What’s the Big Deal with Communion?
People in the first century wondered about that, too. In fact, there were rumors surrounding Christians in the early church that they were cannibals – because they would talk about gathering together to eat the body of Christ and drink his blood. To a watching world, it seemed very peculiar. But even today, the Christian practice of communion can seem odd – “Wait, we reflect on the death of our Savior by eating bread and passing around a cup?” Perhaps you yourself have wondered, “What’s the big deal with communion?”
Communion has long been the practice of the church. It was instituted by Jesus Himself the night before His death when He said (breaking bread), “Take; this is my body… (and taking up a cup of wine) This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:22-25)
For centuries, it has been a primary way that Christians remember and experience (to a certain degree) the death of Jesus. Though the particulars of how we practice communion vary depending on context, it has without question been a critical practice for followers of Jesus since His death.
So quickly, let me answer “What’s the big deal with communion?” by giving 3 aspects of what’s happening when we participate in this practice, theologically…
We remember. When we partake in the bread and wine (or juice), we are consciously and intentionally reflecting on the reality that Jesus Christ died for our sins. Let’s be honest, we are all really good forgetters. And when we practice communion, we remember our Savior who laid down his life for us (1 Cor. 11:24).
We fellowship. Communion is a symbol of grace. It’s a visible sign of an invisible spiritual reality. And yet, there is a sense in which it’s not only a symbol of grace, but an occasion of grace. Nothing is added to the finished work of Christ when we practice communion. Nothing. Nada. Zero. But when we participate in communion, we do commune with God in a way that deepens our fellowship with Him.
We anticipate. Communion points us to a future reality, when Jesus will “drink it new in the kingdom of God.” So when we make this our practice, we look forward with anticipation to that day. As the Apostle Paul says to the Corinthians, “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). So for the early church, and for us, communion is an opportunity to look forward to the return of Jesus.
In our rhythm here at Grace Fellowship, we practice communion every 4-6 weeks. Helping to serve communion is a wonderful way to be a part of what God’s doing in our church. Below is one story about that.
Matt Murphy, Lead Pastor
I remember watching the people serve communion and thought it must be such an honor to serve… thought you had to have special credentials to do that job! Then one Sunday in 2013, they needed a server and I was asked if I would be willing to help. Wow, I felt so special! I had no idea what to do, however, they showed me and it wasn’t hard (the hardest part for me was not spilling the juice!). As I have grown in my faith, serving communion has humbled me every time I serve. What a privilege!
One Sunday, to my surprise, someone who had asked for my forgiveness some years back, and whom I had forgiven, was sitting at the end of the row I was to serve. As I served them, we both got tears in our eyes. What a blessed day it was, and to think, if I wasn’t on the communion serving team I would have missed God’s blessing. I consider it an honor to serve the bread representing His body that was beaten and torn, and the juice, His blood, which was shed on the cross for my sins so I could be reconciled to my wonderful Heavenly Father.
I found out I didn’t need special credentials to serve communion, just a willing spirit. I’ve been serving communion for about eight years now. It is a way for me to give back to Grace and to serve Christ, but most of all it keeps me humble by reminding me what Christ did for me. There is just something about holding those elements in my hands and serving them to my fellow GFCers that is so humbling and satisfying. Serving communion has never become just something I do to help out. It remains a special honor for me to serve!
For more information about becoming a communion server, visit our Serve page and complete the form at the bottom (check the Hospitality box & type “communion server” in the comments field). Someone from the Hospitality team will contact you soon!