SACRED COMMUNION AND NOURISHMENT weh

Sacred Communion And Nourishment – Reflections On The Bread And Wine At The Lord’s Table

This year’s calendar has provided us as a church with a unique dual week to reflect on the most outstanding pillar of our Christian faith – the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Right after the Easter Conventions, we were ushered into the week of preparation ahead of the Lord’s Supper or Communion Sunday.

As a convention, The Church of Pentecost marks the Lord’s Supper as one of the two ordinances of our faith practice (the other being water baptism by immersion). The Lord’s Supper or communion is typically celebrated on the first Sunday of every month, but not exclusively. There are unique times and under the leading of the Holy Spirit where the leadership of the church could allow a congregation to use any other day to mark the celebration.

As a church, we hold dear the participation of the saints in the Lord’s Supper and encourage all members to endeavour to partake at the Lord’s table. It is our regular practice to dedicate the week preceding the Lord’s Supper Sunday to earnest prayer and teaching to prepare our bodies, souls, and spirits for that unique and peculiar time of fellowship with our Savior and fellow believers. The week is a time of deep reflection on our Christian walk and work; an examination of individual’s hearts and a deep call for repentance, commitment, and response to our Christian call.

Growing up in The Church of Pentecost, it was almost sacrilegious to forfeit evening services during Lord’s Supper week. It was reason for some to self-censor if they were unable to even attend a single evening service the week leading to the Lord’s Supper Sunday. Thus, the evening services were packed with yearning hearts eagerly prepared to dine with the Lord and the brethren on Sunday. People broke down as they were convicted by the word and yielded wholly to the Lord. It was a period where others renewed their love and commitment to God and the things of the Lord. It was a week of impartation and the outpouring of spiritual gifts because hearts were opened to receive.

Very early, it resonated with us that we needed to be in right standing with Christ within the week before we could come before His table. Imagine an invitation to a banquet at Jubilee House next week. Consider the preparation you would put in, including how you would conduct yourself in public so that you do not incur the displeasure of the presidency before the banquet. Reflect on how you would defend your place at the banquet and ensure that your dress for the event is intact and not tarnished in any way. Just ponder on how you would behave after sitting at such a banquet. The aura of importance that will automatically come around you, and how that will inform how you behave in public forthwith. That is the kind of attitude, behavior, and mindset the Lord’s Supper should invoke in us. What that will mean is that we will commit to the week of preparation to ensure we are truly acceptable before God at the table and thereafter, live our lives as true representatives of the Lord Jesus. Keeping this in our mind alone will induce in us a call to holy living.

“Sacred communion, as observed through the partaking of bread and wine at the Lord’s Table, holds profound significance deeply rooted in biblical teachings and spiritual symbolism. Reflecting on the elements of this sacred act provides insights into the spiritual nourishment and communion with God that believers experience. It has deep roots in the Old Testament as it foreshadowed the reality in the New Testament and it has nourishing fruits in the New Testament as a foretaste of what we are to enjoy in the present leading to a forecast at the feast of the Lamb with the raptured saints.”

OLD TESTAMENT SYMBOLISM OF BLOOD

In the Old Testament, the significance of blood was paramount, symbolizing life and sanctification (Hebrews 9:22). Life was in the blood, and only God could claim life or ‘eat’ the blood (Leviticus 17:11, 14), emphasizing the sacredness of blood, even that of animals. The pouring out of the animal’s blood signified the necessity of Christ’s sacrificial death through the shedding of blood. No other means of death would have appeased God than death through the flow of blood (Hebrews 9:22). The blood of lambs thus covered sin (Numbers 15:27–31, Leviticus 17:11), sanctified the sinner (Leviticus 14:14, Exodus 29:20), and protected the saved (Exodus 12:13).

THE OLD TESTAMENT SYMBOLISM OF THE BODY OF THE LAMB

The flesh of the lamb (body) was used in two main ways; part of it was burnt as a sweet aroma to God (Leviticus 6:8–13), and part offered as food to the priest (Leviticus 1:6). During the Passover preparation, the people were tasked to eat the meat of the lamb in haste (Exodus 12:11). The haste with which the lamb was eaten in the Old Testament serves as a reminder of the urgency in our Christian walk, urging believers to work diligently in spreading the Gospel and preparation for the soon coming King.

REALITY OF THE SHADOWS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

The apostle Paul admonished Christians in Colossae not to look to the shadows of the Old Testament when Jesus Christ the reality was with them (Colossians 2:17). It is informative that Jesus sat at table with the disciples to observe the Passover (shadows) and right after that, He brought them to the Lord’s supper (reality) feast (Matthew 26:26 – 29, 1 Corinthians 11:25). Jesus’ declaration of His body being broken for believers signifies His sacrifice for our physical well-being, strength, and the exchange of His holy body for our mortal ones. Remember it was only the priest who could feed on the sacrificial lamb. Having made us a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), He calls us to take His body and eat. In His body is the symbol of our hope in His return.

Like manner, His blood is a cleansing of sin from judgment (John 1:29, 1 John 1:7, Romans 5:9), sanctification for God’s use (Hebrews 13:12), and protection and seal of the new covenant (Matthew 26:28, 29, Hebrews 10:19, Revelation 12:11).

Nowhere was the blood used against the enemy in the Old Testament. It was always for those who have come to God for a relationship (Revelation 7:14). Stop ‘wasting the blood’ on the enemy. It is yours to apply.

CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS IN COMMUNION OBSERVANCE

The significance of the Lord’s supper as a time to appropriate what Christ has done for us; remember His suffering unto death and victory over sin for us; proclaiming this message through our participation and by that connecting both physically and spiritually at the table as one family in communion with our Brother Jesus, must not be treated as a trivial matter. It is an ordinance! We have come to a point where examining ourselves individually (1 Corinthians 11:28) within the week is missing, and many do not regard the week of preparation. Many factors may account for this. They include but are not limited to the lack of intentional planning of the week by leadership of the church, especially at the District and local level, lack of participation by some District ministers and presiding elders who are tasked to lead the charge in this case, lack of proper teaching on the subject, familiarity with the preparation (because people know the source of the bread and wine) leading to trivialization, and nominal attitudes towards this sacred act because it is considered a mere act of symbolism. The call to holiness, a return to solemnity, and a desire for personal encounters with God are proposed solutions to deepen the significance of communion week. The Lord’s supper Sunday should not be a ‘run-through’ service. Let us approach it with all the solemnity, expectation, and yielding of our spirits.

IMPORTANCE OF PREPARATION AND TEACHING

Emphasizing the preparation week and teachings on the significance of the blood and body in communion are crucial aspects often overlooked. The symbolic nature of communion, akin to water baptism, underscores its importance as an ordinance of our faith that prompts believers towards holy living. The leader needs a time of prayer and preparation. Let us see Jesus at the head of the table as we join hands to symbolize the work of our redemption and the hope of our eternity.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNION IN SPIRITUAL LIFE

Approaching communion with reverence and understanding its symbolic depth can lead to a transformation in spiritual life. Just as one would prepare diligently for a significant event, such as dining with a dignitary, the mentality of approaching communion with utmost respect can foster a spirit of holiness and reverence in believers. The sick can be healed, the lame made whole, the blind restored with sight, and the broken strengthened if we approach the Lord’s table with all reverence for Him and not just the elements.

CONCLUSION

The act of communion, symbolized through the bread and wine, serves as a sacred reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, the sanctifying power of His blood, and the call to live holy lives. By understanding the depth of this spiritual practice, believers can partake in communion with reverence, gratitude, and a renewed commitment to living out the teachings it represents. As each member takes the bread and drinks the wine, it affords us to reflect on everyone coming to the table to feed from it. You are called to ‘take’ and ‘eat’. You are invited to ‘take’ and ‘drink’. Let us come prepared; let us come in solemnity with earnest expectation.

Written by Pastor George Osei-Asiedu

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