Communion in Jesus

What's the Lord's Supper all about?

But what shall I say, what shall I promise my Lord, since I have no power over anything unless He gives it to me? But let Him look into my innermost being: I greatly desire and am prepared for Him to grant me that I might drink from His chalice, as He has permitted to others who love Him.

  - Patrick, Confession, Irish, 5th century[1]

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

What are we doing as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper?

For many – perhaps too many – the Lord’s Supper is a traditional aspect of worship, rarely observed, that is significant primarily as a memorial. It’s a way of remembering what Jesus did for us, and perhaps signaling to ourselves and others that we believe in the efficacy of Christ’s saving death for our justification and life.

Some explain that the body and blood of Christ are somehow present with the elements of bread and wine, so that we are truly participating in the Lord as we commune.

Some go further, insisting that the cup and bread of communion become the blood and body of Christ as we partake of them.

There is in the Lord’s Supper a true, albeit spiritual, communing with Christ, a participation in or fellowship with Him, as Paul has it. Or at least, there should be. We cannot have fellowship with other believers unless we are present together, sharing in the give-and-take of attention and conversation. Just so, our fellowship with the Lord – that’s the Greek word for communion – must involve real interaction and participation with Him, though of a spiritual sort. The Lord’s Supper heightens normal fellowship with the Lord, intensifying that fellowship because of its sacramental and spiritual power.

At the table of the Lord we do, indeed, remember and celebrate His great work for us. But we also partake of His body and blood in a real, albeit sacramental way, a way that draws us into the reality of Christ and His Spirit, so that, more acutely than at other times, we immerse in Him, are filled with Him, feel Him “stretching out” to fit and extend the frame of our soul and body, and go forth to walk in Him in the newness of life. Our participation in Jesus (Gal. 2.20) is heightened by our participation in the sacramental elements of His Supper.

He Himself has set the elements of bread and wine apart from their ordinary use, so that they might serve a heightened function, under the right conditions, of bringing us more closely and really into fellowship and participation with Him.

We must prepare for the Lord’s Supper – through meditation, confession, repentance, and prayer – if we would know this participation in Christ as He intends. We must also enter the Supper with the greatest solemnity and gratitude, allowing ourselves to become enveloped in an aura of contemplation and praise. And we must commune in conversation with the Lord, speaking from the heart, listening with the soul, and tasting to know the goodness of the Lord in this special, holy meal.

We trivialize the Lord’s Supper to our detriment. The sacrament of bread and wine should bring us through the veil of time into the eternal Presence of the Lord in the same way His Word and prayer do, but with even greater intensity, because we are together as His Body, in fellowship with Him.

Here’s how I think of the heightened Presence of the Lord in His Supper: As we read and study the Word, listening and communing with the Lord in prayer, His Spirit illuminates our minds, engaging our hearts and consciences, so that we are transformed from within. In the Lord’s Supper, the Spirit of Jesus envelops us entirely, making His Presence known from within and without as we engage Him not only in our souls, but with our bodies. We become immersed in Jesus, surrounded by Jesus, and nourished by Jesus, so that we might be made more like Jesus through His Word and Spirit.

If we do not prepare for the Supper, if the words of invitation and institution are neither thorough nor welcoming, and if the elements we consume are hardly sufficient to awaken our taste buds to the Presence of the Lord, then we are missing the point, and missing a glorious privilege and opportunity for growing in the Lord.

But if we enter the sacrament as we should, not only will our sense of Christ’s presence be heightened, but we will be renewed for our walk with and work for Him, and our senses will be trained to appreciate better the sacramental aspect of the world, where the glory of the Lord speaks continuously.

When we eat the bread and drink the wine as the Lord intends, we feed on our Lord Jesus and drink of His cup of salvation in a way that focuses and renews our relationship with Him, and His calling on our life.

For Reflection
1. What do we mean by saying that our Lord Jesus is spiritually present with the elements of His Supper?

2. What will you do to participate in the Lord more fully as you take communion?

Psalm 116.4-6, 10-14 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God Who Reigns Above)
I called to God, “O Lord, I pray, my soul redeem with favor!”
The Lord is gracious in His way, and righteous is our Savior.
His mercy to the simple flies; He lifted me up to the skies –
I rest in Him forever!

Afflicted, I believe His Word, though lying men would undo me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?
Salvation’s cup I lift above and call upon the God of love
and pay my vows most truly.

Teach me how to take Your Supper Lord, so that I…

Thank You
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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from
The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Da Paor, p. 107.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore