Communion, what a strange ritual, right? Eating bread, drinking wine, remembering Jesus and his death; that he died for our sins, etc. Depressing! For the past few weeks I have wrestled with Christian traditions. I didn’t understand them; at least why we still continued to repeat what was taught to a small group of people thousands of years ago. In recent conversation with God, as I choked through my words, I honestly shared how these rituals no longer make sense and I don’t see the relevance in participating in them.
But the other day, something shifted. My perception changed and I became aware of the power of communion. I read one line that an author quoted from some theologian, and the wheels started to turn. I began to see what my friend was all gung ho about regarding communion; why he emphatically and repetitiously gave his soapbox speech on this odd religious gesture. He kept quoting Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:30, when he confronts the church on how they do not “discern” the power of communion, which is why “many of you are weak, chronically ill, and some even dying”.
Here’s where the revelation began. I was sitting in a coffee shop, waiting for a friend who never showed, because he slept past his alarm. For backup, I brought a book and while reading, this quote that I landed on moved me to tears. The quote began, “Because the Christian God, is not a lonely God, but rather a communion of three persons, faith leads human beings into the divine communion.” And the water works started flowing. Why?
The Message is in The Mirror
I believe all of life is a reflection and a mirror. It is a metaphor for Something greater. It a tangible way to describe the Divine and this Mysterious Love. If you need more proof, look no further than a fruit bearing tree or a child. The vibrant, luscious, health-inducing fruit reflects the health and strength of the tree itself. And the health and strength of the three is a reflection of the nutritious, rich soil from which it grows. Or children. The way they love reflects the way they have been loved. The extension of care and empathy towards others, means they have been shown the same from their loved ones. The examples are endless.
So, if all of life is a reflection or mirror of this Divine Presence, then when Jesus introduces this strange “ritual” to the disciples, maybe, in some way, he is pointing to something. What if, communion is not only a reflection of something Divine, but by sharing in it, we are actually stepping in to this Divine Love? What if being in this Divine Love brings instinctive healing, transformation and joy to the entire self? Science Fiction-ish, right?
In Matthew 26:26, Jesus invites the disciples into this enigmatic experience. He shares bread and says it is his body and then wine, claiming it is his blood. Why is he doing this strange thing? What is he communicating?
First off, this takes place at the Last Supper, which precedes the impending doom of Jesus’s death. He must have sensed the increase in violence and hostility from the “fundamentalists” towards him and knew his time was coming to an end. But at this moment, he is inviting them into something very intimate and transcendent; however, I assume, at this time, they had no idea how profound this act was. So, he does this bread and wine thing and talks about how it his body and blood. He shared how each must participate in this, because it “seals the new covenant” and how his blood will “be poured out…for the forgiveness of sins.”
Jesus, first off is referring to his death. And how did his death happen? The fundamentalists or pharisaical Jews wanted to annihilate him. He was blaspheming God, or the god of their own perception. And all Jesus was doing in his life, was reflecting and mirroring this Divine Love, revealing how this Presence is here and now. But some could not handle it and stirred up their own shit, to which they could not stand to see. It was too much and too terrifying. It ruptured their self-constructed securities.
But this death, is not just about death. It is about life. And it is about giving life. Jesus death was about annihilating alienation between humanity and God. The position on the cross was this powerful gesture of arms spread wide, inviting all into this Love. This vulnerable act of outpouring love was an invitation; an invitation into this Divine Communion (see where I’m going).
So, Jesus shares this bread and wine with his disciples in a very intimate moment and setting. He is revealing communion. But not a ritual or tradition to cognitively and repetitiously do for the rest of humanity. It was not an act of looking at our sins and how “underserving” we are of love. Quite the contrary. Communion, was and is this partaking and stepping into life, that Love that is constantly and continuously flowing, moving, shaking, stirring, healing, transforming drawing and inviting.
A Love That Goes into The Shadows
Jesus was reflecting the communion that exists within God. That within God, are three personalities, pouring into one another. Giving and receiving, cherishing, valuing, celebrating, seeing and turning towards each. If you need further evidence, this love is reflected through Jesus, which he explains in John 15.
Here, he says that the love he shares with his disciples is the love he has received from the Father, and it is a love he wants them to hold on to and share with all around. It is a Love that cannot be turned off, but always to be poured out. Jesus, filled with this love, empties it out to his disciples, for them to give to others. He invites them into this love and as a result of sharing it, now he wants them to do so in like.
He then says, there is no greater love than one who lays down his life for his friend. When we are in the Communion, we are so filled with Love and its healing presence and properties that we gutturally or viscerally move to bring this Healing, Transcendent Love to others; for them to encounter this Communion. This kind of Love goes into the shadows and the hiddenness and speaks Life. This kind of Love pursues those outcasted and excommunicated, hated, despised, told that they have a mental illness and are sick. This love moves in true radicalism; that is, it goes into the heart, the root, the deepest places of pain, where the wounds began and the self took shape out of those relational injuries.
This kind of love cares for those that have harmed and/or molested children. Why? Because such a Divine Love knows that those that act in such ways are trying to get back to that innocence; that innocence that was robbed from them; that child that was hated. We can imprison, kill off, segregate, separate, quarantine, etc. but it will never change humanity. This approach and mindset will only perpetuate pain, torment, hatred, division, wars, etc. Love cares for those who are seen as sick and “should” be wiped off this earth, instead healing the wounded places, listening to that buried, young pain that has steered the heart into greater wounding and loneliness, leading them into this Divine Communion and Unity.
Those that are blatantly and overtly messy, scorned, lonely, and vulnerable to the greatest harm, are impressionable and open to the most beautiful transformation. They are the ones that shine brightly with this Transformative Love, a beacon of radiating Care. This is why Jesus instructs us to go to those transparently messy, because they are not hidden and they will be the greatest displays of this Otherworldly Love, that will ripple profoundly.
An Invitation into Divine Intimacy
Jesus shares this act of communion as an invitation into the Divine Love. And he does this at a table, where food is shared. This setting is a reflection of intimacy and vulnerability, seeing each other, face-to-face, indulging in life. He is mirroring and revealing this Presence. When communion is taken, it is more powerful than we realize, which is what Paul is confronting. He is saying, “You don’t get it!” Wake up! You are in the Presence when you share in Communion. Much like the human sexual experience and how it reflects this Divine Outpouring Love that is encountered through face-to-face, emotionally-engaged intimacy.
Communion is about Life and True Living; laughing, crying, going to the pain, getting angry, rejoicing, joking, teasing, dancing, feasting, indulging, turning to one another, seeing each other, and speaking to the True Self. Communion is about uniting and sharing in this Divine Love together. It is an experience and experiencing this Presence together, moving in greater awareness of how Real and Present this Beautiful Love is.
The “bread” and “wine” is not some symbolic act, but an invitation into this Divine Presence. It is more than a reminder, but an incitement to step into this Love and connect. No wonder Paul expressed his indignance over the church’s flippant, oblivious and self-serving attitude. He knew the depths and healing power of this “act”. It was not a ritual, but an undertaking of profound awareness and movement into a very real and present Love.