Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Communion is a divisive issue. Yet that very statement itself seems self-contradictory. How can "communion" - a celebration that recognizes unity - be divisive?
In 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 the apostle Paul describes Jesus' words as he instituted this repeating feast of the Church. As often as you eat and drink it, remembering the Lord's death until he comes, you also recognize the unity you have in Christ.
Martin Luther describes our preparedness for communion in terms of recognizing that it is "for you." When the Christian recognizes that here we receive Christ's body and blood, and that they are for us, the realization is also, "This is for me, for my good, to strengthen me in the faith, to realize that Jesus' broken body is for me."
Through many generations, Christians have tried to explain the nature of the body and blood and their presence in communion. This is an important discussion, one we need to keep having. Many would argue that the problems concerning our definition of the true presence of Christ in communion all have to do with our attempts to describe something in ways that go beyond Scripture. This is why, for instance, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and more radical branches of Protestantism will normally not receive communion together. It's because in our attempts to describe the nature of the body and blood we have reached different conclusions about whether Jesus is present and in what way.
The Scripture will have none of this. The Bible simply tells us it is Jesus' body and blood for us. How can this be? We really can't explain it.
At its heart, though, Christianity isn't about explanation. It is about reception of God's forgiving work in Christ by faith. It is about recognizing that when the pastor puts the host in your mouth, when you drink from the cup, you are receiving Jesus' body and blood and that it is for you. A failure to recognize it as "for you" is what Paul describes as eating and drinking in an "unworthy" manner.
Am I saying here that the right understanding of the presence of Jesus in his body and blood is not important? No, it is important. But the very most important issue is whether it is for you.
Jesus has given his body to be broken for you. He gave his blood to be shed for you. It is for you to receive, as often as you eat and drink it. I would like everyone to reach the conclusion that it is a literal taking part in the body and blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 10). But even more importantly, let's be sure we know that it is Jesus for you.
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