For the next few weeks we will be discussing Communion. Four aspects of Communion are central, necessary for us to understand if we profess faith in Jesus Christ. We will find that a study of Communion reveals:
1) The Command of Jesus Christ
2) The Provision of Jesus Christ
3) The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ
4) The Legacy of His Church
Last week we discussed the sacrifice of Jesus about Communion. This week’s reflection discusses the legacy of the Church, the body of Christ, as it relates to Communion.
The Church today, in addition to the foundational words and commands of Jesus Christ, looks to the forefathers of our faith, the early Church, for how we should carry ourselves as Christians. A brief review of the practices of the early Church makes it clear that there are certain traditions and practices that the early Church prioritized in their worship. Along with caring for the poor, the widow, and the needy, healing the sick, preaching the gospel, sharing what they had and baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the early disciples met together in their homes regularly and “broke bread.”
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
This breaking of bread can only mean that they stayed true to the command of Jesus Christ by continuing to practice the communion modeled by Jesus during the Last Supper.
More than a symbol of the obedience of the early Church to follow Christ’s commands, this is a holy reminder for us today that the members of the early Church strove to never lose the true message of their faith. They knew that they were alive because of Jesus Christ; to forget that or to overlook Christ’s central role in their lives was not an option. For them, seeing at the broken bread and wine reminded them that they were alive because Jesus Christ chose to be broken and bleed for them. However, when they ate the bread and drank the wine, the Christians were reminded of how much God had given them and how united they were with the Son and the Father.
The Church in its current form often fails to effectively embody the spiritual fruit of the early Church. Why? Among many contributing factors, the casual approach of the Christian Church to communion, and in some instances the absence of it altogether, has served to distance the Church from Jesus himself, making room for a more Church-centered model, as opposed to the Christ-centered Church that Jesus was broken and bled for.