I love literature. And I love that there are so many different elements that go into what makes a good story. For instance, many times, it’s the nuanced details that, if you’re paying attention, are what can weave what would have been a dull and lifeless novel into a beautiful literary tapestry. You’ll know it when you find it, because usually it’ll turn out to be the kind of story full of such rich detail you can’t help but become absolutely immersed into the lives of the characters and the world they live in.
In the same way I love that as we search the scriptures, we can find, focus, and meditate on those small details, not for ammunition to quibble and argue over, but to slowly contemplate what it is that is being said, and how we can apply those details to our lives.
This week I have found myself trying to prepare a communion meditation for Sunday. I say trying, because I have found myself caught up in one of those nuanced details. Out of all the scripture on the Lord’s Supper, from the Gospels, to Paul’s writings, and even to the Passover scriptures, I find that I cannot help but become fixated on the simple fact of what we are doing as we break bread, and that is proclaiming. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that “every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” I think much of the time we take this notion to rightly emphasize Jesus’ suffering leading up to and on the cross. We focus on the unjust nature of Jesus’ death and His incredible sacrifice. But I think that comes up short. Yes, we emphasize these facts, and they should be emphasized, but we are doing something so much more.
As we partake in Communion, both with each other in our congregations and our fellow brothers and sisters throughout the world, we are, as N.T. Wright puts it, “actually announcing to the world around, to the principalities and powers that keep people enslaved and fearful and angry, that Jesus is Lord, and that his death has broken the power of sin and fear and sorrow and shame.” He goes on to say that “This meal is therefore simultaneously part of our journey through bereavement, acting out the dying of Jesus within which our own sorrows can be held and dealt with, and also part of our mission, because it is the powerful declaration that on the cross of Jesus Christ the living God has dealt with all that distorts and defaces human life. And this meal therefor propels us out, to go into the community in the confidence that God is at work, that Jesus is Lord, [and] that the Spirit can and does heal and renew.” In other words, as we take Communion, we are in fact proclaiming the Gospel in a five calorie sermonette.
We live in a world where small actions can make huge statements, where Tweets can influence the stock market and small decisions can have a butterfly effect throughout the rest of your life. The next time you take communion, take some time to reflect on what it is you’re about to do and what exactly you are proclaiming to the world: a risen and victorious savior.