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Leading the Church

Communion

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Understanding and Implementing Communion. Communion means we are to Celebrate the Lord's Supper/Communion. This was instituted by Jesus on the night before His Crucifixion. He told the Disciples that the cup of wine...

Understanding and Implementing Communion

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:26-28

Communion means we are to Celebrate the Lord's Supper/Communion (Isa. 52:15; 53:12; Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Cor. 11:20-25)!

This was instituted by Jesus on the night before His Crucifixion. He told the Disciples that the cup of wine (most Protestants now use grape juice; however, the type of element is irrelevant to the obedience of the statute) represented His own blood, shed to establish a new covenant between God and humanity. The bread represented His body, broken on our behalf. Thus, when we partake of the Lord's Supper, we meet Christ and become present with Him (Omnipresence of God) in remembrance of His atoning death and sacrifice on our behalf, and look to the fullness and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. Calvin said, "We are given a taste of Heaven."

There is debate amongst denominations as to whether the elements of bread and wine are actually Christ's body and blood (Catholics call it transubstantiation), physically added in to the elements (Lutherans call it consubstantiation). Christ is not physically present because His body is in Heaven; however, beliefs are that He still is really present (Calvin-Reformed), or partially present, or, it is just a memorial (Zwingli-Baptists).

The Lord's Supper also pointed toward the consummation of the Kingdom of God. At first, the Communion was a part of a gathering for a meal in private homes (1 Cor. 11:17). Over time, it became a part of the Sunday worship of the local church. To the Catholics, this became the focal point of the service, observed toward the end. The first parts were the reading of the Word, prayers, singing of psalms/hymns, intercessions, and a homily (the Reformers switched to the sermon as the focal point).

Why do we observe Communion?

· We observe Communion because the Lord told us to. And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11:24

· When we observe Communion we show our participation in the body of Christ. His life becomes our life and we become members of each other:

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

· In observing Communion we are remembering Christ and all that He has done for us in His life, death and resurrection:

And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 1 Corinthians 11:24

· In observing Communion we are remembering that we are a part of a new covenant paid by His life, death and resurrection:

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. 1 Corinthians 11:25

· In observing Communion we are proclaiming our allegiance and faith in Him until He comes. It is, then, a statement of faith:

For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26

· When observing Communion we take time to examine ourselves:

A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:28

Primary Scriptures Associated with Communion:

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:26-28

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." Mark 14:22-24

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." Luke 22:19-20

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:24-26

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:53-54

© 1988, 2004 Rev. R. J. Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org

More info from "About.com":

Three main Christian views regarding the blood and the wine during the practice of Communion:

  • The bread and the wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. The Catholic term for this is Transubstantiation.
  • The bread and the wine are unchanged elements, but Christ's presence by faith is made spiritually real in and through them.
  • The bread and the wine are unchanged elements, used as symbols, representing Christ's body and blood, in remembrance of his enduring sacrifice.

From "About" http://christianity.about.com/od/faqhelpdesk/f/whatiscommunion.htm

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