Sharing Communion as a Family
At Peace United Church of Christ, we share a ritual with bread and juice that we call “communion”. Although most Christian churches share communion, there are distinctly different understandings not only of the words to use as we share the bread and juice, but also of its very symbolism and significance.
Here’s a link to the words we typically share together (communion prayer). Below is a reflection on the history and practice of communion.
Typically Christians are in agreement that the bread shared (whether a loaf of bread or wafers) represents the body of Christ and the cup shared (whether wine or grape juice) represents the blood of Christ as described by Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). But it wasn’t always this way – and it doesn’t have to be that way for us.
One of the earliest stories we have of the ritual practice of communion is from a book called the Didache. The Didache is an ancient Christian manual from late in the first or early second century. Chapter 9 of the Didache describes Eucharist (communion) as something that needs to be shared each time the community gathers for worship. In the
Didache there is no mention of Jesus’ body or blood in the sharing of Eucharist. The meaning of the bread and juice is described like this: The juice reminds us of the ‘fruit of the tree of David’ (which is symbolic of the ethnic and religious heritage of the people) and the bread reminds us the process of transforming wheat into a single loaf (the gathering of people transformed into community). Sharing communion with these ancient images, then, is about remembering our heritage and celebrating our oneness in community.
For the members and friends of our community, the definitions and experiences of communion are remarkably diverse. Our ritual, however, has settled into a sustaining pattern. As we gather each Sunday morning around the table, we begin with an invitation to the table in which we celebrate the welcome of our still speaking God. We are invited to participate regardless of our age, our race, our orientation, even our beliefs. Bread is broken, reminiscent not only of Jesus’ death but of the brokenness of humanity; but when gathered in community, we become whole and experience the sacred. The cup is poured out and shared, reminiscent of the presence of the sacred alive not only in Jesus but in all creation; the spirit which moves within us even now.
As we process to the table, taking bread (or gluten free wafers) and dipping it into the juice, we come together as a community and experience the sacred within us and around us. Often we chose to honor this encounter as we light a candle in prayer. You are always welcome!