When we gathered during the summer and fall of 2020 to take communion in the Harrington’s back yard, we took a look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 from three different angles: Unity, Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner, and Remembrance. This series of blog posts are an attempt to allow those who missed the service to still interact with the teaching, just like they would if we were posting an audio file online at a later date. If you would like to read the passage for yourself, it is available at the bottom of this post.
The second way that we looked at this passage was to look at it through the lens of Taking Communion in a Worthy Manner.
Last month we looked at this passage through the lens of Unity, how communion was supposed to be an action that reminded the followers of Jesus of the unity that they share with each other because of their union with Christ. I think that this lens was the predominant one that was needed for the church in Corinth at the time Paul wrote his letter to them.
But by focusing on unity, we ended up skipping over some other ideas in this text! This month we are going to focus on verses 27-31 of this passage.
This section begins with the verse, “27 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.” While this verse may be a bit confusing at first glance, I think that the following verses explain how a person taking communion can avoid sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
Verse 28 encourages the individuals in Corinth to examine themselves. And so, I supposed we should do the same. What have we done to the physical body of Christ? While I may not have been alive, I know that it was to forgive my sins that Christ’s body was broken. My sinful actions have earned the consequence of the death of the Son of God. The wages of my sin was the death of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Grafted Community Church: what sins have you individually committed that sent Jesus to the cross?
Verse 29 warn that discerning the Body of Christ is of incredibly high value for those who are taking communion. I think we have the chance to consider not only what we did to the body of Christ, but what that body did for us. While Christ’s death did cover over my sins, it also brings me into the family of God. While my wages have been paid by Jesus, the gift of eternal life also came to me through that same death. While we sinned against God, He demonstrated His love for us by dying for us! Grafted Community Church: what have you received from God through the Body of Jesus, crucified on a cross?
Verse 31 encourages the church at Corinth to discern themselves… not as individuals, but as a whole community. A relationship with God cannot be separated from a relationship with His image bearers. My actions towards you, towards my co-workers, towards my family effect, reflect, and often damage the way we interact with God. Our relationships with God are only ever half perfect for sure… and that half doesn’t come from you and me… But, Grafted Community Church: What are some of the ways that your interactions with other people perpetuate the need for the Body of Christ to have been broken for you?
As we take communion today, after we each have the some bread and some juice, we are going to spend a little bit of time examining and discerning our relationships to the Body of Christ. and then we will once again take communion all together.
Does anyone need either of the elements? Please send up a representative from your family unit if you do one at a time. Everyone ready?
Here we go. I will give you a few moments between each question for your own reflection.
First: Examine yourself. What did YOU do to the Body of Christ?
Second: Discern the Body of Christ. What did the Body of Christ do for you?
Third: Discern Ourselves. What interactions with other people have you had that perpetuate the need for the Body of Christ to be broken for you?
The body of Christ broken for you. Everyone please eat some of your bread.
The Blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins. Everyone please drink some of your juice.
Please pray with me and I will invite Pat to please come up and lead us in a song of response…
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 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. 22 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!
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 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. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.