“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
One of the most special rites of the church is our regular celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar.
When we attend the Lord’s Supper, we use a very special word
for this action–we say that we “commune.” This is not a word that we use a great deal in our daily conversation. This may lead us to lose sight of the very special meaning this word has and what it expresses about our participation in the Lord’s Supper.
In Webster’s dictionary one finds the following definition for the verb commune: “to talk together intimately, to be in close rapport.” Rapport is defined as “a close sympathetic relationship, agreement, harmony.” We use this word with deliberate care because of the very special relationships that exist and are expressed in the Lord’s Supper. That simple word that we so frequently use expresses a great scriptural truth about the blessing of coming to the Lord’s Table.
The intimate message and the rapport which our Lord Jesus expresses to each Christian as he remembers the Lord’s death is a great gift of grace. We are engaged in a close sympathetic relationship with our Savior.
The Lord knows our need to be assured of His love and forgiveness. He knows this is our greatest continuing need throughout this earthly life. He sympathizes with our need and responds to that need with this Holy Communion. As we each eat that bread and drink that wine, we each wondrously receive–by the power of our almighty and gracious God–the very body and true blood which Jesus offered as the sacrifice for the sins of the world.
In the sacrament Jesus says: ” . . . given and shed for YOU for the forgiveness of sins.” We often hear how Jesus died for the world–and that is the most marvelous gospel message–but as often as we hear it, our flesh is still very capable of missing or even denying its individual application. As each individual believer partakes of the sacrament, Jesus comes to each one of us and we receive the most intimate assurance: “That sacrifice offered to God at Calvary included ME.” This brings me together with my Savior. This brings me together in peace and harmony with my God!
We do not, however, commune in a vacuum–we commune in fellowship with other Christians. We are sharing something that each of us holds dear in our hearts, which also binds our hearts as one. This is most evident when we commune together in public worship. As we approach the Lord’s Table together and there eat those consecrated wafers, we all eat of the same bread. Partaking of the same sacramental bread proclaims our unity as one body in Christ. We are not alone in our faith. We are not alone in our hope of eternal life. The power of the Spirit of our God unites our hearts, not only in public confession of the truth, but as the body of Christ.
In the sacrament we celebrate the unity we confess as we commune with one another.
Remember what a wonderful word we use to express the blessing which the Lord brings us in His Supper. We commune with our fellow Christians, intimately expressing our common faith in our Lord’s death, our agreement in confession, our harmony with one another, and a sympathetic relationship modeled after our own loving relationship with our Savior.
We forgive one another. We bear one another’s burdens. We commune — we are drawn close to one another by Him who draws us close to Himself.
What a treasure we have in this blest communion.
–Pastor Theodore Barthels