At our church, we take communion every Sunday. I have grown up doing this and I find that when I visit another church that doesn’t do this, I miss it. But what is this about? Why do we do this? It is really kind of an odd thing. We eat a little cracker or baked bread (sometimes very baked bread) and drink a tiny little bit of grape juice and were done. A whole 20 seconds of this “meal” that often takes 5-10 minutes or so as someone rambles on with their mini-sermon and then we wait for everyone else to have their 20 seconds of “feasting” on the cracker and thimble full of grape juice.
So why do we do this every Sunday?
From the time my kids are 3 or 4, they can tell you that we do this every Sunday to remember that Jesus died on the cross. As they get a little older, they can tell you that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It is still a little confusing, though.
In the Old Testament, God’s people had their laws, or covenant. They offered sacrifices of animals, food, and drink for many different things. A couple of these sacrifices were a sin offering and a guilt offering. There was also a fellowship offering, and several others. The sacrifices to God were to remind them that the God they served was the true God and was to be the most important thing in their lives. He is the God who gives blessings and the God who allows his people to go through hardships. He is in control and these sacrifices were offered regularly so people would remember Him and remember to follow God’s laws. As I read through the Old Testament, I often wonder how they had anything left to eat. It seems they are constantly offering sacrifices, sometimes huge amounts of sacrifices to celebrate and give thanks for what God has done for them, or for forgiveness because of the things they had done against God’s law.
Then comes Jesus. The son of God, born on earth. He lived and taught, healed the sick, and then did something that changed everything. This man called Jesus, the Son of God, who could have brought in an army of angles and taken over the world, allowed himself to be killed by the people. He became the sacrifice for our sins. The last sacrifice we would ever need. He became our sin offering. Our guilt offering. Our fellowship offering. But one thing we often forget… if the story ended there, it would just be another interesting story. But it doesn’t end there. Jesus left the grave and came back and walked with his friends and taught some more and went back to be with his Father in heaven. We celebrate and worship God and Jesus, our Savior. That is why we take communion, to remember this sacrifice.
So… why do we do this every Sunday?
Last week as we were taking communion, Owen, my 6 year old, was sitting by me and, as I often do, I asked him why we do this every week. As he always does, he replied “to remember that Jesus died on the cross for us”. Then I asked another question I had never asked him. One I was sure he did not know the answer to, because I had never talked to him about it. Why a little piece of bread and a little grape juice? Why not a Snickers and a Dr Pepper? That would be much tastier and Snickers really satisfies.
Just before Jesus was arrested, he met with his closest friends and they had a meal together (Matthew 26: 20-30). After the meal, Jesus took some bread and some wine and shared it with them. He told those with him that he was going to be the sacrifice and that this “meal”, this bread and wine was to help them remember him, just like the sacrifices in the Old Testament were to help them remember what God had done for them. The bread and wine (or grape juice) is to remind us of this sacrifice, the “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
His friends and those who follow his teachings, continued this.
"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes." 1 Corinthians 23-26
So… that is why we do this every Sunday.
Nope, I don’t really understand it all either, but I don’t really have to. I just know that on Sunday, as I eat that tiny little piece of bread and that tiny little bit of grape juice, I remember. I remember why I am here. I remember that I have a purpose. I remember that God loves me. I need that reminder. After a hard week of work, kids, challenges and victories, I need that reminder. That God loves me and He is in control.
That is why we do this every Sunday.