This past Sunday we celebrated "the Lord's table," or as we sometimes call it, "communion." I've often wrestled with this question based on past experience and theological tradition, "Is communion a dirge or a celebration?" I've come to the conclusion that in some sense it is both.
Communion is a dirge because it observes death. We can't overt our eyes from it's gory symbolism and tragic reality. We are eating bread that symbolizes a body being broken by beating and crucifixion. We are drinking the fruit of the vine that symbolizes the life-blood that was poured out of the veins of our incarnate Savior. Not only that, but the death he died was required because of our sin. We trespassed on his glory-land, not just before we were saved, but long after - even this week.
And yet, these are the very reasons why communion is also a celebration. It is a remembrance that through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus, we total forgiveness. We are spiritually feasting on his eternal life-producing sustenance as we remember his gospel. He is the bread of life. He is the vine in whom we abide. Communion is the celebration of our access point to every spiritual blessing that is in Christ.
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us...”
In him WE - Communion is all about that word “we.” The very word implies community and union. We aren’t redeemed merely to have a one-on-one relationship with God. We are redeemed to become part of the people of God. We are united together in Christ, and communion is the reminder of the cost that was paid to purchase that union. Allow communion to be the catalyst for restoring relationships.
...have REDEMPTION through his blood - Communion is all about what Christ did to achieve our redemption: His body was broken for us, His blood is the blood of a new covenant where we can have a right relationship with our God.
...the FORGIVENESS of our trespasses - Communion is a time to confess our trespasses. We remember that our sin is an offense… a trespass… against God. We have crossed the line and encroached on his territory. Our sins are something for which Christ had to die: the blood of the perfect spotless lamb had to be shed so that we could be forgiven. And it was.
...according to the riches of his GRACE which he lavished on us - Communion is about the grace of God. When I was a teenager, I used to think that if I didn’t confess my sins just right before I took communion, that God was going to be angry with me. I thought that communion was a time to beat yourself up over your sin so that God would be pleased. Let’s just say that I didn’t understand the riches part of this verse God’s grace. I didn’t understand that God is not angry at us when we come to the communion table. He is inviting into relationship with him as we feast at his table. He is saying, "Yes, even those sins that you committed since the last time you were here are covered by the blood of Christ. You are redeemed. You are forgiven. You are in Christ."
What place does communion have in your heart? What role does it play in your life? The next time we partake of communion together, make sure to both mourn your sin and enjoy the blessings that are yours in Christ!