Scripture: 1 Corinthians 11:1-34
Observation: Paul dives into some specific details about appropriate attire for worshipping and how we were made to reflect God’s glory. He then talks to the Corinthians about honoring the Lord’s Supper and ensuring that we've confessed our sin before partaking in communion.
Application: A few years ago, I experienced the act of doing communion in a small group for the first time. A far cry from the corporate Sunday morning church setting I was used to, I came into the experience skeptical and doubtful, trying to ward off feelings of pre-mature guilt that it wouldn’t be “sacred” enough. With no Eucharistic ministers, no tabernacle, no ritual dedication of the bread and wine beforehand, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I found preliminary comfort in the words of Acts 2, where we read this:
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.”
Taking the lead from these early believers, my small group shared a meal together, including the Lord’s Supper. We sat around a table, passing around roasted chicken and spicy hearty vegetables, refilling water glasses, laughing, connecting, sharing. Eventually, we cleared our plates and replaced those dinner plates with small cups of grape juice and hunks of homemade bread. We talked about our communion experiences in the past, shared what the Holy Spirit was doing in our lives, prayed, reflected, and took communion together.
There was something so freeing, so beautiful, so complete about sharing the experience among friends. It was imperfect and raw, just like us. It was healing, and it was restorative. In that moment, I started to find that communion isn’t something to be completed; it’s something to be experienced.
“For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” (verse 26)
How incredible that we get to be part of that experience!
As Paul reminds the Corinthians, it’s not an experience we can take for granted; it’s an experience we must prepare our hearts for. We must confess before we commune.
“So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That’s why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourselves.” (verses 27-29)
In some ways, the act of confession and the act of communion are inexplicitly linked by the act of sharing. When we confess, we share our sin and begin a cleansing process. When we commune, we share an experience, remembering how Jesus came to this earth and poured out his body and his blood for us. How much more powerful these experiences are when we do them together – confessing our sin and then communing together to celebrate that the very sin we just confessed cannot defeat or destroy us because of Christ Jesus himself.
Prayer: God, I pray that you’ll help us have a renewed view of the Lord’s Supper, that we’ll practice the act of confession before we practice the act of communion. I pray you’ll help us come into community with others to share this experience the way you designed it. Amen.