Thursday, October 23, 2008

Communion Meditation-Christ's Body

Each Lord’s Day we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We call the bread the body of Christ, thinking of Jesus’s body and we also call the Church the body of Christ, thinking of the bread as the one loaf that is the Church. Is this just a slovenly usage of language or does it reflect an actual reality? Certainly, we can see that those of us gathered here are not really the loaf that is laying on the communion table. Right? We think of the loaf as representing us just as we think of Christ being represented in the loaf.

In both cases, there is a reality that we must consider. The Church is the body of Christ and so the bread is both the church and the body of Christ. While all the parts are not equally interchangeable, the words DO reflect an important truth. Christ is the head of the Church, so He is part of the Church. The Church is the body of Christ, so she is one with Him. The body that is the Church is not separate from the head, nor is the head that is Christ separate from the body. Together, they are the body of Christ.

The Head and Body together make up the body of Christ. It is something more than simply saying that we are in Him and He is in us. In a very real way, we, as the Church, become Christ on the earth. That may make us a bit uncomfortable but it is both a glory and an immense obligation. God incarnated a man in Jesus and Jesus incarnates Himself in His Church, by His Spirit, in us.

There is a sense in which the very life of the Godhead is manifested in us, particularly made clear in the Eucharistic meal. The loaf is broken and eaten. The wine is poured and we drink it. So, the life of Christ is eaten by us and poured into us. While this is metaphor, it is more than that. This is a meal that we partake of by faith. And as we do so, we are exhibiting our faith in Christ to give us life, to animate us to the work that He has called us to do.

So, when we partake of this meal, we expressly do the Lord’s will. Doing the Lord’s will is our food just as it was the food of the Lord Jesus. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

So, just as Jesus fed on doing the Father’s will, so, too, do we feed on doing His will. When we eat the bread and drink the wine, the Lord enables us to accomplish His tasks. We are joined to Him as those who believe His promises and proclaim His Lordship. We are also joined together as those who partake of the Lord’s will in community. This is very much more powerful than simply taking part with the Lord individually. In fact, the fact that we eat this meal as a community is a representation of and the actual presence of God’s Spirit in our midst. Our community, our communion reveals God the Holy Spirit in our midst. And revealing God in our midst, manifesting God on the earth and to the world, is the very task of the Church.

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