Communion - Not Just a Ritual, but a Remembrance that brings Renewal

Each week at City on a Hill we celebrate communion (AKA the Lord's Supper). For some people this seems like an odd practice. There are many churches throughout the world who only celebrate communion quarterly or monthly. Over the years, I've had not a few regular attenders express concern that our weekly celebration of communion will elicit a mindset of empty ritual void of any significance or meaning.

I disagree with that conclusion. 

The Bible never specifically states how often we should practice communion, instead the Scriptures emphasize the meaning of communion and allow us to use discernment on how often to observe. At City on a Hill we believe that communion is not just an empty ritual, but rather that communion is a remembrance that brings renewal.

A little theological context could be helpful: Ever since the Protestant Reformation in 1517 (500 years ago - what! what!), there has been great disagreement among believers as to the meaning of communion. Roman Catholic doctrine states that the bread and cup literally turn into Jesus' body and blood, this is called transubstantiationism (honestly, it's a little creepy). Lutheran doctrine states that the bread and cup remain bread and wine, but also turn into Jesus' body and blood, this is called consubstantiationism (still creepy, and a little confusing). Calvin proposed a view where the bread and wine remain bread and wine, but Jesus is present in a real and special way. Zwingli (the forgotten father of the Protestant revolution!) proposed a view that stripped the presence of Jesus from the act of communion and instead insisted that communion is merely a symbol of remembrance.

All that to say, our view is somewhere between Calvin and Zwingli. We believe that by practicing communion we are remembering Jesus, that he is with us in a real (though not physical) sense, and that this remembering bring renewal. Much like baptism, communion is a physical symbol of an inward reality - that Jesus' body was broken/crushed for you and that Jesus' blood was shed for you. Each week when we take communion we are worshipping God with our tactile, gustatory, and olfactory senses. It's meant to wake us up to the reality of Jesus' death and resurrection on our behalf, and we're supposed to continue to do it until Jesus returns!

Each week, we join in with the saints of old and all over the world by celebrating the ancient practice of communion because of these great reminders. The reminders that God gives us through communion do not lose their value by practicing it each week. It's not stripped of its significance. Instead, we believe that as our understanding of communion expands, and we're given opportunity to practice this ceremony, God brings renewal to our hearts and lives. This may seem odd to some, but as Christians we have to embrace the weirdness.

- Pastor Fletcher

Fletcher Lang