What being a Southern Baptist makes your forget about communion

If you grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist church, your communion experience probably looks like this. You get a small piece of styrofoam cracker, and a cup of Welch's Grape Juice. The cracker is tasteless and designed to dissolve on your tongue like those breath strips, and the Welch's is tart and reminds you of breakfast when you were a child. Now, I know that Southern Baptist churches aren't the only ones that use wafers and Welch's, but I am speaking from my experience here.

Recently my church has shaken things up a bit. Instead of communion being brought to you, you walk up to partake. Instead of wafers, everyone pinches from a large loaf of bread, and dips the morsel into a cup labeled W or J depending upon their conscience. Now, I've had youth camps and such where we used bread, but never in my experience of being in Southern Baptist churches have I dipped the bread. Nor has wine ever been available as an option. As I began take communion each week, I realized two important things about it that aren't emphasized in traditional Southern Baptist churches.

First, we all share in one body. When we all take our own little perfectly packaged little wafer, we lose the symbolism that comes from everyone partaking from the same loaf. As I watched people tear at the bread, I remembered that we are all part of one body, just as we all eat from one loaf.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-13 ESV) 
Now, this is obvious from the word communion. The word means that we have a fellowship. But even that emphasis is lost when it is called "The Lord's Supper" rather than communion. I'm not saying that one title is correct. I am just saying that the emphasis on unity is often lost. The symbolism of one loaf drives the point home.

Second, communion tastes good! Woah there, John. What are you getting at? Well, a morsel of bread dipped in wine tastes like you're eating the best jellied bread in the world. A bland wafer with some Welch's just makes you want a stick of Big Red from grandma's purse. Why does this matter? Because the cross of Christ is delicious! The Son of God was beaten beyond recognition. His blood flowed out like water. It was horrific and the greatest sin ever perpetrated against God. And that act, that terrible sin, that darkest of days: it means that I get to have God forevermore, rather than eternally facing his wrath. He paid the cost of my sin, and rose again to show that God could raise me...and it is sweet to my lips. Like bread dipped in wine. Delicious.
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
(1 Corinthians 15:16-19 ESV)
As I mourn during communion remembering that Jesus' body was broken and his blood poured out because of my sin, I delight that I am joined to the body for all eternity.

2 comments:

Nicholas said...
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Nicholas said...

I have to say, if I experienced one great thing from my short stint in the Anglican community (before returning to more non-denominationalist waters), it was in partaking in communion there.
I remember thinking as I knelt at my pew, these people are all drinking from the same cup. Do I even want to do this? Won't I get everyone's germs? Do I even have a right to do this here? Finally, as only 20 or so remained in line from the 300 or so there, something pushed me out of the pew, and I found myself the final person kneeling at the altar. All my nerves suddenly settled, and the moment the wine hit my lips I felt a transcendence I honestly haven't felt since. I rushed back to my pew for the closing prayer and walked out of that cathedral feeling lighter and more a part of the Body of Christ than ever.
And yes, it was delicious. Welch's has way too much added sugar.