Tag Archives: Communion

Burk Parsons on Communion

The Lord’s Supper isn’t a funeral dirge of morbid introspective guilt-motivated mourning but a joyful Jesus-focused feast of celebration.

Burk Parsons

Rick Warren on being a Christian but not attending a church

Only in our culture of idolatrous individualism do believers think they can follow Jesus without belonging to His Body.

Rick Warren

the communion of saints

(This is part fifteen of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

This entry will carry over some of the ideas from the previous line of the Apostles’ Creed and some of my other entries on Communion. The line we’re looking at today is

“I believe in the communion of the saints.”

There are two important ideas in this little line: communion and sainthood. Both of these ideas stem from one of my favorite parts of the Gospel, and that is reconciliation. Sin is the great divider that separates us from God but it also drives a wedge into human relationships. Because of sin our relationships with God and with one another are broken. When Christ died on the cross He reconciled us to God and to one another; thus we are able to enjoy the communion of the saints. That being said, I’ll just break this down into two simple questions.

What is sainthood? The Roman Catholic tradition for sainthood is not what we’re talking about here. According to Roman Catholic tradition:

In official [Catholic] procedures there are three steps to sainthood: one becomes Venerable, Blessed and then a Saint. Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized as having lived heroic virtues. To be recognized as a blessed, and therefore beatified, in addition to personal attributes of charity and heroic virtue, one miracle, acquired through the individual’s intercession, is required. Canonization requires two, though a Pope may waive these requirements.

But the Bible actually paints a different picture for sainthood. I could blatantly rip it off, but instead I’ll share a link to an article that does an excellent job of explaining the Biblical teachings about being a saint. Three important things to take away from that article:

  1. “The idea of the word “saint” is a group of people [the Church] set apart for the Lord and His kingdom.”
  2. “Scripturally speaking, the “saints” are the body of Christ, Christians, the church. All Christians are considered saints. All Christian are saints…and at the same time are called to be saints.”
  3. Christians are saints by virtue of their connection with Jesus Christ. Christians are called to be saints, to increasingly allow their daily life to more closely match their position in Christ. This is the Biblical description and calling of the saints.”

Therefore, the only person who can declare someone a saint is Jesus. All Christians are saints because of their connection to Jesus Christ. That brings us to our second question…

What is communion? I would dare say that Communion is largely misunderstood in the modern Church. If you don’t believe me, explain why this video is so funny!

While communion may seem pretty simple, unleavened bread and wine, there is a lot going on behind the scenes.Communion is a time when believers remember the sacrifice that Christ has made on their behalf. But it’s also a time to contemplate the benefits of such a sacrifice; specifically, reconciliation with God and with one another. The Church is intended to be Christ’s Body here on earth; thus we are united with Christ but also with one another. In Romans 12, Paul describes the Church as a body; in a physical body all the members are organically connected, in the Church all the members are spiritually connected. Elsewhere, in 1 Corinthians 11:33 Paul is stressing the unity of mind that Christians should have when they come together for Communion.

In this line of the Apostles’ Creed, two things are being stressed. First is the fact that Christ declares His followers to be saints. Second is the fact that we are reconciled to God and to one another; there is beautiful unity achieved as a result of Christ’s finished work.

I’ve shared communion with saints literally all around the world, from Knoxville, TN to probably a dozen different churches in Alaska and even in Japan. I’ve shared communion and worshiped Jesus with a great church in Portland, OR that Connie and I plan on attending as soon as we get down there. I’ve even worshiped and shared communion with the saints in Afghanistan (where I met some amazingly passionate Christians, Danny & Andrea Avery) and I’ve had the privilege of worshiping with the saints in the United Arab Emirates. It’s been an amazing privilege to see that no matter where I go there is always a group of people there who I can connect with. The Church truly is a world-wide Body that spans entire continents and is bonded by the blood of Christ.

For me, this line most vividly reminds me of one of the most beautiful worship experiences I’ve ever encountered. Last year I had the privilege of visiting the Evangelical Community Church of Abu Dhabi. There were people from over 60 different nations all gathered together to worship Jesus. And it wasn’t like there was a section for white people, a section for Asians, a section for blacks; no, we were all sitting completely mixed together as a diverse, but unified group. It was beautiful! It was the communion of the saints.

Romans 12:4-5

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past few years is that, no matter where I go, there is always a Body. God has taken me lots of places, and I always run across fellow Christians. I remember deploying to Afghanistan two years ago and feeling sad because I was leaving my church. As it turns out, after being there a few months, I had some of the best fellowship I had ever experienced until then. My only regret was that I had waited three months to get involved.

This deployment, I knew better. I got plugged in as soon as possible. I’ve learned how important and necessary it is to intentionally seek out fellowship. This deployment has given me some of the deepest, most meaningful fellowship I have ever experienced. I’ve made friendships that I will never forget. I hope they last for a lifetime and I know I will see these Saints in Heaven. It’s been great and prevented me from feeling lonely and isolated. It’s helped the time go by. And it’s helped keep me spiritually strong. I only hope I have been a blessing to my brothers and sisters here.

After doing a lot of studying on the subject, Communion has become very, very special to me. Communion is symbolic of everything Christ accomplished. We break the bread and drink the wine to remember that our relationship with God has been restored. We do it together as a Body to remember that, because of what Christ has done, our relationships with one another are also restored. Communion is symbolic of both the vertical and horizontal restoration of relationships.

This morning I had the chance to help with Communion. I passed out the bread. It’s part of the custom to say, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you” as the person takes a piece of bread. Today, as I said it I looked each person in the eye and reminded myself that Christ died for that person. I meant it every time I said it and was flooded with love for everyone in the room. Romans 12:4-5 reminds me that, in Christ, we all share redemption. During Communion we all remember the sacrifice Christ made for us. We all celebrate the fact that we can now have a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father…and with each other. Communion is the point where we break one bread into many pieces and eat it. It reminds us in that moment that we are all mystically connected by Christ.

We are one Body.

Communion Message

This is the Communion Message I gave a week ago at the campus-lead church service:

Good morning church, my name is Daniel Delgado and I’m going to give a communion message. Today is a campus-led service, so this will be a little longer than most communion messages. I hope we’ve all been touched by the stories that were just shared with us. I also hope that we’ve all seen a common theme of lives changed, hearts set right, and souls liberated. And it’s with the theme of liberation that I’d like to look at communion. The word “communion” comes from the Latin word “communio,” which means “sharing in common.” I think that, as Christians, there are many things we share in common. But arguably, the most important is the fact that we’ve all been liberated from sin and communion is a time to not only remember that, but also to celebrate our liberation! I’m not sure if this is a new take on communion or not, but I’d like to share it with you. Let’s open our bibles to Mark 14:12-16:

12On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

13So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

We’ve all heard this before and we’ve all had the chance to get bored with it and think we’ve got this passage figured out. But have we dissected it yet? Have we really rolled up our sleeves and dug deep into this passage? Or have we simply taken it at face value? I think if we look carefully, we find that there are a couple questions that beg to be asked:

What is the Feast of Unleavened Bread and what is the significance of Passover?

Well I’m glad you asked, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a celebration established by God in Exodus 12:17-20. This is when the Jews celebrate God liberating His people from slavery in Egypt.

This is like the Jewish Independence Day. Now in America, when we think Independence Day, we think red, white, and blue, fireworks, and barbeques. But for the Jews, this holy holiday is a time of reverence, fasting, and remembering what God has done. This holiday is a little more holy to the Jews of Jesus’ time that the 4th of July is to modern America.

And as we all know, freedom isn’t free, so who paid the price for the Jewish freedom? Well, in order for the Egyptian Pharaoh to set the Jews free, it took ten plagues, culminating with the death of the entire first born population in Egypt. This was especially devastating because the first born was supposed to carry on the family legacy; they received a double-portion of the family inheritance, and were also first in line to inherit the throne in royal families. The loss of an entire generation of firstborns had catastrophic effects to Egypt. Also, up until now, the plagues hadn’t affected Pharaoh—just his subjects—but this hit close to home because now his throne had no heir. There was no on to carry on his legacy. After this the Pharaoh didn’t want to have anything to do with the Jewish people.

From then on, this holiday has been celebrated by the Jews. So here are some key points.

* God’s People were slaves.

* God sacrificed the firstborn.

* God’s people were set free so they could worship God.

* God commanded the Jews to celebrate this liberation with the Passover Feast.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Let’s look at communion. When Jesus, at the Passover Feast, established the Lord’s Supper, he was telling us that The Firstborn over all creation was preparing to die for us to set us free from our bondage to sin. We all know what happens next, Jesus is betrayed and crucified within 24hrs of establishing communion. Coincidence? I doubt it! But it was necessary for Him to die if we were ever going to be set free. It was a cost that had to be paid if God’s people were ever going to see liberation from slavery.

I can’t help but marvel at the connection between the Passover Feast and communion. And as we take communion today, I want us all to think about what we share in common. Communion connects us all. It’s one body, broken into many pieces and becomes a part of us. We all, like God’s people so long ago, have been liberated from slavery.