The second sacrament that constitutes the Christian church has several names. When calling it Communion, we emphasize the fellowship we have with God the Father and each other through Jesus. Calling it the Lord’s Table emphasizes that we follow the example Jesus set at the Last Supper Passover meal he ate with his disciples. The name Eucharist (meaning thanksgiving) emphasizes thanksgiving and the joyful celebration of God’s work for us, in us, through us, and in spite of us.
The real issue is not the name but the fourfold meaning of the sacrament itself. It is a dramatic presentation that (1) reminds us in a powerful manner of the death of Jesus Christ in our place for our sins; (2) calls Christians to put our sin to death in light of the fact that Jesus died for our sins and compels us to examine ourselves and repent of sin before partaking; (3) shows the unity of God’s people around the person and work of Jesus; and (4) anticipates our participation in the marriage supper of the Lamb when his kingdom comes in its fullness.
Practically speaking, Communion is to be considered as participation in a family meal around a table rather than as a sacrifice upon an altar. Furthermore, it should be an occasion when God’s loving grace impacts us intensely so that the gospel takes deeper and deeper root in our lives.
Understood biblically, grace is unmerited favor or God’s goodwill,1 his helpful enablement for life and service,2 and a transformational power from the Spirit that brings blessing to us.3 Each of these aspects of God’s grace is inextricably connected to the partaking of Communion.
The sacraments are great gifts that help the church stay gospel centered, repentant, and on mission. In preaching, the gospel is spoken. In sacrament, the gospel is seen.
Have you ever partaken of communion? If so, when is the last time you partook of communion?