COMMUNION: More Than Bread and Wine!

Hi there! Pastor Bee here with some musings and thoughts about the Easter season — post Mardi Gras and “Fat Tuesday” — Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday according to some church calendars. Many folks in the Christian world begin to celebrate this season with “Lent”; a period of 6 weeks when they will give up something as a sacrifice to ready themselves for the remembrance of our Lord’s sufferings, death, and resurrection. According to Wikipedia, “The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, simple living, and self-denial” ( i.e., purifying the flesh through works, which is NOT possible). Having grown up with this tradition, for me it was a time of gleefully giving up something that I could actually live without or really didn’t care about (strawberries, which I loathe, liver — same thing, helping with housework — that argument didn’t fly). Sometimes it would be something I cared about, but then a week or so into it I would forget all about it. Perhaps there is something more to the “remembrance” that our Lord spoke of on the night he was taken to be tried, tortured, and ultimately hung on the tree to die for you and me.

And when he had given thanks, he brake it and said “Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

1 Corinthians 11:24

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 10:16

Now here is another familiar word from my early church days: communion. I know what it meant to me then, but now it has a deeper and richer meaning for me. I once learned that the word for “fellowship” is the Greek word “koinonia”, translated “full sharing”. In looking at this word in greater detail, I discovered (or perhaps re-discovered) that the word for “communion” is the same Greek word. Let’s take a brief look at this word to uncover the depth of its meaning.

The Strong’s concordance defines “koinonia” as fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse, the share which one has in anything, participation, and intimacy. The Oxford Dictionary defines “communion” as the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. The Cambridge Dictionary states, “A communion is an intimate connection. When you connect in a meaningful way with something, or intimately share your feelings with someone, you experience a communion. The word implies a deep connection, particularly a spiritual one”. Some synonyms for communion are empathy, closeness, relationship, intimacy, and intercourse. Thayer’s translates it similarly but adds that the root word “koinos” is “to be one’s partner in shedding the blood”.

The word “intercourse” arrested my attention in this list of definitions and synonyms as it brought back another great lesson when my husband and I were about to be married. The pastor who married us taught us about the three kinds of intercourse. The Oxford Dictionary defines “intercourse” as communication or dealings between individuals or groups. Synonyms include dealings, association, connections, interchange, communication, and communion. The Collins Dictionary defines “social intercourse” as communication between people as they spend time together. It comes from a French word meaning to exchange or commerce. It further originates from the Latin word, to ‘intervene’ (inter-between + currere-run=to run between). The specifically sexual meaning didn’t come about until late in the 18th century.

So now you ask, “What are the three kinds of intercourse”? Glad you asked; here they are:

Intercourse (meaning to intimately share your thoughts, feelings, fears, victories, failures, all of your heart, which implies a deep and intimate relationship with great trust) with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Intercourse (same meaning as the first) with another individual, in the context of my husband to be and me, the deep relationship and trust in each other.

Finally, it is actual sexual intercourse.

Which one do you think is the most important and the foundation for the others? The intimacy and depth of our relationship with our Father and His Son sets the tone for all other relationships we will ever have. Just the word, “intercourse” conveys a deep and abiding love, care, and trust, an intimacy that comes with time and effort. We have to take the time and expend the effort to develop our relationship with our heavenly Father by reading His Word, prayer and praise, and communicating with him. Without the basis of His Word, we will never come to understand the depth of the love of the Father who gave His only begotten son that we may have life. We have to understand the significance of what Jesus did for us in the shedding of his blood and the giving of his body to be sacrificed for us. We need to come to understand the significance of everything he accomplished when he said, “It is finished”.

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body.

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, drink ye all of it: for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remissions of sins.

Matthew 26: 26-28

This is my body. This is my blood. It reads like a statement of fact, but it is wrapped up in a figure of speech, a metaphor, meaning to represent, but is stated emphatically. THIS IS MY BODY! THIS IS MY BLOOD! The statements arrest our attention. We enter into a full sharing of everything the body and blood represents: healing, wholeness, forgiveness of sin, grace, mercy, peace, God’s favor, newness of life. The more we know about Jesus, who he is, what he accomplished in his life and death, what motivated him, what drove him, the more we enter into the intimacy of that relationship with our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who leads us to the Father. The more vividly we see what our Saviour accomplished for us when he allowed himself to be tortured, mutilated, and ultimately laid down his life for “the joy that was set before him” ( Hebrews 12:2), the more intimate our communion with him will be. Our relationship with God, our heavenly Daddy, and our brother, Jesus Christ will be a mutual full sharing: sweet, intimate, and fulfilling. We are the joy that was set before him. Now the joy set before us it to become more like him and manifest the same power and love that he does. Jesus is not past tense — he is ever present and eternal. He is the one that “bare our sins in his own body on the tree”….”by whose stripes ye [we] were healed”. This is past tense; the truth that we were healed, made whole, is an accomplished reality now. We were healed, made totally whole and complete by what Jesus accomplished for us. Our wholeness is a NOW, TODAY, AND FOREVERMORE completed reality. We can “have boldness in the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). AS HE IS,(NOT WAS) SO ARE WE, (PRESENT TENSE), today right now! Jesus is not a “has-been” or a “was”, HE IS, and he has commissioned us to do the same works he does and greater.

Getting back to the subject of “Lent”. The origin of the word “lent” comes from the Old English word “lencten”, meaning springtime. Spring is a time of renewal and new growth. Spring is a time of new beginnings. The cold of winter is gone and we see new life springing up all around us. We don’t have to give up strawberries or chocolate or whatever “sacrifice” we can think of. Our sacrifice is ourselves; we present ourselves as “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord, which is our reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

The remembrance of our Lord’s suffering and death is the acknowledgement of what he accomplished and accepting our commissioning and authority as ambassadors for him. We take upon ourselves his yoke and lead others to him. We demonstrate our love and thankfulness to God for the free gift of grace by presenting ourselves as living sacrifices — our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. We do the works of our Lord. We bring the lost to the Father so they too can receive the grace and mercy and peace and forgiveness and favor, that has been freely imparted with unconditional love. In the process, we do give up something — we cast our cares to our Father who cares for us. We will be able to relinquish our fears, our worries, our cares, our sickness, our trials, and our tribulations to the one who paid for all of this and more with the price of his own life.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation], old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new. And all [new] things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 & 18

We have been made new and are continually made new every day as we look to the the Creator of life, the Author of His Word: the book of life. We “Turn our Eyes Upon Jesus”, the one who bought us back with a price and gave us newness of life. We can “Be For God” by walking in that newness of life, every day, then walking in our God-given right and sharing that newness of life to a world that lies in darkness; bringing to them perpetual springtime! Then they too can enjoy communion, an intimate, deep and abiding love, trust, and care from and with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ — a daily refreshing of life.

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