We often mark special occasions with a meal, for Christians Holy Communion is a very special meal because it is a means of sharing in Christ and all that he has done for us through his life, death and resurrection. It is about continuing to participate in Christ. In the service of Holy Communion we use the phrase “New Covenant”, which refers to the new relationship with God which Jesus has made possible, the relationship of adopted children of God and heirs of all the benefits Christ’s death and resurrection.
St Paul, writing to the Christians in Corinth, provides us with the earliest traditions of the church in celebrating Holy Communion (sometimes called The Eucharist).
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me”. In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “Thus cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me”. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.
1 Corinthians 11.23-36
We do we celebrate Holy Communion?
On the night before Jesus died he shared a final Passover meal (Last Supper) with his disciples. The Passover was a special meal when Jews remember and re-enact the night when God set them free from slavery in Egypt. They Jewish people believe that in remembering this event in their history the effects of it – God’s salvation – will be made present today.
At the last supper Jesus gives to his disciples a new special meal: one which remembers and makes present the greater and deeper salvation which took place when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. In receiving and sharing the bread we are reminded of Jesus given up to death for us by God and share in the benefits of his death. In drinking from the cup we are reminded of the covenant sealed in the giving up of Jesus to death and share in its benefits. This remembering transforms our present and our future (it anticipates the final feast of heaven).
In the bread and wine there is a genuine sharing in the life of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, we are renewed and strengthened in our Christians lives. There is also a bond established between the people who share in Holy Communion
Within the Church of England Holy Communion is a considered to be Sacrament – which is an outward and visible sign which in some way conveys God’s grace.