Friday, April 27, 2012

Communion...through the eyes of a stranger

One of my best illustrations for my post yesterday is the practice of communion.  Many of us read about the Lord's supper in the Gospels and most churches practice communion based on the one passage where Jesus is giving instruction. However, when people who understand the Jewish culture read it they see a bigger picture...They see more than just the words on the page.  In their culture it is expected that the reader knows and understands the full story.

What we call the Lord's Supper was actually introduced during a passover meal.  (Hence another reason why Jesus was called the Lamb of God.  He was our passover lamb.) That is right, it was actually a meal.  It wasn't that Jesus just pulled out some bread and wine and decided to give the disciples a souvenir of Himself, but rather He shared in the midst of a meal that was already taking place.  Side note:  This is that at this same time He talked about being a servant and washing each others feet, yet that is something that is often over shadowed when we carry out our communion.

Anyway, after Christ's resurrection, churches still participated in a time of communion but it was much different than how we see it today.  Paul talks about it in several of different letters where he addresses people abusing communion.  When reading these passages I cannot come to the conclusion that communion is limited to these two sacraments.  Rather, my reading leads me to believe it continues to be a celebration and a feast.  The Jews celebrated a time in which they were "passed over" in the same sense that we can "passed over" as well.  This is what the churches were celebrating.  They were remembering what they had come from and how they had been saved. Which should be the same for us.

I wonder then why we have separated ourselves from this so much.  I don't think we have entirely left behind the praising of what Christ has done for us and replaced it with a somber act of remembering, but our view of what communion should be is drastically different than that of the early church.  While they were out having a "party" we are drinking juice and eating a tasteless cracker.

I'm not saying we have it all entirely wrong. I think communion the way we do it has a significance and importance, but honestly I would love to see us do communion similar to that of the early church.  Bring in a large pot luck to share with everyone.  Make amends with those who have hurt us.  Ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged (both of these are often left out of many churches when they do communion).  Communion should be a time of bringing the body of Christ (the church) back into unity....back into like-mindedness....back to remembering that Christ's body was broken for us, that His blood was shed for us, that He conquered the grave, and defeated death so that we could be back in communion with God.

I'm not going to say that we are doing it wrong....I just want you to think about it.

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