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Communion Meditations (2014)

In Common

Originally scheduled for June 15

In the ancient church there was no concept of bacteria and infection, as we know it. They saw no reason whatsoever not to use a common cup and common loaf for their communion. Some of the things that Paul says about communion assume this — and we may draw some conclusions which would have been obvious to them but not so clear to us.

First, they used a common cup. In that common cup was, by the statement of Christ, the blood of Christ. It contained the very forgiveness granted to all believers – at least in a symbolic way. They would have seen it as a sign of unity; for each of them had the same Holy Spirit. The common loaf would, to them, have been an obvious sign of the unity of the body of Christ — the church. One loaf would mean one body to them, because Christ said “This is my body.” So you see that the early church would have viewed communion not just as a memorial of the sacrifice of Christ but also something which binds the church together.

We can see this today by the method in which we invite people to take communion. Some churches practice “open communion” in which they invite all who believe to participate, whether or not they are formal members of that congregation or not. Other churches practice “closed communion” in which only legal members are allowed to participate. But all those churches agree on one thing: communion is for the Christian only. Communion is common among Christians, but exclusive of all others.

Today’s methods of using an individual cup and a small piece of bread tends to make us focus on the relationship of the individual and God. But the original intention was not “God and me”; the original intention was “God and us.” By taking communion you are proclaiming that you are one of us.

Therefore, it is important to remind you not to take communion lightly. Christians are the most persecuted religion on the planet today; that persecution takes many forms. Just being a Christian will bring trouble; there seems to be no way around it. Worse yet, those who would like to sit on the fence find that the fence is composed of very sharp spikes. So you have to decide: are you with Jesus, or not? By partaking of communion or refraining, you tell us.

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