Moving On…to our first Communion

One of the things I miss about not ‘going to church’ is the corporate fellowship and the various yearly and ecclesiastical rituals which the local Body enjoys. One of those is the Communion or the Eucharist.

Growing up, I had never really participated in one, except for the various Fifth Sunday services at the Winbourne Baptist Church (SBC), during my late teen years. The holiness church which I attended never had one for whatever reason. When I arrived in West Virginia, at my previous congregation, we had one service a year at New Year’s. I often inquired, with no good answer, why it was at this time of the year and not at Easter. I mean, if you are going to do it once a year, why not during the time in which it was inaugurated.

So, this Sunday, after being impressed about it, my wife and I have decided to have a small communion service ourselves. Granted, I would rather have a corporate service, but this will have to do.

No, I don’t intend to sit out the corporate experience for the rest of my life, just waiting. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean, you know?

I am reminded that the early Church practiced the breaking of the bread, which I interpret as the Eucharistic service, everyday. And look how they grew in unity.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity- all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Act 2:42-47 NLT)

Further, it is a command of the Lord to do so.

So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (Joh 6:53-56 NLT)

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

Mark my words– I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Mat 26:26-29 NLT)

And from Paul –

For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”

In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people– an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.”

For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. (1Co 11:23-26 NLT)

From Ignatius, a disciple of John and Peter with knowledge of Paul and Matthew –

“I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” (Letter to the Romans 7:3 ).

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 ).

From Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, a disciple of John –

“If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?” (Against Heresies 4:33–32 ).

“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?” (ibid., 5:2).

Tertullian –

“here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed , in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands , that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God” (The Resurrection of the Dead 8 ).

So, this Sunday, my family and I will have our first breaking of the bread.

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10 Replies to “Moving On…to our first Communion”

  1. For a few years now, whenever I take Communion I say to myself ‘May the Body of Christ bring me tor everlasting life’ and ‘May the Blood of Christ bring me to everlasting life’. These are the words a Catholic priest says silently at the Altar during Mass when he receives Communion, and I started to say them also. It is a prayer of healing for me.

    Communion is, i think, the main reason I still sometimes go to Mass, as the Church I go to each Sunday has Communion once a month.

  2. I dont like that the NLT translates breaking bread as the Lord’s Supper in Acts 2:42-47. I’m not convinced breaking of bread is the Lord’s Supper, and from Paul’s words, I’m not convinced it was celebrated daily (they had to come together for it and some would be drunk).

    But apart from that, I enjoy remembering that God sent Jesus to be our sacrificial lamb, to suffer and die for our sins. This is what celebrating the Lord’s Supper does for us. But the wine and bread are not actually blood and flesh, as drinking blood was forbidden. It is the work of Christ that bring us to heaven, not bread and wine.

    http://wbmoore.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/the_lords_supper_eucharist_and_wine_body_and_blood_of_christ_or_analogy/

    1. I disagree about the Lord’s Supper in Acts. If you take a look at the usage of that phrase, in Greek and in the local dialectic, you will see that Luke uses it to point to the Communion meal. Plus, we have to consider when Paul was writing, he was writing 20 years after Pentecostal and no longer just to Jews, as the Pentecostal story has, but to Gentiles as well. I would except that things that slowed down a lot by then, and perhaps to the detriment.

      Further, I do believe that the bread and the wine is the body and the blood, but not in the literal sense. It is not a mere symbol, but a command. Plus, we know that it has nothing to do with salvation only that as a remembrance which we are told to do until the return of Christ.

      I think that if we look at the eschatology of the early community, we find that they were looking forward to Christ coming, but as the NT writings developed, that anticipation slowed somewhat. So, the very symbol which causes us to look towards the 2nd Coming might have been regulated to a different setting than an everyday thing.

      I find that we should be put in constant remembrance not only of the body and the blood, which was shed for us, but so too that Christ is returning. I see this as a draw to community, which the early Church seemed to have in abundance, and we sorely lack. And why? In my opinion, they had this community, this communion, this fellowship, because daily they were partaking of the communion with Christ and with each other, reminding each other of the Apostle’s doctrine and that Christ is coming once more for His People.

      We also know that the primitive Church saw the communion table as something sacred and vital to the community.

      Communion=community

        1. Transubstantiation would be the Literal sense, WB, so no.

          The bread and wine are still just bread and wine, otherwise, we must maintain that the Cross was little more than show since Christ broke the bread and poured out the wine before the Cross.

          Rather, the bread and the wine represent the reality of the situation. The bread represents the reality of the body which was broke for us; the wine represents the reality of the blood which was poured out.

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