BTC – Phase 4 – Lesson 1
Communion – Overview
By Chaplain Ann M. Wolf
Communion – An Overview – A time to pause, refresh our souls and remember the love & mercy of God…
Becoming Christ-Like: Communion involves “Belief” in that we reflect on the past as well as on what occurred in the life of Jesus some 2000 years ago. Yet, as we “Remember” we are also reminded of what is possible for our souls to achieve by the Mercy & Grace of God. This process of spiritual transformation, from being “flesh-motivated souls” to “spiritually-minded souls” requires an entreat-able (humble & teachable) nature as well as a vigilant focus on the Spirit (which is the Christ in us). And so we seek the Spirit to “discern our hearts and motives” on a regular basis as we grow. Communion presents such an important opportunity in which to turn to the New Man (The Seed of the Spirit within us) and ask for any remaining “tare” (false wheat or hindering element) to be brought to our attention for healing and cleansing, that we might approach the Lord’s Table with a clean heart.
Overcoming the “old” with the help of the Spirit of God: It is likely that all of us struggle from time to time with “old knee jerk” reactions left over from the habits of the flesh-nature. By the “old nature” we may not be able to consistently forgive or hold Mercy in the face of life’s challenges and painful events. But via the New Nature (by the Spirit) we can forgive, which is why we need the Spirit and why the examples which Jesus left us are so important to “Remember” and to draw from frequently and as often as needed. So in moving closer to the goal of becoming “Christ-like,”… during Communion, we also remind ourselves that we have been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost (Grace), which is the Seed of His Spirit along with the Power of the Resurrection, to lift us, to enable us, and to carry us where we cannot go without that help.
We ask the Spirit at Communion time, not only to discern our hearts and motives, but also to show us where we might need to come up higher in our Love Walk. Then, after we are clear and responsive to what “chastening” or encouragement that there is to receive from the “Greater He” within us, we move on to partake of the Bread and Wine in celebration of our New and wonderful Covenant.
“My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)
“But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”- 1 Corinthians 11:32 (KJV)
More on the role of the Holy Spirit, helping us to grow spiritually: At the inception of our relationship with Jesus, we celebrate our commitment to our Shepherd as well as our commitment to apply the same mercy to others which we have been given. Our Token to God with regard to these values is our Water Baptism. But we also become candidates (as we enter the Body & exit the water), to ask for and receive the “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” which is The Spirit (Holy Spirit) or Grace. By this “Gift” we can know that it is the Spirit which carries the inherent power, divine perspective, and wisdom we need to ultimately undergo the change in natures from “flesh-minded” to “spiritual.”
Another Comforter: Jesus alluded many times to “something wonderful” which he would send at some point to those in the Body, referring to this special “help” as the “Spirit of Truth” (in John 15:26 KJV) or as the “The Comforter who would come” (in John 16:7 KJV) or “Another Comforter” that the Father would give us, as we see in the all-important verse, John 14:16-17 (KJV).
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you Another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and I shall be in you.”
But before these things could pass, He also did say that.. “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” – John 16:7 (KJV)
So, the followers were informed by Jesus, that after He departed, some “Spirit” of encouragement and guidance would be sent; though until it arrived, they knew not what it would be or the powerful effect that it would have. But they were comforted in knowing this: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 (KJV)
When the Gift of Grace was given: The first time that Grace (The Holy Spirit/Seed/New Man) was reported in Scripture to have been “given,” was at Pentecost when it was said in Acts 2:3, that “there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Later that day, Peter preached to the people who had gathered and those who had ears, did hear; and on the same day, about three thousand souls came to the Lord; Peter said unto those who “believed, “And ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.”
This was noted in Scripture to have occurred in conjunction with the “Baptism” of those in attendance that day. But as pertaining to Communion, we see John 14:25 (KJV)…“But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
So via our souls, our minds, and our hearts, we experience this “Remembrance” at Communion time, recalling Jesus and his many shining examples of Love in action, but especially of His many commandments to us, to “also do” as he has shown us in verses such as…“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”- Matthew 22:37- 40 (KJV)
With the help of the “Gift of the Holy Ghost,” which is the “Holy Spirit” within us, we also lean into that Spirit that we might “have ears ….and hear” what “saith the Spirit to us,” now at the time of our Communion, and always, as we continue to walk with the Spirit everywhere we go.
Conducting a Communion Ceremony: The final Lesson in our Communion area includes steps for a simple Communion Ceremony (Communion Script) which you are welcome to experience in the privacy of your home or in gatherings. Scripture recommends that we “do ye in remembrance of me” whenever we gather or whenever we sense the need to restore our hearts to a merciful state. There are many ways that Communion is celebrated throughout the Body of Christ and we will not imply here that there is a “right way or wrong way” to conduct a service.
Having the right heart: What we will encourage is, that we all approach Communion with the “right heart,” and that we retain a willingness to be searched by the Spirit (New Man/Greater He) for any areas of unforgiveness which we might be holding; this is done, so we can be restored to peace prior to approaching the Lord’s Table.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you…” – 2 Corinthians 13:5 (KJV)
What about other kinds of Communion Services in the Body of Christ? Though we are providing the format for a simple Communion Ceremony, if you already have a way of conducting a service that you enjoy or if you prefer to attend Communion at your gathering place, you are still welcome to join us in Spirit and “Remember” the Ways of Jesus together with us.
Perhaps our Communion Study can serve to inspire a renewed appreciation of what this ceremony can mean, or provide you with interesting information about the history and practice of Communion. Either way, we hope that you will come away from this “Room” with a heightened sense of awe regarding the Love and Mercy of Jesus as he leads and guides us through our spiritual growth process so you might truly enjoy the regular practice of this lovely ceremony which He has left for us to share with one another.
Who can conduct a Communion ceremony? All members of the Body who walk by Mercy and Grace can be considered “Kings and Priests” in the New Covenant sense, as mentioned in the first chapter of Revelations, “and hath made us kings and priests unto God.” – Rev 1:6 (KVJ)
Therefore, other than: understanding what Communion is all about, entering into it with an attitude of sober respectfulness, commitment to the process of spiritual transformation, as well as bringing to the Ceremony our deep and abiding love for God… there are no “special” training requirements listed in the Scriptures in order to be considered “qualified” to conduct a Communion ceremony in one’s home. However, to help increase understanding and appreciation of Communion, this basic training is offered as part of our BTC Study Plans and is recommended to all who partake of Communion, but especially for those who aspire to host Christian gatherings which will include Communion Ceremonies, in order to be prepared to appropriately help and encourage others.
What items do I need for Communion? You could gather together a plate or two, some small cups or glasses, bread or crackers, juice (grape) or red wine (grape), a candle, a KJV Bible and you could have your favorite spiritual CDs and music player ready as well.
I have chosen to dedicate several such items for exclusive use at Communion ceremonies; however there is no rule about this mentioned in Scripture.
When conducting Communion, I do not share cups with others (drink for the same cup), as some in the Body do during Communion; God is pleased by our faith, but common sense in avoiding contact with communicable diseases is also wisdom. For larger groups, there are Communion supplies which can be purchased from Christian outlets and stores, where the servings of bread and juice are pre-packaged and disposable.
The Bread and the Wine: As for what sort of bread to use; there are traditional unleavened breads available, but we in the Body, are of the “New,” and therefore not under any Law or Covenant which requires a specific type of bread or cracker. Really, what makes the bread and the chalice special is what they represent. We in the Body are to be the Bread (Bread as a metaphor for Mercy) and thus we remain committed to the goal of learning how to live daily as the Bread of Mercy.
As for the contents of the Cup/Chalice, this represents our New Covenant, a covenant which facilitates a deep relationship with the Spirit of God, made possible by God’s Grace (Holy Spirit). So, the bread and the wine represent both of the critical elements of a spiritual life which are: a foundation of Mercy (established by Jesus during his time on earth) and then Grace, which was sent as “Another Comforter/Spirit of Truth,” (John 14:16-18 – KJV) following his Glorification and Ascension.
Juice or Wine? As for whether to use juice or wine during Communion; well, Jesus drank wine as was customary for Jews of his time, though he did not partake of the “fruit of the vine” at the Last Supper. There are only a few instructions for us regarding the consumption of wine listed in the New Testament, among which are that: leadership should not be “given to wine” or in other words, leadership should not be addicted to wine (1 Timothy 3:3 KJV) and that we should “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 KJV). Again, these Scriptures emphasize “consumption without excess,” but do not actually instruct us never to drink wine.
However, out of respect for the different “cultural views” of participants, for their health or other personal needs which we might not be aware of in our congregation, we generally use juice for Communion. What’s important here is to participate in Communion as well as any other “feast” or celebration, with a motive of Love, which would have us remain interested in the comfort and well-being of others around us.
“Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (KJV)
Preparing for Communion: As already mentioned, a suggested program, “The Communion Service Script” is available at the Conclusion of our Phase regarding Communion which you are welcome to use during personal or group worship time. Here are some “elements” which are included in that Script following the opening of the Ceremony:
- Moment of Silence: We pause for a moment of silence to ask the New Man by the Holy Spirit, to bring to our attention any areas of our love walk where we might need to come up higher; we also ask to be shown by God, any areas of unforgiveness that we might be holding.
- Praying for One Another: We then pray for “the right heart” regarding our own soul as we also pray for each other, that we all might be able to “Stand” and hold to the Spirit throughout the challenging circumstances and events of life.
- Support in applying mercy: In the gatherings of the original church, deacons, elders or other spiritually mature leadership were known to assist members of their congregation during Communion by the laying on of hands and by praying that God would send extra strength and wisdom to individuals who requested this help. Since we see no reason why we can’t continue this tradition today, we also pause to offer special prayer for one another at this point in the service, when needed, as all of us appreciate support from time to time in “moving the mountain” from our heart. Our hope is for each soul to approach the Table of the Lord with a light heart, free of the oppression of unforgiveness.
- Approaching the altar with a clean heart: Paul also reminds us of how important it is to have the right heart during Communion in his address to the Corinthians, where he speaks of how to avoid not only the “unworthy” condition, but how that condition might be the root cause of weakness and even sickness among those in the Body:
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lords’ Body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.” – 1 Corinthians 11: 27–33 (KJV)
Conclusion: So, it is very important for members of the Body during Communion, to not only reflect on the examples from the life of Jesus, but also to make sure that we are continuing to submit to the Spirit, that we might remain merciful to others as God has been to us. It is indeed excellent to be corrected by the Spirit as we go through our spiritual journey. In the very least, we must partake of Communion with a heart that wishes to imitate Christ, even though we are not perfect in that endeavor. After all, when we participate in Communion to “Remember” what Jesus has done, this does not just represent a history lesson, but this ceremony is a reminder of what we are to live every day. Communion then becomes a way to refresh our focus and strengthen our resolve as well as our hearts, toward the goal of becoming merciful and Christ-like.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”- Matthew 5:23-24 (KJV)
Music Resources: For a playlist of videos to stream during prayer or communion time – Click Here
Ann M. Wolf – c 2014 – BMI – All rights reserved.