In the church in which I grew up (which observed Communion weekly), one of the elders would give his own special paraphrase to Paul on Communion: “The Scripture says that as often, not as seldom, as you do this, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes!” All kidding aside, I’d like to challenge you with this post to take every opportunity you are given to participate in the Communion service with your church. Why?
Two reasons: (1) It’s how Jesus wants to be thanked for his work of redemption on your behalf, and (2) it will bring you great spiritual benefit that you cannot get elsewhere in the same way.
(1) Thanksgiving is the central response on the part of the participant as Jesus is remembered: As we, through symbol, call to remembrance our great deliverance through Christ, we are driven to give thanks. Throughout the key texts concerning the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, 1 Corinthians), the giving of thanks by Jesus during the Last Supper is repeatedly depicted. He calls for remembrance and thanksgiving to be conjoined during the observance. Indeed, Psalm 6:5 associates thanksgiving with remembrance: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: In Sheol who shall give thee thanks?” Joyful thanksgiving should permeate the worship that occurs during Communion. Moreover, the designation of the observance as “the Eucharist” by much of the Church is thoroughly fitting in describing our action in the meal.
(2) What is the central benefit for the believer as he remembers and thanks the Lord in the Lord’s Supper? The central benefit is communion with Jesus the Christ who has been crucified. In the participatory experience of the Lord’s Supper, the believer enjoys a fullness of connection with the crucified Christ of which the apostles often write. The Scriptures in 1 Cor 10:16-17 state that the cup is communion with the blood of Christ and the bread, communion with the body of Christ. There is no hint of material change of the elements during the Lord’s Supper, for the Supper is a proclamation of the Lord’s death (1 Cor 11:26), a past event in history that is unrepeatable. However, the bread and cup are more than mere “signs” of fellowship, for Paul bases his admonition against participation in pagan sacrificial rites on the reality of the fellowship enjoyed in the Lord’s Supper. In other words, since we affirm and enjoy actual fellowship with Christ the Lord in the Supper, we are dividing our loyalty between Christ and idols when simultaneously participating in idolatrous feasts. In the Supper, we celebrate the benefits of his sacrifice that we enjoy, we also re-affirm our baptismal appeal for a clear conscience (1 Pet 3:21), the commitment to share in His sufferings, and our desire for the power of His resurrection life to be at work within us (Phil 3:10).
While there is the deepest fellowship available in the Supper, participation in the Supper does not bring about a relationship of communion with Christ that is automatic. It is the spiritual enjoyment by faith through material “signs” of a fellowship that is pre-existing for the believer. In coming to the Table, we come as those who have already been called into fellowship with Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:9). We have already put on Christ through baptism (Gal 3:27). Overall, the designation of this meal as “Holy Communion” by the Church is supported through strong Scriptural attestation.
I would love to know of any testimonies from readers of their experience of communion with God in partaking in this service. What spiritual benefits do you enjoy in your participation?