The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.” 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.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (NIV).
Why should we celebrate the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist/Communion? Here are some reasons:
To come together. The Greek word koinonia means community, from which we get the word ‘communion’ meaning to participate together as a sign of our unity in Christ and with each other … we’re a unique eschatological community in which Christ is present.
To give thanks. In the 2nd Century it came to be called the Eucharist from the Greek eucharisteo which means ‘to give thanks’. “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'” 1Corinthians 11:24 (NIV).
To participate in the life of God. His life becomes our life and we become members of each other. “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NIV).
To keep us focused. Communion is a sermon without words, a picture of the cross, a memorial to the death and resurrection of Christ, a reminder of all that Jesus has done to reconcile us with God.
To be real with God. We are all sinners saved by grace, all at the same level. This is beautifully illustrated in the story of the Duke of Wellington who, after defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, went to a little church to celebrate the Eucharist. There was an old man at the altar who had come to break bread and the priest/minister asked the old man to move away. But Wellington intervened. He grabbed the old man’s arm and insisted he break bread with him … saying, “Here we are all equal.”
To sustain us. Communion is symbolic of the fact that we all need spiritual nourishment and to get that nourishment we must keep coming back to Christ.
To remember. We should look back and keep the crucifixion in mind – “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me'” Luke 22:19 (NIV). And we should look forward to His coming again – “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” 1 Corinthians 11:26 (NIV).
To renew our commitment, to rededicate ourselves to Christ. He is God and we are not!
To be connected with the Lord and with others. One of the four marks of a Spirit-filled community is that “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” Acts 2:42 (NIV).
To consecrate ourselves – to set ourselves apart, to dedicate ourselves as the people of God.
To know that we have a unique identity, a new identity and have been given the gift of God’s Spirit.
To celebrate. We’ve been set free from sin! We’ve been reconciled with God! We have a future and a hope! “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Revelation 19:9.
To do what we’re told to do. It’s a command (1 Corinthians 11:24 “Do this …”).
To examine ourselves. “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” 1 Corinthians 11:28 (NIV).
To proclaim His death until He comes. It’s a statement of our faith. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” 1 Corinthians 11:26 (NIV).