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Communion Meditations (2014)

Common Things

Originally scheduled for December 28

A point of dispute between various denominations concerns the number of rites that are officially proclaimed by the church. This may not seem much of a problem to you but consider this: is a marriage performed in the church something official, endorsed by the church? Or is it just simply that it’s convenient to get married in a church (preferably, your own). A similar discussion could be held concerning the conduct of a funeral. But there are two rites which are pretty much universally acknowledged across all denominations of Christendom. One of these is baptism; the other is communion. Churches vary in how they conduct a baptism; similarly, many vary in how they conduct communion. Some think these differences are very important. Some think they are merely historical tradition.

These two particular ceremonies have some purposes in common.

·         One purpose is that they unite us. We all take the same communion, just as we have all been baptized in the same way. This is important, Christ commanded us that we should be one as he and the Father are one.

·         Another such purpose is to mark those who are in the church and those who are not. This applies across various denominations.

·         Finally, another such purpose is to make us recall, from memory, the experience that we have. We stir our memories in order that we may strengthen our faith. Sometimes it’s good to go to a wedding ceremony so that you might be reminded, much more than taught.

We see these purposes in the taking of communion. We share a common cup; we share a common bread. This unites us, for in truth we know that it’s hard to be mad at someone and throw them out while you’re sharing dinner with them. It also serves the purpose of marking those who are believers. It is common in preparation for communion to warn those who are not Christians that they should not partake of this meal. The distinction between those who believe in those don’t is here made very sharp.

Perhaps most important of all communion stirs our memories. The symbolism is quite clear: the cup is his blood, the bread his body. So it is that we are reminded that Christ died on a cross. Instead, he was buried in a tomb — and rose again on the third day. It is the most extraordinary event in human history. It turned the world upside down. And even at 2000 years of time we celebrate this. We need to be reminded much more than we need to be instructed. This is our reminder of how great a salvation has been given to us through the Cross.

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