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 first month we gathered for Communion we talked through how this symbolic meal should be done in and bring about a greater spirit of unity for those who partake in it. The second month we discussed how communion should not be entered into lightly, but rather we should enter into some examination of our relation to Christ and His body. In this final month we focused on the words of Jesus that Paul quotes in this passage: “do this in remembrance of me.”
At least that was the plan… we planned on talking about how Jesus calls us to remember what God has done in the past, what God will do in the future, and what you are doing be partaking in this meal. But this service was VERY COLD!!! I mean… holy cats. This was a cold service. (Hats off to Pat Harrington for being willing to lead us in worship while having to touch the metal strings on his guitar…)
Instead of fully discussing these ideas, I pretty much just put out an outline in hopes that the ideas would fill in themselves.
Considering what God has done in the past, I threw out the idea that the first communion took place at a Passover meal. This meal was designed to help the people of God remember that Israel had been saved from Death (either at the hands of the Egyptians or the final plague designed to encourage Pharaoh to set the Israelites free), and saved through Death (specifically the death of an animal in the place of the death of a person). This corresponds wonderfully to the thing that Christians are called to remember in the communion ceremony: the face that we have been saved from our own death, earned by us because of our sins, through the death of someone else in our place: Jesus the Christ.
Considering what God will do in the future, I threw out that Paul reminds those in Corinth, “26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Remembering that Jesus is coming back to set up a Kingdom where there is no sin, sickness or death is vital for every Christian. And communion should remind us that there will be a day that we can feast in the presence of the True King!
And lastly, we considered what we are doing… We are declaring the Lord’s Death and how it is saving us from and through death. We are declaring our trust in Jesus’s personal and glorious return.
Unity, Examination, and Remembrance… three huge tasks that are accomplished by such a simple meal of bread and juice.
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. remembering all that Jesus has done for us, 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.