Originally scheduled for March 26
Noah Webster, in his original dictionary, gave
as the first of the definitions of communion these words:
1. Fellowship; intercourse between two
persons or more; interchange of transactions, or offices; a state of
giving and receiving; agreement; concord.
We might well then ask, how does Communion
promote communion within the church? What is its role in tying us
together as one church? I submit that the answer is found in the
fact that to take communion is to proclaim certain beliefs. It is
the union of those who believe these things, who also proclaim these
things, that ties the church together. So what are these things we
proclaim in communion?
First, by taking communion you
proclaim that you (and all the rest of us) are a sinner. If you are
not a sinner, you do not need a Savior. But if you are a sinner,
there is only one true hope. By taking communion publicly you
proclaim the baseline fact that you are a sinner.
Second, having proclaim that you are
a sinner you acknowledge that you are in need of a Savior. You
cannot save your self by any means. You not only proclaim that you
are in need of a Savior; you proclaim that you have found Him. You
are stating that you have taken Jesus, the Christ, as your Savior —
and as your Lord.
Third, you also proclaim the Lord’s
death. You are stating that he died on a Cross for the sins of
humanity. You are stating that he is our atonement sacrifice, by his
death at Calvary. It follows logically that if you proclaim the
crucifixion, you proclaim the resurrection as well. This is the man
who rose from the grave just like he said he would. He is the one
who has conquered death, and in so doing offers eternal life.
You do this, finally, until he comes
again. That means you are proclaiming the second coming of Christ,
the resurrection of the dead, and the great Judgment to come. You
proclaim this not as a casual matter of fact, but something of
eternal importance: you will live eternally with Christ.
These things are not proclaim casually, nor are
they of any triviality. Indeed, they are the most astounding facts
that a human being can assert. In doing this you acknowledge the
divide in humanity: there are those who are sinners saved by grace,
and those who are going to Hell. There are those around us, often
friends, who are too proud to consider themselves sinners. They
therefore see no need for a Savior. If you mention the crucifixion,
they find it rather distasteful. And their only response to the
second coming is, “why isn’t He here yet?” So our message is not
particularly welcome in many minds.
That’s the problem with proclaiming the truth;
it’s often unwelcome despite the fact that it really is Good News.
Since this proclamation is so important, we should do it with a
clean heart so that those who observe know that we really mean it.
To prepare yourself for Communion, examine your heart. Is there
anyone you need to forgive? Anyone who needs to forgive you? Before
you proclaim the unity of the church in taking communion, forgive
and be forgiven. Then you will be an honest witness to the facts
which are proclaimed in Communion.