1. What the Communion Service announces
The Communion Service, as Jesus instituted it, reminds us as pilgrims in this world, the day we begun our journey with God, and the destiny we are heading to. Jesus said: “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:14 NVI). It is in that very moment when we remember that Jesus is who saves us. It is in this moment when we must remember what Jesus did for each one of us, just for you and only for you. It is the moment to look back and be thankful with the Lord. It is the moment for reviewing our life, and to find a new opportunity for repentance, a new chance to restart our life.
Regarding our destiny, this moment should address our sight to the future. Jesus said in Mark 14:25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (NIV). The Second Coming of Jesus, the meeting with our Savior and Creator it is the other landmark where this Communion service drives us. It shows us God’s compromise of His return to bring us with Him. This service is the remembrance of the promise of the final and definitive restoration of God’s kingdom for our joy, within a renewed world, like the wine we have for this occasion, fresh, non fermented, without sin, without yest.
There’s a text who worries some people, and saddens others. Satan knows very well the Bible and he misuses it for his profit and convenience. That text is 1 Corinthians 11:27 where Paul says: “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (NIV). No wonder if we ask ourselves oftenly if we deserve or not participating in the communion service. But we need to understand what Paul meant, within the context. To start, the Only Righteous is God, according to Revelation 15:4 “ Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy” (NIV). If ONLY God is Holy, that means we are not at all. If we have understood correctly the significance of Easter, and the Communion service who replaced it, we will understand as well that the sinners are those who need to participate of it the most, to claim the cleansing of sin by the blood of God’s Lamb.
So, what does Paul really mean? What is he talking about? We only need to pay attention to the precedent and following paragraphs. In the chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks about the yeast and Easter (Peshaj), and he clarifies that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish Easter. But nevertheless, Paul is addressing here one case of immorality, a very serious and public sin within the community of Corinth. Paul also refers to disputes among the church members, according to 1 Corinthians 1:11 and 3:3 saying there are “quarrels among you”. Paul points the sad fact of having a chance for peacemaking, there are those who do not take the opportunity to forgive, repair and conciliate. Those who act like this, have not understood yet what is the true meaning of Communion service, so their participation is questionable.
But in a more immediate context, in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 Paul refers to those who participate in the Communion service as if it was a common feast, a social meeting whose goal is just to eat and drink measurelessly, and drink to the point of getting drunk. You can get drunk with grape juice if it is too sweet and poorly preserved and you drink too much so it makes you sick for the excess and might ferment in the digestive tract, since the digestion takes longer than usual.
What happens in this kind of “dinners” is shameful to the point that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:17 “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good” (NIV). In the following verse (v. 18) he comes back to the divisions within the church, and in verse 20 to 22 he affirms: “So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!” (NIV). They had lost absolutely all the spiritual significance of this ceremony, and this just became a common banquet.
If you have come here today to participate of this service like “just” another religious ceremony, then I would say to you you are unworthy, as Paul said. But if you have come thinking you are unworthy because you feel guilty, then I say unto you: This Communion service has been prepared specially for you. This is the true reason of this service, to remind us that Jesus died for you, for us, to forgive you, to forgive us, and to comfort us with the promise of His second coming to this earth. The feeling of guiltiness doesn’t make you unworthy of these emblems, contrary, this shows us that we need these symbols more than anyone else.
If you say that you didn’t profit the week to self examine your conscience in order to come today with “unleavened bread” symbolically talking, this is the moment to confess your sins directly to the Lord. This is the moment to seek peace with your brother, sister, father, mother, son, daughter, neighbor, friend, whosoever is, and to restore the relationship. In Mathew 5:23-24 we find a similar situation:
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (NIV). Jesus did NOT say you should not participate, but to take a chance to profit the situation to restore and clarify the misunderstandings with others. Do not wait until the “next” occasion, maybe there will not be another one for you or the other person implicated.
I remember one church where I was a member, one person participated at the Communion service that particular day. He did it worthily, understanding the meaning of it. Right at the exit, when the service was over, he crossed the street, and a car ran over him taking his life. I am sure the Lord took him to the rest, clean, without a single thing to hide nor to fear. Will you wait for another moment to come that might never come? Take the chance today, reconcile yourself with your neighbor and with God.
(Exit to washing feet ceremony).