For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 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.” 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 (NRSV)
Last time I wrote about the overall order of service here at Marshfield Christian Church, and how our worship services are constructed to remind us of the life and ministry of Jesus. During that discussion I noted that it would be difficult to provide a full picture of the “why” of communion. It’s too big of a topic to discuss. And, it’s too important. Communion deserves its own attention, so that’s what we are going to do this time around.
Take a moment to look at the four verbs that I’ve used as the title to this article, take, bless, break, and share. Now, notice that is what Jesus does as he celebrates the Passover meal that we know as the Last Supper. Jesus takes the bread. Jesus gives thanks, or offers a blessing. Jesus breaks the bread. And finally, Jesus shares the bread with his disciples. Then he follows the same pattern with the wine, except instead of breaking he pours the wine. (It’s pretty hard to break a liquid…)
Now, think for a moment about how our worship is structured around communion and the offering. First we take the offering. Then we bless the offering, the bread, and the cup with prayer and meditation. Next we break the bread and pour the wine as we distribute the elements. And finally we share as we hear the words of institution and partake of the elements as a community of faith.
I don’t know about you, but I love how our worship is rooted in the story that we proclaim. It makes a deep connection between our witness and our worship. But, unfortunately, we don’t often realize that beauty. It is the flower planted by our driveway that blooms and we don’t see it because it’s always just there.
So, not only do we remember Jesus’s life, teachings, death, and resurrection in the words of worship, we remember the opportunity for a new and renewed life in Christ in the very flow and form of our worship. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a beautiful and meaningful thing. And, I hope you will notice and appreciate the thought and reflection that goes into something that we often take for granted.
And, since summer is quickly approaching and that often means a time for traveling, I hope you will take note of the order of worship at any congregation you might visit. If you choose to visit another church during your travels this summer (and I hope you would), please bring back a bulletin (if they have one) and let me know what worship was like, and how you felt about the service. I’m always interested in how other churches worship and hearing from you is the best way for me to get those experiences.
I look forward to remembering the life and ministry of Jesus with you as we worship in word and in deed, in spirit and in truth!