Why do we have communion at church?
In our All Age spots this term we’ve been thinking about why we do various activities at church. We’ve thought about why we sing, pray, and give. Last week we thought about why we have communion at church. This is important for all of us in the church family.
Firstly, communion is a gracious gift from Jesus, along with baptism, that illustrates the significance of his death on the cross. Baptism symbolises the effect of the cross in washing us clean from the stain of sin. Communion illustrates the horrific events of the first Good Friday. Nothing happens to the bread and wine, the Apostles never confused the bread in Jesus’ hands with his body, or the wine with his blood. It remains bread and wine. But it is more than a graphic sermon illustration, as real as the bread and wine are to taste is as real as Jesus’ death in our place, it is a visual, physical, emotional action that unites us in a deep and real way with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
In communion we do three things:
- We look back – we remember what Jesus went through, on our behalf, almost 2,000 years ago. It happened, it’s an event of history. We should remember.
- We look up – as we eat the bread and drink the wine we’re connecting spiritually with Jesus as he rules all things from God’s throne room. It’s not magic, but, as we eat and drink, we’re relating to Jesus on a deep and intimate level.
- We look forward – we’re reminded that Jesus is coming back to bring in his perfected, completed and fulfilled kingdom.
So, who is it for? All Christians in good standing – if you’re a committed Christian, then communion is for you. Communion isn’t something to be glib about, it’s for those who are disciples who are trusting in Jesus for their identity, security, assurance and life. It’s also for those who are in a good relationship with their Christian brothers and sisters. None of us are ‘perfect’, but we need to be a repentant believer who is living with Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and is committed to their church family.
The New Testament has a lot to say about communion, for instance, “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. (1 Cor. 11:27-29 NIV – emphasis mine.) Clearly, it is an important and serious act for a Christian to partake in communion.
So, should your children take communion? Well, the same considerations you should think about prior to take communion are also true for your children. Do they believe they’re repentant sinners saved by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone? Are they committed disciples of Christ who are striving to grow and mature as His followers? If you feel it is appropriate for them and they understand, at their level, what communion is and why we have it, then they’re welcome to join in.
Some families will make different decisions on whether it is appropriate for their children to take the bread and wine, that’s totally fine.
If you’d like me to come and talk to you, and your children, about communion then I’d be very happy to do this. If you’re happy to talk to them yourself that’s great, please could you let me know what you decide, so we know who to distribute to when we share communion.
Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church