Remember - Communion

1 Corinthians 11:23-29
I remember the coupon. It was kindergarten and I had been awarded a yellow coupon – one free cheeseburger at McDonalds. I remember taking that coupon in hand with fear and trembling because I had never had a yellow coupon before. I was a plain white coupon kid – straight up hamburger kind of guy. No cheese had ever defaced my burger. So it was that a few days later, with my dad willing to sacrifice and eat the cheeseburger, that I Kenneth Lee Hagler, presented the yellow coupon to the cashier at the McDonalds in Starkville, Mississippi. With that first bite, a whole new world opened for me – cheese was a good thing – No – it was a GREAT thing on a burger!

On the night that he was betrayed, Jesus certainly did more than add cheese to hamburger. Jesus did more than just break bread and pour out juice. Jesus did more than interrupt the celebration of the Jewish Passover meal. He He gave us himself. In communion, this reality is what we remember.

The communion meal is a mystery. For centuries, there have been different thoughts among Christians on this meal. I have come to respect all of those that respect the meal. When Paul wrote to correct the Corinthians, he gave to us the first and most basic ritual of communion. And what he was saying to those who were gathered – remember the meaning – don't play with this – it is seriously GREAT!

The United Methodist has 43 page document titled, Holy Mystery
that outlines how the United Methodist Church understands all of communion. It is good reading but it isn't a sermon – it is more like a little homework – as I'm sure you don't want me to read off a paper!

Where it gets personal is this – Jesus took bread and wine – and he set them aside in a ritual. They became the essential tangible items through which Jesus connects to us. We remember what Christ did in the past, receive his presence in our lives today and place our hope in a future God has promised. The past, present and future connect with us.

But why should a person even take communion?

It follows Jesus' example.
Mark and Matthew's Gospels record the words that reflect that Jesus took part in the ritual. "Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." (Mark 14:25)

It honors Jesus' teaching.
We understand that the communion meal was something Jesus taught to be done often...
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (1Co 11:26 NASB)

It demonstrates my faith in Jesus.
The record in Acts records how the early church made communion a habit as did the early church as a whole.
Acts 2:46 "Day by day, attending the Temple together and breaking bread in their homes…"
Acts 20:11 "And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed."

What about the questions around communion?
Why do you let children take communion?
When children come forward we tell them the bread and juice remind them that Jesus loves them very much. After all, this is the truth we all need to hear! Jesus said we should not stop the little children from coming to him and if the bread and juice represent him, it is appropriate for children to come.

Why is grape juice used rather than wine?
It came about during the 19th century in response to prohibitions of alcohol and the growing problem of alcoholism and continues through to today.

Why do you use bread with yeast when Jesus didn't?
It has been in question for a number of years what meal it was exactly that Jesus celebrated in the upper room. The word used for bread in Greek could refer to any type of bread, with or without yeast. Of greater importance is our belief in an open table where all can come and receive.

What do you believe happens to the elements?
We believe that the elements are a tangible way through which God can work though the elements though they remain bread and juice. John Wesley wrote that this “This is the food of our souls: This gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection” (“The Duty of Constant Communion,” I.3).

What do you do with the leftovers?
Traditionally, the elements are returned to creation or consumed by those who prepare and serve. The handling of the bread and juice should be handled and used with reverence.

Can anyone take communion @ Crossroads?
The answer is yes. We call our table an open one. You don't have to be a United Methodist or a member. You may not even feel worthy. You may not even be a Christian. We believe this simple meal with all its meaning, is God offering us grace.

This meal is a chance to remember that Jesus is all we need. We'll never experience God fully if we act like a diner who keeps interupting their meal to go eat at the restaurant next door, says author Larry Crabb. This is food for our soul.


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