Communion is one of two sacraments celebrated in the United Church. It is also known as the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist. The sacrament is Baptism. Both sacraments are, for the United Church, two ways in which we symbolize the visible presence of the Holy Spirit in our community life. They are also actions intimately linked with Jesus who was baptized and later in life celebrated the Passover with his disciples. The breaking of bread and sharing of wine at Passover became, for Christians, the second sacrament, Holy Communion. So what is Communion?
Communion is celebrated at a table that suggests the dining table in our homes. At the communion table, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the host and all are guests. The meal uses the symbols of small pieces of bread and a taste of wine or juice to remind us of Jesus’ last supper with his followers and of God’s enduring love.
Throughout his ministry Jesus ate at table with friends, outcasts, and sinners. In his teachings he used the table as an image of inclusivity, hospitality, and God’s in-breaking reign. For this reason the United Church invites all who seek to love Jesus to share in this family meal.
Some Christian traditions celebrate Communion weekly or evenly daily. The practice of the United Church has been to celebrate Communion at less frequent intervals. At Parkwoods we break bread and share wine approximately once every six weeks.
When we break bread we know that symbolically this represents the brokenness of the world. In the breaking, however, we also know that we are grounded in God’s good earth. In a similar way, when we drink the wine (or grape juice in many churches, including Parkwoods) we recognize that we are united with the crushed, groaning creation. Yet in that bruising we taste the sweetness and refreshing gift of new life.
Communion, however we describe it, is part of our great thanksgiving.