Feb 7, 2013

Communion Is Not An Individual Exercise

This is the fifth post in a bi-weekly five part series. It is inspired by the book of 1 Corinthians and my studies of that book. Posts will have appeared here and on A Deeper Church. Read the previous posts in the series:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

They learned first the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine in Paul’s eighteen months with them. It was a symbol, a reminder, a representation of the Truth they had come to believe. It was entering into not just union with their Savior, but communion. A meeting. A joining together. The Spirit, the Son, and the Father reaching out to one another as hands reached out for bread and goblet.

And though bread and wine were staples in their homes, they did not mean the same when digested and imbibed alone, apart from one another. Bread and wine commingled and traveled down the esophagus, melding together in the stomach. But there was no communion. It was just a meal. But together, in those early days, together it was the Body of Christ come alive in their midst. As the Spirit of God indwelt each of them individually, the Spirit reached out to itself from with each of them. Communing with itself as they communed with one another.

At that table, with bread and wine and a God who had saved them, who was saving them, who would save them still, they entered into communion. Yes, through the sharing of bread and wine because his body was broken and his blood was shed. And they entered into communion because they were community. They were the Body he left on earth to point others to the body that hung on a cross. To the body that death could not hold. To the body that destroyed death forever for all who would believe and put their faith in him.

And so they communed.

But when bread and wine become food and drink, and tallies are kept of who brought what and if they brought the best wine and the tastiest bread, or simply what they could afford, communion withers and the table becomes a place of judgment. When bread and wine and body broke and blood shed become tools for division, there is no communion.

As we read that they sat and ate and drank, not sharing but withholding, not in communion but in disunion, dividing, not abiding, I cannot help but think of our own communion tables. Of goblets and loaves, of plastic cups in gilded trays and paper-like wafers that stick to tongues as words of reminder, words of communion, words of body broken and blood shed are poured out over us, calling us together. Do you feel it? Can you hear it? That longing of the Spirit within you crying out for Itself, crying out to Itself through walls we have erected to keep us from those who do not commune as we do? Or simply the longing to commune beside another body as we the Body take and break and eat and drink as individuals?

Spirit cries out to Spirit as we attempt to commune with the Savior alone.

But we were never meant to commune alone. Unity with one’s self is simply an individual. One. One person. Alone.

But if we are to be like him, to commune with him, then we must commune with each other. We must be united with him, in him, and with one another.

Because his body was broken, yes. His body was broken so that this body of broken sinners turned redeemed saints might never have to experience that breaking.

Let us break bread and drink wine.

Let it remind us of the breaking of his body so that this Body might never be broken.

How does your church take communion?
Do you take communion alone or with others?
How do you practice communion with the Body?


Aaron said...

My friend preached on this passage in much the same way as you present it, it was the first time I had heard it this way and certainly the most powerful and beautiful. We find unity in the practice of communion if we want to find it there and we find equality, for the body was broken for you the same as for me. This develops a theology that goes beyond communion. If our churches reserve the best for our Sunday potluck and then give the canned food nobody wants anymore to the poor in our Church or community then how are we reflecting a table prepared equally and shared with and for all.

Communion allows us to unite in active thanksgiving, remembrance, and participation with the church, all the way back to when Jesus broke the break, and then was himself broken. Do this in remembrance 'that this Body might never be broken.'

Haley Cloyd said...

"That this Body might never be broken." That line gets me every time. God has given us ways to show our union with Him, and when, as we do with communion, we take it out of community, it loses something of what it was intended to communicate. I think we lose even as the people who observe our individual sacrament taking lose. The shift make sense, because communion with one another is difficult, but difficult or not, I think we all suffer more loss than we might in the midst of the challenges that community presents.

Emily Wierenga said...

beautiful, friend. thank you.

Haley Cloyd said...

Thanks for reading, Emily. And you are welcome. :)