Re: communion 9/9


Implementing a Communion re:volution won’t necessarily occur with ease in the postmodern, engineered, affluent, western mindset of young adults in Calgary.  But I find affirmation in the endurance of Jesus as he modeled Communion for his about-to-fail disciples.  Our evangelical church body must re:capture the Jewish roots of the table in Communion.  We must comprehend and model the story of the great Feasts and the celebrations of God’s Old Testament w as a Re:deemer of Israel.  Vander Zee instructs that “e cannot begin to understand the meaning of the Lord’s Supper without reckoning with the fact that, before everything else, it is a Jewish meal.”[1] 

We must, in other words, re:cognize that the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament cultus was premised on an expression of Communion.  Not only is Jesus the quintessential[2] sacrificial, Paschal lamb,[3] but he also epitomizes the provisional scapegoat.  The sacrifices under the Old Testament Law depicted and anticipated a day when God would provide an end to the re:petition of shame and guilt.  Now, because of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, the petitions may be presented to God with thanksgiving and his peace, which transcends all understanding, may forever guard our hearts in minds in Christ Jesus.[4]  The tangible aspects of the sacrificial system are given their efficacy in the Lord’s Supper.  The acted symbol is clear: by this sacrifice, re:connection with God occurs.

While exploring the roots of Communion in the Old Testament story, the young adult group of which I’m a primary ministry leader will learn and begin to practice the common elements of a Jewish meal.  Eventually, I hope it will become our common practice to share the Lord’s Supper while engaged in a communal feast.  During our meals together, we will demonstrate together how Jesus took the bread, blessed the bread, broke the bread, and gave the bread.  We will learn together the rich depth of the Passover feast,[5] recalling the redemptive acts of God in the history and the salvation action coming in the future.  “In this way,” as Paul says, “we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Communion depicts like nothing else the action of our Savior and our willingness and commitment to be like him and with him together.  Communion is an acted parable of our identity as people who find their worth, purpose and impetus for action in Jesus Christ.  The identity of this new community is derived in the death and resurrection of Christ as well as the rebirth offered to those who are drawn to him by his Spirit.

And so I have proposed that Communion be an integral part of the shaping of the identity of the now embryonic community of young adults through the ministry of God among the people of Brentview Baptist. I intend to utilize Kreider’s four steps to implement a re:volution of Communion within an established community of believers that already has formed a traditional practice of the Lord’s Supper.  Paraphrasing Kreider’s suggestions, I intend to:[6]

1.      Connect with the realities within the church that limit the celebratory embrace of Communion

2.      Work within the church’s tradition to retain elements that do not hinder the essence of Communion while introducing desired changes through engaging demonstration and explanation.

3.      Choose Scripture well and link teachings to the Lord’s Supper.

4.      Finally, allow for development of the inward vision and commitment of the community in response to the re:newed approach to Communion.

As we gather together on Sunday nights, launching what we pray becomes a new and mighty mission, Communion will enable us to more effectively be spiritually formed.  In fact, our young adult group, with the support of a mentoring Elder, attempted our first step towards this Communion re:volution at a retreat in January.  On a Sunday morning, after our gathered group had witnessed together a baptism and testimony of God’s work in someone’s life, we joined in praise to God through song.  We then meditated on Scripture together through teaching and discussion.  The culmination of the morning came, we moved toward tables for a Sunday brunch.  As the food was set out and the aroma saturated the dining room, we took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it out to one another.  And so a re:newed practice of Communion had begun.

By under girding our community and identity through Communion, I am eager to see how God will be present with us in our prayer and worship much as he was with the earliest church and how his presence will profoundly re:shape us.

[1] Vander Zee, 140.

[2] Vander Zee refers to Jesus as the “Quintessential Sacrament” (45).

[3] John 1:29; Exodus 12:3ff.

[4] Philippians 4:6-9

[5] As Vander Zee says, “the remembrance, or anamnesis, to which Christ calls us comes from the richness of the Passover feast.  It is not just a call to historical memory, but a call to a present participation in the saving events of history.  Remembrance in the Passover meant the identification by the participant of these past events with their present involvement in those events that happened long before.” Vander Zee, 210

[6] Kreider, 161-162.

One Comment

  1. ken, i’m really interested in why the church (in north america?) hasn’t re:focussed itself around the passover meal until what seems to be recently?
    We like to look at Acts 2 for an idealistic view of what the early church was like, then we go off and create more programs to try and make those things possible…when maybe a re:centering of the Lord’s Supper is where we should begin.
    I’m excited to hear how this develops for you. it has inspired and challenged me to re:consider how i might begin, personally and corporately, such a process as well.
    thanks for sharing this bro!

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