrate God’s deliverance of us from sin and death.
Second, in the New Testament passages dealing with communion the emphasis seems to be on communion as a memorial to Christ and his work. Though communion is primarily a remembrance of Christ, we believe God also supernaturally works through this sacred act to empower and bring spiritual formation to His holy people. In communion God uses tangible, physical elements to work spiritual realities in His physical-spiritual people.
When do we celebrate communion at CC?
As often as possible! Recently we’ve been observing communion weekly. This has not always been the case. Though we don’t promise we practice it weekly, we are committed to doing it more often than not. Could we ever celebrate and remember our union with Christ and one another too often? We think not.
Who should participate in communion?
All those who trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord and are repentant of their sin. We welcome guests and non-members to join us in communion, so long as they are believers in Jesus and members in good standing at another gospel believing church. As a matter of historical precedent, we believe that participants should be baptized before celebrating communion.
What do we do in communion?
We look up in adoration. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we remember God’s mercy and grace as the loving Father sent His beloved Son to die on the cross for sin.
We look back in commemoration. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we remember that Christ came into this world to save sinners. He lived a life without sin, yet He was rejected by His own, beaten and ultimately killed for our sake. Through His death, Jesus paid the penalty for sin and liberated those who trust in Him from the bondage of sin.
We look forward in anticipation. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we are eating and drinking in anticipation of the great marriage supper of the Lamb, where a place has been reserved for all those who belong to Christ’s family.
We look outward in proclamation. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper our action proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
We look inward in examination. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we reflect upon our own lives, asking the Holy Spirit of God to expose our own sins, so that we might come into the presence of Christ with clean hands and pure hearts.
We look around in consideration. Whenever we eat the Lord’s Supper we are forced to look around at our brothers and sisters in Christ being reminded that we are sitting at the table as a family.