Why Do We Observe Communion?

This week, as part of our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services, we will once again partake in Communion (also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist) together. As we prepare our hearts for this time of worship, let’s think about why we observe this ancient Christian rite:

We Remember

The first thing we’re doing when we take Communion together is remember. We recall Christ’s body, broken for us. We consider Christ’s blood, shed for us. It’s as if we have a divinely instituted visual aid to help us remember the real, true, transforming sacrifice that was given for us (1 Cor 11:24; 1 Pet. 2:24).

We Receive

Second, we receive. As we remember, via most tangible means, the real and true sacrifice of Jesus, we receive the truth that this sacrifice was made for us. Most primary in the Lord’s Supper isn’t us giving a gift to God, but our receiving, with fresh eyes, the gift that’s given to us. As question 75 of the Heidelberg Catechism says,

“First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the Lord broken for me and the cup shared with me, so surely his body was offered and broken for me and his blood poured out for me on the cross. Second, as surely as I receive from the hand of the one who serves, and taste with my mouth the bread and cup of the Lord, given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood, so surely he nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood.”

Paul even highlights Communion as a “participation/fellowship” with Christ himself (1 Cor. 10:16). In other words, one of the ways that God has chosen to deliver his goodness to us is through partaking of this small meal together.

In the Eucharist, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we receive the grace purchased for us by Christ’s suffering on a tree.

We Proclaim

Finally, in Communion proclaim the wondrous works of God on our behalf. In this communal act we are heralding the good and complete work of Jesus — to one another and to the world around us. We are unified (1 Cor. 10:17). We give and receive this declaration to each other (1 Cor. 11:26). The Lord’s Supper binds us together and announces the powerful deeds of God that continue to reverberate with power and praise. 

So this week as we gather elements to take Communion together, think about what we’re going to do. Consider the significance of this observance for us as one body of Christ. Prepare your heart. Prepare you home. Prepare your family. Prepare to encounter the one who suffered for you and comes near in bread and wine.