Thoughts on Communion
by Paul Hazelden

This bread and wine, what is it?

- A meal

It is a meal. Not much of a meal, perhaps. But we will eat and drink together, just as the early Church did.

- A celebration

It is a celebration. We often have a meal together to celebrate something, someone's birthday, an anniversary, St Valentine's day. We use this meal to celebrate the death of our Lord. We celebrate His death, because He was dead and He is dead no longer. He has conquered death for us: we no longer need to be afraid of death, because in Jesus we have the victory over death. That is something worth celebrating!

- A reminder

It is a reminder. Jesus said, ‘Do this, each time you share a meal together, in remembrance of Me.' We celebrate His death, but we remember Jesus, the person. And maybe people will look at us and say, "This is strange - the early disciples could remember Jesus, because they met Him, they walked with Him down the road, they shared meals with Him - they could remember Him, but these people today have never met Jesus."

Oh, but we have. Christianity is far more than living a moral life, trying to be a good person, although that is important. It is far more than believing in a set of doctrines, although that is important, too. The important thing is not knowing things about Jesus, but knowing Him, following Him, serving Him, loving Him.

We are sharing this meal today, because we have met with Jesus. He said to you, as He said to Peter, "Follow Me!" - and whatever words you used, you said "Yes, Lord!" And since that day, He has been with you every step of the way, whether you were walking in obedience or not, He has never abandoned you. We know Him, and in this meal we remember Him together.

- A proclamation

It is a proclamation. Paul says, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." We proclaim His death and resurrection, and what that death and resurrection have achieved.

What are we proclaiming?

- Forgiveness

We proclaim forgiveness. Forgiveness through the blood of the one perfect sacrifice. Forgiveness, full and free, for every sin you will ever commit. We do our best to avoid sinning, not because we are afraid of being punished, but because we love Him.

- God's goodness

We proclaim God's goodness. How does God cause good to come out of evil? By choosing to die, by choosing to suffer wrong rather than do wrong.

- New life

We proclaim new life. Physical life itself is a miracle. How does something that is not you get transformed into you? We don't understand how, but this miracle happens each time we eat and drink. Just as food and drink are the source of our physical life - if we stop eating and drinking, we die - so Jesus is the source of our spiritual life. He is the true bread, that gives eternal life. We feed on Him, and live.

- Unity

We proclaim unity. We being many are one body, because we all share in the one bread. We are united, not because we all eat this physical bread, but because we are all joined to Jesus. He holds me, He holds you, so He holds us together. And not just us, but all those who have received his life, we are united with them in St Edyths and the Methodist Church, with all the Christians across Bristol. We are united in Jesus with all believers across the world. If they suffer, we all suffer, because we are one body.

Our responsibility

And as we eat and drink, we proclaim and celebrate all this, and accept our responsibility to live in the light of the truth we have received. To live in forgiveness, to live in unity with each other and all Christians, to live in sacrificial love for the world He died to save.

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