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Communion Meditations (2013)

Adjectives

 

Originally scheduled for December 8

Your author writes a communion meditation each week. As such, the research required often puts me in contact with various writers of previous centuries. There is a curious pattern which has emerged. Certain adjectives are used to apply to communion in a very routine way. We might take a look at these adjectives, for they tell us much about how people think about communion.

The first type of adjective might be described as “controversial.” By that I mean that the adjectives in question are meant to promote or settle (or both) a controversy.

·         For example, communion is sometimes described as “open”, or “mixed” or “closed.” Some churches welcome anyone who describes himself as a Christian. Others are willing to tolerate those from another congregation which practices the same rules and regulations. And some churches are unwilling to serve communion to anyone but registered members of the church. There are long and weighty arguments in favor of each of these options; but I hope it would stress to you that communion is not something which is taken trivially. It is a great and weighty matter about which people care deeply — and should.

·         Another example of the controversy will is something called “primitive” communion. As far as I can tell this means avoiding the little plastic cups, ignoring the possibility of bacteria and using a common cup and common source of bread. There are those who insist this is the only valid way in which one may have communion. There is a sense here of attempting to connect the church from its very beginning. It tells us that we belong to the same church Christ established almost 2000 years ago.

·         In some churches there is a celebration particular to the time when a person takes their first communion. Whether or not this is formally recognized varies, but it is of course a most important occasion.

A second type of adjective might be described as “possessive.” We hear communion described as being the “communion of the Saints” and even more commonly as “the Lord’s Supper.” Both of these stress the fact that communion is not something that we invented; it does not belong to us, in that sense. Rather it is handed down from the Saints and the apostles of old, at the command of Jesus, our Lord.

A third type of adjective describes the sacred nature of communion.

·         It is described as the communion of peace. By sharing this symbolic meal we promote peace within the brotherhood of Christians.

·         And most commonly, it is described as holy Communion. To be holy means to be set apart for the purposes of God. The great purpose of God in coming in the flesh was to be the sacrificial Lamb that brought our salvation. It is that sacrifice we remember in communion.

Whatever adjectives you use, communion is not to be taken lightly. All these things are weighty matters; therefore, examine yourself and take this meal in holy remembrance of Christ and his sacrifice.

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