Just A Ritual
Originally scheduled for February 12
A common difficulty in the church today is that communion is
considered “just a ritual.” If the biggest concern of those involved
is the speed with which they can finish the task, you’re probably
doing it the wrong way. Likewise if the details of the ritual are
more important than anything else — adult males only, wearing a tie
— you probably have the wrong focus. If you look at it is just a
memorial, with no real effect on your life, you are missing the
meaning of communion.
This is not a new problem. Paul had
this difficulty with the Corinthian church:
eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner,
shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man
must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and
drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks
judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this
reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if
we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are
judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be
condemned along with the world.
(1 Corinthians 11:27-32 NASB)
You can see the result. You “drinks judgment to yourself.” It’s
a self-inflicted wound. On the other hand, if you do it rightly
(dare we say, take it seriously) you avoid judgment. How do you do
You exercise self-judgment. This is why you were told to
examine yourself during communion, so that you will judge yourself
and take corrective action. Corrective action also goes by the name
of “repentance.” If you don’t do this, you face the judgment of God
— and His discipline. Don’t be afraid of that; discipline in this
context means something akin to saying someone is a “disciplined
athlete.” The athlete doesn’t fear the discipline, but embraces it.
So what should we do?
We begin by “discerning the body.” In this context it’s important to
remember the difference between what a thing is and what it is made
of. Communion is made of bread and wine/grape juice. Communion is
the body and blood of Christ. That’s a big difference.
Next, we judge ourselves. This is that self-examination which is so
frequently mentioned in communion meditations. But self-examination
alone is not sufficient; you must commit to repentance and then
Finally, accept God’s forgiveness for your sins. He gave us the
atonement so that we might have such forgiveness. Communion
symbolizes that for us.