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.