Communion is a precious time in the life of a believer when he is focused on remembering and giving thanks for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. This time is also known as the Lord’s Supper. Since Communion is a shared experience with fellow believers the word Communion is a good descriptive word for the activity. In some churches, this celebration of the Lord’s Supper is called the Eucharist which means to give thanks for the elements as Christ did at the original Lord’s Supper celebration.
The gospel accounts of the Lord’s Supper talk about the events surrounding the celebration (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:17-25; Luke 22:7-22; and John 13:21-30). In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul the Apostle gives instructions on preparing for and taking Communion. He starts out by explaining that Communion is a sacred time and that it should not be considered a lighthearted event (vs. 18-22). The focus of Communion is to remember the Lord and thank Him for His sacrifice. It is not a normal meal where the focus is on the food. 1 Corinthians 11:27, 28 “Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
What Paul says in these verses about not taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily is reason for us to consider taking proper preparations before the celebration of Communion. While this is not a sad event in the life of a believer it is also not a time for frivolity. It should be a serious time of reflection for every believer.
The actual details of Communion change from church to church since there is very little said in the Bible about exactly how it is to be done. However, what is common is that there is a communal taking of the elements which are typically unleavened bread and grape juice. This information comes from the gospel accounts of the Lord’s Supper mentioned above.
The unleavened bread represents the body of Christ. It is unleavened because in the Bible leaven is a picture of sin. Jesus took the bread, prayed over it, broke it, and shared it with His disciples telling them to remember Him when they took Communion with one another.
Though the Bible speaks of wine as the liquid that was consumed during the Lord’s Supper, our church uses grape juice. The word for wine in Greek is the same word that would be used for grape juice. And, as grape juice is a non-fermented (unleavened) version of wine, we feel it is more in keeping with the idea of unleavened bread. Jesus too took the juice which represented His blood, blessed it, and shared it with His disciples.
The elements remind us of the sacrifice that Christ made for us when He died on the cross. Christians should spend time beforehand meditating on God’s love and what our salvation cost Jesus when He gave Himself for us.
Examining Your Heart
The passage that deals with the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians gives a little more insight into what our attitude should be during Communion. Paul mentions that the Lord’s Supper should not be taken unworthily. This is a new insight that is not included in the gospel accounts. There are many explanations as to what Paul meant by this, but they all center around taking Communion with a clear conscience before God and remembering the great sacrifice of Christ for our salvation.
Dealing With Sin
When preparing to take the Lord’s Supper we need to confess our sins to the Lord. Take time before the Communion service and examine your life to make sure there is nothing hindering your fellowship with God. Think of it like washing your hands before you eat; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
Communion is a celebration for Christians. Therefore, ensure that you are a child of God. Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? If you know you are saved, then participating in the Lord’s Supper is an appropriate activity. If you are not saved, then please take care of that today. Those who partake of the Lord’s Supper should be both saved and baptized since baptism is the first command that the Lord gave us following salvation.
Though you are saved, you may still have unconfessed sin in your life. You should deal with that before the Communion service. Christians have been forgiven by God from the punishment of their sins. However, not acknowledging your sin and confessing it to God will cause a lack of fellowship between you and the Lord.
Beyond causing you to feel less connected with the Lord, living with unconfessed sin goes against Paul’s warning of taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily. Christ sacrificed His life for your salvation. You acknowledged that when you got saved. It is honoring Him and His sacrifice when you confess your sin and keep a clean account with God.
Partaking With Thanksgiving
Now that you have confessed your sin, you can participate in the Lord’s Supper with thanksgiving. Jesus thanked God for the elements they were about to receive. At the time the disciples did not seem to understand everything that this special meal with their Lord meant, but they could see that Jesus Himself was thankful to God for the upcoming events. Jesus knew what His death would bring to His followers.
Today we can take Communion with thanksgiving. While it is a serious time of personal reflection, it should also be a time of great joy and thanks to God. Again, that is where the term Eucharist comes from. It is from the New Testament Greek word that means thanksgiving or gratitude. This gratitude should still be a serious time according to Paul in 1 Corinthians but it doesn’t have to be a sad time.
Compare the Lord’s Supper to celebrating a wedding anniversary. It is a time of thanksgiving and remembering your first love and how you came together. It is also a time of renewal. It is an opportunity to reconnect and renew your commitment to each other. Anniversaries are a celebration of love and commitment and that is what the Lord’s Supper is for as well.
Communion at Ohana
We practice “Close Communion”, as opposed to “closed” or “open” communion. “Closed Communion” limits participation to only church members in good standing. “Open Communion” accepts anyone who wishes to participate. “Close Communion” is open to those who are saved and baptized and members of Ohana Baptist Church or a church of like faith and practice. If you have any questions about whether you should participate, contact Pastor.
Specific Steps you can take:
- Review your salvation experience. Take time to share it with someone else.
- Review the Scriptures about salvation and what Christ did for us. Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.
- Take time to examine yourself, asking God to reveal any sin in your life. Psalms 139:23-24
- Confess your sin to God. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Get right with others in your life. Matthew 5:23-24, Mark 11:25-26
- Meditate on the goodness of the Lord and the blessings of God in your life.