Originally scheduled for June 15
In the ancient church there was no concept of
bacteria and infection, as we know it. They saw no reason whatsoever
not to use a common cup and common loaf for their communion. Some of
the things that Paul says about communion assume this — and we may
draw some conclusions which would have been obvious to them but not
so clear to us.
First, they used a common cup. In that common
cup was, by the statement of Christ, the blood of Christ. It
contained the very forgiveness granted to all believers – at least
in a symbolic way. They would have seen it as a sign of unity; for
each of them had the same Holy Spirit. The common loaf would, to
them, have been an obvious sign of the unity of the body of Christ —
the church. One loaf would mean one body to them, because Christ
said “This is my body.” So you see that the early church would have
viewed communion not just as a memorial of the sacrifice of Christ
but also something which binds the church together.
We can see this today by the method in which we
invite people to take communion. Some churches practice “open
communion” in which they invite all who believe to participate,
whether or not they are formal members of that congregation or not.
Other churches practice “closed communion” in which only legal
members are allowed to participate. But all those churches agree on
one thing: communion is for the Christian only. Communion is common
among Christians, but exclusive of all others.
Today’s methods of using an individual cup and
a small piece of bread tends to make us focus on the relationship of
the individual and God. But the original intention was not “God and
me”; the original intention was “God and us.” By taking communion
you are proclaiming that you are one of us.
Therefore, it is important to remind you not to
take communion lightly. Christians are the most persecuted religion
on the planet today; that persecution takes many forms. Just being a
Christian will bring trouble; there seems to be no way around it.
Worse yet, those who would like to sit on the fence find that the
fence is composed of very sharp spikes. So you have to decide: are
you with Jesus, or not? By partaking of communion or refraining, you