For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
Why do we celebrate Communion? One answer is that the Lord instructed us. However, there is more to Communion than simply following the Lord’s command.
Theologians have argued over the centuries about the meaning of Communion and what happens during Communion. Different streams have different emphases on how Christ is present in connection with the elements of bread and wine, or grape juice, as may be the case.
What we can all agree on is that Jesus is present during the celebration of the sacrament. To me, it’s much like what happens when we gather together to worship or pray. Jesus is always with us. However, something happens when we come together for the express purpose of praying or worshiping. He is with us in a special way that would not be the case if we did not come together.
So it is with Communion. Regardless of how the theologians splice it, Jesus is present with us when break the bread and drink the cup to remember his death and celebrate his resurrection. The effects of his presence are tangible.
How does this manifest? This may mean that we sense his presence in a unique way. We may experience healing. We may encounter him. He may speak to us. Yes, if He is present, would He not speak to us? Imagine gathering around the table with good friends and the host stays silent and does not say a word. That would be odd, wouldn’t it?
We should expect the presence of the Lord to increase when we come to the table and dine with him. What a great experience it is when friends share a meal together. It is often an enriching time. We should be enriched in a variety of ways when we celebrate Communion together.
My favorite story of Agnes Sanford, one of the pioneers of the healing movement, is when she entered a sanctuary of a church and did not genuflect upon approaching the altar with the reserved sacrament. You have to remember that she is operating in an Episcopal environment. The bishop asked her why she did not genuflect. She responded by saying, “He’s not there.” When the bishop became curious enough, he opened up the ambry and discovered, as Agnes had indicated, that it was empty. Thus, “He” was not there.
This is not superstitious. Agnes was simply a person who had become very sensitive to the presence of the Lord regardless of the context. We can cultivate the same kind of sensitivity, especially when it comes to the celebration of Communion.
By Ralph Veenstra