Originally scheduled for December 28
A point of dispute between various
denominations concerns the number of rites that are officially
proclaimed by the church. This may not seem much of a problem to you
but consider this: is a marriage performed in the church something
official, endorsed by the church? Or is it just simply that it’s
convenient to get married in a church (preferably, your own). A
similar discussion could be held concerning the conduct of a
funeral. But there are two rites which are pretty much universally
acknowledged across all denominations of Christendom. One of these
is baptism; the other is communion. Churches vary in how they
conduct a baptism; similarly, many vary in how they conduct
communion. Some think these differences are very important. Some
think they are merely historical tradition.
These two particular ceremonies have some
purposes in common.
One purpose is that they unite us. We
all take the same communion, just as we have all been baptized in
the same way. This is important, Christ commanded us that we should
be one as he and the Father are one.
Another such purpose is to mark those
who are in the church and those who are not. This applies across
Finally, another such purpose is to
make us recall, from memory, the experience that we have. We stir
our memories in order that we may strengthen our faith. Sometimes
it’s good to go to a wedding ceremony so that you might be reminded,
much more than taught.
We see these purposes in the taking of
communion. We share a common cup; we share a common bread. This
unites us, for in truth we know that it’s hard to be mad at someone
and throw them out while you’re sharing dinner with them. It also
serves the purpose of marking those who are believers. It is common
in preparation for communion to warn those who are not Christians
that they should not partake of this meal. The distinction between
those who believe in those don’t is here made very sharp.
Perhaps most important of all communion stirs
our memories. The symbolism is quite clear: the cup is his blood,
the bread his body. So it is that we are reminded that Christ died
on a cross. Instead, he was buried in a tomb — and rose again on the
third day. It is the most extraordinary event in human history. It
turned the world upside down. And even at 2000 years of time we
celebrate this. We need to be reminded much more than we need to be
instructed. This is our reminder of how great a salvation has been
given to us through the Cross.