(This is a mediation shared with my local church to prepare our hearts for communion. I hope the gospel of grace in Jesus encourages you.)
We often call this time together “communion.” Do you ever ask yourself why we use that word? If you look up definitions for the word “communion,” it means to be united, to be one, to share intimacy together or to participate in something together. The word likely combines two Latin phrases: com, meaning “with,” and unus, which means “oneness” or “unity.” The Latin-speaking Catholic church referred to this as communion because it was with oneness or unity.
In the communion meal, we celebrate that Jesus Christ can bridge huge dividing lines. We were not born in communion with God or with others in any true or deep sense. Before Christ we did not experience communionbut we experienced contention.
Ephesians 2 diagnoses these two great fault-lines or divides we need healing and reconciliation in. In the first half of Ephesians 2 we’re told about the great gulf between a holy God and sinful men and women. We are born dead in sin and children of wrath—meaning we are deservingly under the righteous judgment of God. Our sin makes us enemies of God who are not only far from him but at war with him.
And yet, Ephesians 1:4 takes a beautiful turn with the words, “but God.” We’re told that through Jesus enemies are now made sons and daughters. The dead are given life. The dirty are made clean. Those under wrath are forgiven because Jesus paid their sin and now they are justified because Jesus gave them his perfect righteousness. Through the shed body and blood of Jesus we then enter into communion with God.
But, that’s not the only kind of communion Christians enter into. In the second half of Ephesians 2 we see the horizontal divide among humans. The example is that of Jew versus Gentile, two groups with an “against them” mindset. But this is indicative of a human problem where we are born not only opposed to God but at war with each other. We’re described as alienated strangers far from each another.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen and felt this in the last few weeks. Divides and fears between race in our country remind us people are at odds and need healing. We are divided over wealth and class, over political parties and candidates, and over views related to our rights. The recent murders in our country demonstrate human beings are in contention. Apart from Christ, we in this room would have all kinds of reasons to not be in fellowship, to not get along, and to be divided.
Verse 13 gives us another “but God” story of reconciliation. Jesus takes divided, hostile groups and brings them together through his blood. He creates union and communion where formerly there was only unrest and contention. He unites us as sinners saved by grace. He turns strangers into spiritual siblings. We here, though different in many ways, are united in Christ. We belong to one another.
So when we eat this meal together we rejoice in the fact that God has made us into a family that can love and enjoy one another. We look across the table and see each other as friends and equals, and we remember that Jesus himself is the one who purchased and creates such unity or communion.
As the elements pass hold onto them and we’ll take them together as one body. If you’re here and are not a Christian, which is to say you’ve never asked Jesus to be the solution for healing the distance between you and God, then we’d encourage you just to let the elements pass. Our prayer is that you would see the beauty of Jesus and come to him by faith. For those partaking this morning, use this time to reflect on and rejoice in the communion Christ purchases for us, vertically and horizontally.
Today we celebrate and proclaim the communion Jesus purchased for sinners, both communion with God and communion with one another. Those divides could never be bridged had Jesus not become a mediator. So we take the bread, representing the body of Jesus that was broken for us. And we take the juice, representing the blood of Jesus that covers our sin and creates union.