Jesus said of the bread, “This is my body.” But, of course, the Bible also declares the church to be his body. And so the communion loaf is a double symbol–the body consuming the body. It bears pondering just what this means.
I can’t pretend to fully understand this, but obviously there’s a powerful emphasis here on the church as a unity. We gave our individuality up when we were baptized into the one body.
We are now one, and the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of our unity–not that we are to work to one day be unified, but that we have been unified by the hand of God. Unity is a gift. When we act as though we are divided, we divide the body of Christ–which is, I believe, an unspeakable crime. It’s like re-crucifying our Lord.
Therefore, we cannot be true to the meaning of this ceremony while we are fighting and bickering among ourselves. Rather, we cannot truly proclaim the Lord’s death unless we are true to the meaning of his death–and one thing it means is that a united church is worth any price that has to be paid for it–even the death of Jesus Christ.
And if Jesus can give his life to bring a united church into being, surely we can crucify our pride, our love of feeling superior, and our arrogance on the cross. It would be a much cheaper price than what Jesus had to pay.
[Father, before we share in this feast, please forgive us of our sins–our divisiveness, our sense of superiority, our self-love, our condescension, our bitterness, our love of man’s praise. Help us surrender these things that seem so important to us but which are so very wrong, to hang them on the cross. Please free us from these sins and allow us to serve you as you wish–with humility and a servant’s heart.]
Notice that the communion is simple meal, the sort of meal any First Century peasant could afford and enjoy. It’s an humble meal, designed for an humble people. Despite our desire to present the bread and juice in gold trays decorated with crosses, the original thought was to participate in the simplest, humblest, plainest meal possible.
And so, as we share in this cup, let us commit to God–God the Creator of the universe–God who saves and damns and who truly knows our hearts–let us commit to be people who are like the meal we share–simple, humble, and plain. After all, we’ve been taught over and over, that in Christ, there is no room for boasting, only for humility.
[Father, please give humble hearts. Take our pride and superiority and cast them into the depths of hell so the rest of us can be saved. Teach us contrition and help us to see how sinful we appear in your eyes. And help esteem others better than we esteem ourselves. Help us to feel privileged beyond imagining to take this simple cup and share it with one another. Help us to be ever thankful for all our brothers and sisters who’ve you’ve joined us to.]