Here at Worle Baptist Church we welcome all who know and love the Lord (of whatever Christian denomination) to share with us in Holy Communion.
At our monthly Communion (normally a part of a regular Sunday morning service) we distribute pieces of (gluten-free) bread and small, individual cups of (non-alcoholic) wine. But what does it all mean? Under the following six headings, we take a good look at Holy Communion. (You might find it helpful to read the following account of what lies behind it: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
LOOK BACK (1 Corinthians 11:23,24) The night when Jesus was betrayed coincided with the Jewish celebration of Passover. This was when God delivered his people from cruel slavery in Egypt and in which the blood of a sacrificial lamb played an important part in the people’s salvation (see Exodus 12). The bread and wine speak of a new Passover (“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” 1 Corinthians 5:7) celebrating our deliverance from the guilt and lostness of our sin. We are forgiven people. And so, as we take Communion, we LOOK BACK with adoring gratitude.
LOOK WITHIN (1 Corinthians 11:27,28 and 1 Corinthians 5:7,8) Before Passover could be celebrated, homes were turned upside down to make sure that there was no yeast in the house. When yeast is referred to in the Bible it is often symbolic of sin. Before taking Communion we need to ‘turn ourselves inside out’ to make sure that all known sin is confessed and repented of. Before taking Communion we LOOK WITHIN and repent of our sin.
LOOK UP Jesus is the risen and ascended host at the table upon which the bread and the cup are set. It is he who invites and welcomes us as his guests. Communion is therefore not a commemoration of a dead hero, but a communion (or fellowship) with our living Lord. At Holy Communion we LOOK UP to Christ our Lord to be spiritually fed and nourished.
LOOK AROUND (1 Corinthians 11:29) The reason why the apostle Paul is writing to the Christians in Corinth about Communion is that they were getting it horribly wrong. Their relationships with each other were seriously out of order. Put it like this: A congregation unable to drink a cup of tea/coffee in loving fellowship together cannot truly celebrate the bread and wine of Communion. It would be gross hypocrisy. We are one body and so during Communion it is good to affirm one another as brothers and sisters in Christ making sure our relationships with each other are in good order. We LOOK AROUND in fellowship.
LOOK FORWARD (1 Corinthians 11:26) Holy Communion points us to the future with hope. The last book of the Bible (Revelation) refers to ‘the wedding supper of the Lamb’ (Revelation 19:9), the great banquet Christ celebrates with his (now perfected) church, united with him in joy for ever. Whatever issues we are now facing (and at the time of typing it is Covid-19), Communion invites us to LOOK FORWARD with hope. Christ is coming again to finish what he started!
LOOK OUTWARDS (1 Corinthians 11:26) ‘Proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes’ can be understood in two ways:
1) Proclaiming our faith to God – that we are trusting in the death of his Son alone for our salvation 2) Proclaiming our faith in Jesus’s death to others. Some people have been known to come to faith at a Communion service. It speaks powerfully of his death for us, and of our need personally to receive Christ for our salvation.
Christians are sent out into the world as Christ’s ambassadors. We are meant to LOOK OUTWARDS to the world. Michael Green (Christian speaker/writer/apologist) made the point vividly when he wrote that Holy Communion “is battle rations for Christian warriors, not cream cake for Christian layabouts.”