Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Eucharist: Giving Thanks

On Wednesday, Duane asked me to lead Communion at the weekend service.  At first I didn't know what he was asking, and then I kind of just said, "Really?"  I was stunned.

It's Sunday morning, and I still don't know if I'm going to say yes.  I don't know why I'm so cautious about these kinds of things.

I've taken Communion once a month every month since I was about eleven.  If you calculate my age and the number of months, that's a lot of times.  (I've probably missed it a few months, but there have also been months when I took communion more than once.)

I have directed communion in a life group, but I've never done this in a larger group.  In fact, I rarely speak in front of large groups.  It's not that I'm afraid or anything, but I just don't.

At any rate, and of course you know this is going someplace, I've been thinking about Communion and what it means and why we do this every month.

Communion is a celebration of what Jesus did for us.  It's a time to give thanks for his sacrifice on the Christ.  It's time to give thanks for gifts we receive because of that sacrifice.

I enjoy these gifts every day, the privilege of entering into God's presence through prayer and worship, the joy of having the Holy Spirit active in my life, the comfort of knowing that God loves me and sees me as his child.

Nevertheless, it's easy to forget that we only enjoy these gifts because of the cross.  None of this is possible unless Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Some groups of Christians call Communion, the Eucharist.  This word comes from the Greek word for "thanksgiving."  When we take communion, we are indeed giving thanks.  As Paul puts it, we give thanks because Christ's sacrifice "rescues us from the dominion of darkness and brings us into the kingdom of the Son."

We must never forget that we would still live in the dominion of darkness, separated from God's presence, if Christ had not willingly given us life for us.

And so this tradition has been passed on from Jesus' generation to the first generation of disciples and on and on through history to us.  Indeed, Jesus himself, instructs us to remember, to share in this tradition with Christians all over the world throughout history.

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says:
I passed on to you the tradition the Lord gave to me.  On the same night the Lord Jesus was betrayed, He took the bread in His hands; and after giving thanks to God, He broke it and said, "This is My body, broken for you.  Keep doing this so that you and all who come after will have a vivid reminder of Me."
After they had finished dinner, He took the cup and in the same way said, "This is the new covenant, executed in My blood.  Keep doing this; and whenever you drink it, you and all who come after will have a vivid reminder of Me."
 Every time you taste this bread and every time you place the cup to your mouths and drink, you are declaring the Lord's death, which is the ultimate expression of His faithfulness and love, until He comes again.  The Voice Bible
When we take Communion, when we celebrate the Eucharist, giving thanks for all that Christ has done, we must remember all that Christ death means for us.

In dying, he takes our place.
In dying, he gives us life.

In dying, he rescues us from the powers of darkness and delivers us into the Kingdom of Love.

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