Key Verse for today: Exodus 12:13, "The blood will be your sign on the houses where you live. Whenever I see the blood, I'll pass over you. No plague will destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt."
I remember my Dad taking me to the altar at the New Life Center Assembly of God Church in Tulsa as a small child. It was for Holy Communion. We had the little white wafers that don't have much taste but there was also a little thimble-sized glass cup of grape juice. I had previously watched the elements of Communion pass me by on Sundays when it had been given in the pews. On this Sunday, Dad broke his wafer in half and gave me half his cup of grape juice. He tried to explain to me that this was a time of prayer and that we were communing with God.
|Picture from Grace United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas|
What does Holy Communion mean with this talk of eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ? At a young age, it seemed kind of cannibalistic in a way. Later I came to understand this more metaphorically. We talk about the spiritual presence of Christ rather than the elements physically transforming into the actual body and blood of Jesus. It sounds pretty literal in John's Gospel when you read chapter 6.
Bruce Chilton in his Rabbi Jesus, theorizes that Jesus began to share in these holy feasts as an alternative to the perceived corrupt worship in the Temple. In the animal sacrifices made in the Temple, flesh and blood are offered on behalf of the individuals to God. According to Chilton, when Jesus says "this is my blood" (wine) and "this is my flesh" (bread), he is equating the holy meal as a substitute for Temple worship rather than asking people to envision eating of his actual flesh and blood.
Holy Communion is a sacrament that is a representation of the sacrifice of Christ according to our official United Methodist doctrine. Yet it is more than a remembrance through our belief in the living Christ present within the elements of bread and juice. It is this spiritual presence that unites with us so that we may be a holy and living sacrifice for God. We are reminded in Communion that we covenant to give our lives to God.
As we celebrate this Holy Thursday today, there are likely opportunities in your area to celebrate the Lord's Supper. John Wesley called Holy Communion a "means of grace" and thought it was helpful for Christians to partake whenever it is offered.
What does Holy Communion mean for your faith?
Breath Prayer: Holy Lord, live in me today.