Thursday, September 06, 2012

Communion

[Note: This was an outline I used for communion one Sunday. Sometimes I just write things up to help me think and pray about them before I get up and say something]

Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26

The symbols

When we have communion sometimes we find ourselves simply going through the motions.  We’ve done it pretty much the same way for so many years we have come to think of the way we do it as a necessary liturgy or, dare I say, perhaps even a kind of incantation.  We not only miss the effect of the first supper given that fateful night two-thousand years ago, but we’ve lost its deeper significance.  Perhaps not “lost”, but maybe it has grown dim in the fog of familiarity.  We know that the wine represents the blood and the bread the flesh of our dear Savior (most of our children can tell us this much), but is that it?  Was that all the Lord was telling us:  This wine is my blood and this bread my flesh?

If I may say so and not seem overly cryptic, I believe we’ve lost the meaning of the symbols that the symbols themselves were pointing to.  That is, the bread and wine point to the flesh and the blood of our Lord, but what do the flesh and blood point to?  What do they mean?  What is their significance?   Was Jesus simply instituting another ritual for us to follow, with its own set of rules and procedures?  That is, replacing the old liturgy with the new liturgy?   No, I don’t believe so.  Jesus wasn’t saying, “Do it this way.”   He was giving us pictures by which we could remember something about that night that was far deeper th
an crude analogies.

The Bread

The bread represented his flesh, but what did his flesh mean?  I hear the words of the apostle John:

...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14.

But the bread was broken. When I break the bread I see our Savior’s back torn by the scourge, I see his beard ripped from his gentle face, I see the crown of thorns pressed down upon his head, I see the bruises left by the beatings, I see his hands and feet nailed to the cross and I see the spear thrust into his side.  All for me and for you.   

I hear Jesus say.

Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”  John 20:27.

Let us eat together.

The Wine

In like manner Jesus took the wine and said, “...this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  I remember strangely similar words spoken by the first prophet, Moses, when the first covenant was established at the mountain.  He said:

Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words. Exodus 24:8b.

The wine pointed to the blood of the new covenant by the new prophet, the Christ, but what does the blood point to?   The wine was poured out and I remember that my Lord sweat great drops of blood in the garden on the night he was betrayed, that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, that there are three that bare witness: the spirit, the water and the blood...my Savior’s blood.  I hear the words from heaven:

“Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?”

“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelations 7:13-14)

Let us drink together.