The Lord’s Supper is a wonderful gift to the church. It is a reenactment of the Last Supper of Jesus with his friends. It is a reminder of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Good Friday. It is a declaration of the new life of forgiveness and grace. It is a longing for Jesus to return and for the kingdom to come in its fullness.
When Jesus tells us “Take and eat” he declares “this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Bread and wine are visual, physical, tactile reminders of the body and blood of Jesus. We are witnesses again to the drama of salvation: of a body broken for our redemption; of blood shed for our rescue. Around the Lord’s Table we see these physical things – bread and wine – and are reminded of heavenly realities – sacrifice and salvation.
But this isn’t just a meal we sit and look at. We are commanded to take and to eat. These reminders of heavenly things are not to be simply gazed upon, they are to be consumed.
God has given us a physical reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection so that we can engage with that wonderful truth in a physical way. We are, after all, physical beings. God has created us with bodies as well as souls. Around the communion table, God invites us to engage physically with the story of redemption and take it for ourselves.
Bread and wine are symbols of Jesus’ body broken for us. We take these physical elements and feed on them. We eat them, and they become part of us. We are fed by them, in our bodies as well as our souls.
Every time we take communion, we are invited to take hold of Jesus for ourselves. He, of course, is really the one who takes hold of us. Yet he offers us this opportunity to reach out and take a symbol of his body. And in taking and eating, to be united with him.
It’s funny how something as simple as bread and wine can be infused with so much mystery and wonder. As evangelicals, we are often wary of wonder, and engage more on an intellectual level with things like the Lord’s Supper. I think that’s a shame. After all, God is a God of wonder, and he has given us a creation, and a redemption, that is shot through with wonder and mystery.
The communion table is a meal for our mind – we are meant to think upon Jesus’ sacrifice, remember it and consider it. It is also a meal for our bodies, real food and drink that sustains us. It is also a meal for our souls, a place where we stop and wonder at the salvation made available to us. It is a place where we engage with the truth that Jesus’ prayed before going to the cross: “I in them and you in me”. The act of taking and eating is an act of invitation and acceptance – that the living Christ might dwell in our hearts and be present in our lives. Wonder indeed.