The first Sunday of every month is a day of celebration and excitement for me. Why? Because it’s the day when most churches partake in Communion, a.k.a., “Eucharist”. Although I’m not sure everybody “gets” what it’s actually all about. I mean, it’s not just a free meal, and it’s not just a coming to the table, or the partaking of the bread and grape juice…in fact, Communion is about SO much more. Let me explain:
First of all, in old days (Old Testament times), when a nation wanted to wipe out somebody completely, they’d make it so that even their name wasn’t remembered. But at communion, Jesus (and His name) is to be remembered.
Second, in the culture at Jesus’ time, people mostly just ate with friends, and their friends were often peers. But Jesus’ friends weren’t peers. And the fact that He ate with sinners and outcasts, expresses Jesus making friends with them at meal-fellowship. It also points to the eschatological age (the end days), when the outcasts will be (and are now) invited to eat with the Lord, as friends.
Speaking of outcasts, let’s take a look at the motley crew and outcasts that Jesus chose to associate Himself with regularly: the 12 Apostles. Other than the fact that Peter and Andrew had the same parents, neither of the 12 really had anything in common…I mean, you had fishermen (religious rejects), a tax collector (scum of society), a Zealot (believed in forceful conversions), 2 guys with really bad tempers, and a thief (in charge of the money, no less), just to name a few. Bottom line, if not for Jesus, you’d never have seen them together. But that’s the point, for the only thing they had in common, was, Jesus. And after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, it was Jesus who held them together even as friends.
So in the same way, taking communion together brings us together at the table as friends, and as siblings in Christ, as we join the Lord at meal fellowship. So even if we have enemies, they become friends when we have fellowship with them at the table, because it’s sharing at the table with them, and also because it’s sharing at the table with them in the presence of the Lord, as HE eats with us, too. It’s really pretty deep when you think about it…especially when you recognize how important meal fellowship is to the Lord. For example, in Revelation 3:20, Jesus tells the struggling Church, “look, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me.” Eating at the table with Jesus, in fellowship.
Now let’s look for a moment at the word, “Eucharist”: “Eu-Charis-t” “Charis” in Greek means “Grace”. So the Gentile Christians at that time couldn’t even say the word “Eu-Charis-t”, without being reminded of the Grace of God that bound them together as the Body of Christ (maybe that’s why they call the prayer before meals, “saying grace”?) I also heard a story once about how the early Church believed so strongly in the Body of Christ, that after one house church would partake of the elements, somebody would take that same loaf and cup to the next house church, so that they too may partake of that same loaf.
I loaf, 1 cup, 1 Body.
So taking communion is not only partaking with other believers, but also with Christ. The Last supper was the last time that Jesus would eat food on earth (before His death). So it’s suggested that when we partake in communion in remembrance of Jesus, not only are we remembering Him, but actually eating WITH JESUS at the table…as His friends, with His friends…together.