Sunday, 3 May 2015

Life for the Body: A Communion Exhortation

Communion - the communal act of sharing bread and wine in the gathered church, is often cast as a memorial act. We remember Christ's death, a past event. His body broken (the bread) and his life poured out in death (the wine).

But, when Jesus instituted this New Testament bread and wine ritual, (Lk. 22:19-20), he was catching up so much more of the Bible story, than we often appreciate. It's fundamental to remember Christ's death in the bread and wine, but there is much more going on. For Jesus didn't stay dead, as the angel said (Mk. 16:6, Lk. 24:6), he rose again. And that resurrected Lord of the Universe, comes to his church today, that he might fill her with strength and joy.

One of the pictures that the Bible uses to describe the relationship between Christ and his Church is that of Head and Body. Christ is the head, and we, the church, are his body (Eph.4:15, 5:23, Col. 1:18, 2:19). This image has many applications, but for our purpose here, it's significant because all life which the body receives comes through the head.

The energy the body needs from food in order to function properly, comes to it through the head from the mouth. The air the body needs to fuel all the processes that go on in the body, comes to it through the head from the nose. The information the body needs to act rightly comes to it through the head from the eyes and ears whether that be "Body get out of the way of that oncoming bus!" or "Body, serve this person in a way that Jesus would."

Christ is our head, he is our man in Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, and all that he, the head, receives now from his Father, he gives to his body - the church, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33).

Christ is our daily bread, (John 6:35) he is our sustenance, our strength for the road of life. But he is also our "wine", our joy giver, our celebration and our glory - bringing us into the joy of his Father (John 17:13).

So, the risen Lord Jesus, bids us to come to the communion table and as we remember in the bread, his body broken, somehow, mysteriously, Christ comes to be bread for us now and nourish us for the road of life. And as we remember his lifeblood poured out, again, somehow, mysteriously, Christ comes to us to fill us with his love, joy and life.

And all so that we, his body, might enjoy (worship) him and sacrificially serve his world until he comes again.