Thursday night was the beginning of our District Assembly. As always the time of worship was fantastic and the message given by Dr. David Graves was very inspiring. But the highlight of the night for me was the sharing of the Lord’s Supper. It was the first time that I can remember that we participated in communion during the Assembly. Rev. Art Alexander did a wonderful job presiding over the sacrament of sharing the elements that represent our Lord’s broken body (“The bread from heaven”) and His spilled blood (“The cup of salvation.”) I sensed God’s Holy Spirit filling the room.
The Lord’s Supper was always meant to be taken in community. To share “communion” is to have community with God and with others. John Wesley said we should share in the Lord’s Supper as often as we can; every day if possible. It is not a private ritual but to be engaged in with others sharing the experience. That is why I no longer allow for private communion ceremonies during weddings. I am often asked by a bride and groom that they receive communion as their first marital act as a couple. However, they would like to take it alone without the rest of the sitting congregation to come forward to receive as well. (This is often done to save time). While I use to allow for this (and even did this at my own wedding!) I will no longer allow for private communion. Everyone gathered must be invited to share this sacred meal together. Communion: with God and with one another as the body of Christ.
I was keenly aware that we were sharing the Lord’s Supper with several hundred people, mot of them who I did not know. People of all different races and ethnic backgrounds. People whose primary language ranged from English to Spanish to Chinese to Korean to Indie-Pak to Philippine to a host of others. In addition, there were many people who we have been friends with for many, many years and it was sweet to share the sacrament with them, most for the first time. In that moment we were the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one- 23 I in them and you in me-so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is a ritual, but it does not have to be ritualistic. It is the life-giving instruction passed on from Jesus to the apostles to His church throughout history. It is not something we just go through the motions with but we are in fact spiritually and mystically, unified with Christ and each other. God’s grace is dispensed to us through this outward sign of His broken body and His spilled blood. The apostle Paul knew that the sharing of the Lord’s Supper was not only unifying to the body but a witness and protection against idolatry. In 1 Corinthians 11 he writes:
“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 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 share the one loaf.”
I was blessed to be with fellow believers of different races, different backgrounds, different perspectives, different political views, different worship traditions. But in Christ, we are one. Sharing the Lord’s Supper together unified us even more. Eating the bread dipped with our brothers and sisters in Christ was a taste of heaven.
What do you think?
How does this make you feel?