The older I get and the more I pastor the more I love Communion. Also known as the Lord’s Table and the Eucharist. If you’ve been to Crew you know that we observe it every week. It is a priority to us as followers of Jesus. Before Jesus died, he had a meal with a handful of his men. They were eating and during the meal he breaks bread and says,
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 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.”
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.
Communion is a vivid picture of the broken and bloody death of Jesus Christ. It is has the ability to remind us of Jeus death (past), force us to reflect on how we’re living in light of his death(present), and look forward to eating and drinking with the One who died (future). It is a powerful symbol to be observed regularly. At Crew, weekly. Rather than becoming rote and blah, I have seen it sharpen over time. No matter how out of sync a worship gathering may feel or how boring a sermon or tired a worshipper. Without fail, week after week as we pass the bread and a common cup, I watch as worshippers come alive to the gospel and its power to change us.
Now after that introduction. Yes that was an introduction. But here’s my story.
During communion we don’t just sit with our individual cracker and individual cup. We regularly call folks to get up and receive communion from elders as we pray for them. We have sung as the elements are being passed. As each individual passes the bread and the cup, they recite as a sort of creed, “Christ body broken for you”, “Christ’s blood shed for you”. We particpate as a community in this beautiful rite. I never fail to be moved. But a few weeks ago I was almost weeping during this time. One of our worship leaders was taking an ethics summer course at MU and in beautiful form made friends with a new Vietnamese student and invited him into his circle. He asked to go to church with Sean. And Sean said “No you have to get rid of your earring and tatoos and get a tie on and quit dipping Copenhagen”. NO!! HE DIDN’T SAY THAT!
Ok, back to my story. You have Sean sitting next to a fella who struggles to speak the language. A language that had been used to preach and sing. But when Communion comes around it in pictoral form presents the gospel. We talk and pray with each other during communion. So it is barely noticed when Sean starts talking to his friend who had tons of questions. I was sitting behind them and was able to hear Sean whisper things like, “I’ve done things to offend God. You have too.” “This bread and blood represents the death that Jesus died for our offenses”. “We receive that death for us by faith”. “Do you understand?” Absolutely beautiful. Sean and his friend are continuing their friendship. Crew is inviting him into our community and our faith. So pray for Sean and his friend. Pray for us. And rememer Communion isn’t just a cute little thing that Christians do. It is a proclamation of the gospel and at some level (I know the debate) conveys grace to those who receive it.