23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Our church is called Bread and Wine Fellowship, and we observe communion as the final central culminating point of every service and the landing point for the message every single week. Communion is quite honestly our weekly altar call, the real point of every service. This means that I think about it a lot, because every sermon has to end up leading to the communion table. I wanted to share a few thoughts about why this is.
One clear thing that Jesus has indicated that His disciples are to do repeatedly and often is to take communion. As the Lord said, we do it in remembrance of Him, and we do it as a proclamation of the Lord’s death until He comes. In context, Paul assumes that even though they are doing it poorly, the Corinthian church is observing communion every time they meet. The idea that it is a remembrance indicates that it is a picture of something extremely important that we are likely to forget, and through repetition we are more likely to remember.
Communion: Simple and Universal
Communion is a simple teaching using common objects which involves sight, touch, smell, and taste. If you happen to be blind, it still works. If you happen to have a stopped up nose and can’t smell or taste, it still works. If you are well enough to eat a small amount and drink a small amount, you can observe communion. You don’t even have to be able to read to take communion. You can sleep through the whole sermon and still get the point of it all through communion. However they understood it through the ages, the raw message and practice of communion survived centuries of church services led in Latin that no lay person could even understand at all! It is the one simple universal message that transcends all of these conditions and endures as the central and eternal message of the church for all people in all places at all times.
Remember, We Always Need the Gospel
Some people have the mistaken notion that we experience the forgiveness of our past sins once at conversion, and then we are expected as new creatures in Christ to move forward in a largely sinless walk. For them, the focus shifts from salvation to sanctification, meaning that functionally and in our teaching and conversation, sanctification is more important than salvation. Maybe for some individuals this idea seems to work, and for other individuals not so much.
But communion tells a different message altogether. It says, time after time after time, through all of your senses and together with all the saints, at the behest of Jesus Himself, that you need to remember that the Lord died for our sins, and His work is for you. His work is also for those around you with which you are in close fellowship. Together as a community of believers, once again all is forgiven, and this forgiveness works for our specific group of individuals. It means that all of us, pastors and musicians and the righteous and the struggling and the young and the old and the rich and the poor and the intelligent and the not-so-intelligent, come together equally as sinners and partake equally of His lavish grace and rich mercy. It means we proclaim God’s beautiful righteous just wrath against our collective sin, and we declare God’s redemption and justification over all of our lives together. We declare the pain of God, in that we ask Him to embrace us, the ones whom He ought not to embrace.
Communion Defines the Church
It is this message which defines us, and reminds us that while we are not yet finished with our walk or our spiritual maturity, we are accepted and forgiven and beloved as individuals and together. We proclaim together that this new covenant in His blood is our true food, our common manna in the wilderness of the world. This is our center as believers, our altar call for new believers, and ultimately it is our evangelistic message. We remember and proclaim the Lord’s death. The Lord established this practice so that we would proclaim the pure gospel every time we are together, and that the gospel is a new covenant through His blood. This is the one true Christian message that ties us all together, and at Bread and Wine Fellowship we aim to make this our singular proclamation.