Why a Cracker and Juice?

October 14, 2021
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Have you ever had a recurring dream? Worse yet, a recurring nightmare? There’s a stress dream I have at least once a month, where we run out of communion supplies in the middle of a Sunday service. I wake with my heart pounding and check to see when our last order was shipped.

The other week, my greatest fear came true: I had to make a grocery run to assemble some communion baggies so we could make it through our 10:45 service.

This got me thinking: Why is communion so stressful for me? (Certainly, part of that answer is that I don’t want to look incompetent in my job!) Would your average church goer notice if we skipped the meal one week? Especially when we rent space and storage is at a premium, why do we make it a priority to take the meal every week? What’s so special about this cracker and juice?

Put simply, communion is a meal that reminds us of three realities: Our past in Christ, our present in Christ, and our future in Christ.

Our Past || United to Christ in His Death

When we take the meal of communion, we’re participating in a practice that Jesus established at the last supper, his final meal with his followers before his crucifixion. It’s a meal laden with meaning. Jesus shows his disciples that the bread symbolizes his body, which will break; his blood, which will pour out.

Jesus died a death that was meant for us. He paid a penalty that was our responsibility. When we pause for communion, we are reminded of the sobriety of the death of Jesus. Further, we are shown anew the depths of God’s love for us--how wonderful a God who would love us unto death!

When we eat, we remember that we are included in the death that Christ died, our penalty for sin paid for all time.

Our Present || United to Christ as He Sustains

Communion is not a meal that simply looks back at an event--though it does do that! Jesus institutes this as an ongoing meal, a reminder that we are to take over and over again. We continually remind ourselves of our union to Jesus in his death because we are also united to him in new life. The meal reminds us that we are upheld by the nourishment that Jesus provides.

All of us come into the worship gathering in different places. Some are rejoicing in God; others are weeping in sorrow. Regardless of where we find ourselves, communion serves as a moment to recognize that Jesus is with us; that he sustains us.

Whatever week we have had or will have, we mark a moment that helps us to remember that Jesus will see us through. He is our true bread, the one who keeps us going.

Our Future || United to Christ in Celebration

Last, communion is a meal that looks forward. Jesus tells us that he will “not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:29)

When Jesus instructs his disciples to remember him through the meal, he gives them reason to take heart--though for now we eat in his absence, we will one day eat in his presence! Communion is a foretaste of another supper that will take place, the wedding supper of the lamb. Revelation tells us of a coming feast that we will enjoy with Christ in his return.

Communion points us forward. We, the bride of Christ, can feast today in the midst of whatever is going on because we know that we are bound for a heavenly feast, communion with God that will not end.

So...Why a Meal?

All of this begs a question: Why did Jesus ask us to eat something? Couldn’t we just read a passage or pray? Why a cracker and juice?

Jesus asks his disciples to take a meal because it causes them to slow down. To pause. To taste. It activates our senses and drives the truths communicated by the meal more deeply into our hearts. If this was needed for his 12 disciples, how much more for us today! We live in an age of information overload and disconnection. We are often digitally present without mental or physical participation. The meal is an invitation: taste and see that the Lord is good.

Church, in the midst of all that’s going on in our lives, we need to be reminded. We need to see our past in Christ, our present in Christ, and our future in Christ. I pray that our weekly gathering would be a place uniquely marked by the presence of God--that you would come, taste and see that the Lord is good, and leave empowered, equipped, and satisfied. Would our participation in communion serve to that end. Amen.