31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
October 3, 2021
1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Around the world today, Christians are sharing bread and matzoth, tortillas and Pop tarts?
Can you eat Pop tarts for communion? Not according to my worship professor in seminary. In his opinion, only bread and red wine were acceptable.
What do you think? Are only bread and wine or bread and juice acceptable for communion? I think two years ago, many of us would have answered ‘yes’. Yes, you need bread and juice or wine to celebrate communion.
So much has changed in these last two years though and it is likely we are never going back to exactly the way things were. We have been invited to examine and even question so many of the ways we have always done things. And when it comes to our faith, this is a good, good thing because it is in the questioning, the wondering that we grow in our relationships with Jesus Christ.
So have you ever wondered why we, as followers of Jesus, gather together to eat a little piece of bread and drink a little cup of juice? Beyond Jesus telling us to do this, have ever wondered what communion was all about? Let’s be courageous; ask the questions; and grow in faith.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communion as an act of sharing. Communion is an act of sharing. The dictionary definition goes on to say, communion, with a capital “C” is “a Christian sacrament in which consecrated bread and wine are consumed …. as symbols for the realization of a spiritual union between Christ and communicant.” That is a really complicated way of saying Christian communion is the awareness of our connection with Jesus Christ. (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/communion)
Bread and wine, bread and juice, they are symbols of love to remind us that once upon a time and in every time, Jesus is saying to us – this is my body given for you, shared with you. This is the new covenant, the new agreement made by God with humans through the sacrifice of my blood, because of God’s unconditional love for every person.
Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we are to remember that Jesus is the bread of life, that Jesus satisfies our needs and hungers when everything else leaves us empty. Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we remember, “Whoever comes to [Jesus] will never be hungry, and whoever believes in [him] will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
In this symbolic meal, we are filled. All of the broken cracks in our hearts, all of the longing holes in our lives, they are filled by Christ’s love. They are filled by a connection with Jesus, by communion with Jesus.
And so it doesn’t matter what we use to celebrate this meal. It could be milk and cookies. It could be soda and popcorn. It could be water and saltines or even coffee and a cinnamon roll. What we use to celebrate this holy meal of communion isn’t as important as the fact that we celebrate it, that we remember that Jesus provides for our every need. What is important about communion is to rejoice that we have a God who loves us so much that God was willing to sacrifice God’s own self for us.
I love the way this online church article said it. In communion, we celebrate the gospel, that “Jesus was broken for us so that we can be fixed by Him. Celebrating communion marks the story of Jesus, how He gave Himself completely to give us a better life, a new start, and a fresh relationship with God (1 Peter 3:18). It’s not about a ritual to revere, but a person to worship. Jesus is less concerned about the method of celebrating communion and more concerned that we celebrate it.”
Jesus is less concerned about our method of celebrating communion and more concerned that we celebrate it. That we come together and remember Jesus; That we come together and are nourished by Jesus; That we come together and connect with Jesus.
Communion is a celebration, a celebration of our relationship with the God of love made known to us in Jesus Christ and a celebration of our relationship with each other. Communion is celebration and communion is sharing.
And as Christians gather worldwide around Christ’s table to share in this holy meal of connection and love, we will use different items for our communion meal. And that is okay. God does not insist we be of one mind and be of one heart.
The Apostle Paul, after this teaching about communion, goes on to say that we are different, like different parts of a body. We will come to the table in different ways with different emotions upon our hearts, and we will share in this meal in different ways.
We are one in the Spirit though. We are one in Christ’s love, and that is what we celebrate – that although different and not always united, we put aside those differences to connect with God through Jesus Christ; we put aside those differences to connect with each other; we put aside those differences to eat and drink at Christ’s table.
So while it doesn’t matter what you use for communion, I hope you will use something that reminds you to celebrate, something that makes you joyful, something that nourishes you, something that reminds you of God’s love made known to us in Jesus Christ, something that reminds you of the bonds we share with other Christians, something that reminds you that a relationship with Jesus Christ fills us up and makes us whole in a way nothing else can.
As we gather at Christ’s table today, may we have the courage to celebrate, sharing our hearts with Jesus and with each other, rejoicing in the good, good news of God’s unconditional love.