The last couple times I’ve led communion I’ve been asking the question, “What is Communion?” We’ve been looking at the Greek word itself, “koinonia.” So far we’ve found that koinonia (“communion”) encompasses several key meanings. Communion means:
- Participation – Spiritual union with Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
Communion begins by participating in a relationship with God himself through Christ Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. So communion is first about loving God, our vertical relationship. But communion isn’t just about developing your relationship with God. There’s also a horizontal dimension.
- Fellowship – Loving relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ (Acts 2:42)
Communion is meant to help us love God but also help us love each other. Koinonia can also mean fellowship. Together, we gather around not just a table but Christ Jesus himself. He’s our focus. If we came to this table alone we would miss out on half of the picture of what the Lord’s Supper is. This is why we take communion as a church. But I also think there’s another dimension to communion that ties into Christmas.
- Sharing – Giving to those in need (Romans 15:26; Hebrews 13:16)
Koinonia means sharing. It means giving. Here’s that same word “koinonia.”
Romans 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. (NIV®)
Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NIV®)
I think sharing first speaks of loving and caring for our church family. We give to each other when we see each other’s need. But I don’t think our giving stops with our family, but can reach outside of our family to bless our community and anyone in need. In communion, Christ Jesus shared his body and blood with us. He gave his life as a sacrifice so that we can have ours. Jesus inspires us to give our lives to those around us, our church family, and a hurting world.
So communion is vertical, it reminds me to love God, it is horizontal, it reminds us to love each other, and it is self-sacrificial, it reminds us to give to those in need. So as we receive the gift of communion, we can give thanks for those in need we have already given to —whether through the benevolence fund or Market Basket gift cards or some other way— and we can pray over how God still might be asking us to give. Pray about how you can share this Christmas season.
As we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper together I want to encourage everyone who has received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ to take communion. Please don’t deny this gift. Receive it. And if you haven’t yet received this gift, you can confess yours sins and believe in Jesus right now and receive the gift of salvation, and then take the supper. But if you haven’t yet received that gift, please just let the gift of the Lord’s Supper pass you by. But for all who have received the gift of Jesus, let me pray, and we will share in communion.
Pastor Jonathan Romig wrote this reflection on the Lord’s Supper.