Communion (The Lord’s Supper)
“Breaking bread” means eating. “Our daily bread” means food. It is also called the staff of life, which I like: bread there, all life leaning against it. Our lives don’t lean against it anymore: we’ve decided that bread is bad for us. Our staff has broken, and that is part of why our diets seem so hard to get in balance.
Augustine of Hippo
Here below, He who has promised us heavenly food has nourished us on milk, having recourse to a mother’s tenderness. For just as a mother, suckling her infant, transfers from her flesh the very same food which otherwise would be unsuited to the babe . . . so our Lord, in order to convert His wisdom into milk for our benefit, came to us clothed in flesh.
Augustine of Hippo
If you receive this well, you are what you receive … for the loaf that contains Christ is made up of many individual kernels of grain, but these kernels must, to become the loaf containing Christ, first be ground up and then baked together by fire.
Augustine of Hippo
Call to mind what this created thing [bread] once was in the field. How the earth brought it forth, the rain nourished it, and ripened it into an ear of wheat and then human labor brought it together on the threshing floor, threshed it, winnowed it, stored it up again, took it out, ground it, added water to it, baked it, and only at that moment made it into the form of a loaf. Call to mind also: you did not exist, you were created, you were brought together to the threshing floor of the Lord by the labor of the oxen, that is, by those who announced the gospel, by their work you have been threshed.
Taken from Third Sermon: Sermon Denis 6, 1–3, Tractatus de Sacramentis Fidelium, Dominica Sanctae Paschae 20.
Augustine of Hippo
Recognize in this bread what hung on the cross, and in this chalice what flowed from His side… whatever was in many and varied ways announced beforehand in the sacrifices of the Old Testament pertains to this one sacrifice which is revealed in the New Testament.
Nowhere is God so near to man as in Jesus Christ; and nowhere is Christ so familiarly represented to us, as in this holy sacrament.
At the heart of the present significance of the Lord’s Supper is our communion or fellowship with Christ, hence the term “communion service.” In coming to this service the believer comes to meet with Christ and have fellowship with Him at His invitation. The examination takes place because it would be hypocrisy for us to pretend that we are in communion with the Holy One while actually cherishing known sin in our hearts.
Taken from “Foundations of the Christian Faith-Book 1” by James Montgomery Boice, p. 603. (c)1986 InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the USA, Revised edition. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515.
We do not go to Holy Communion because we are good; we go to become good.
I always have a funny story at communion time that underscores that no one is perfect, and that communion is not for perfect people but for hungry people.
Let us understand, therefore, that this Sacrament is a medicine for poor, spiritually sick people…And since we see only bread and wine, yet we do not doubt that he accomplishes spiritually in our souls all that he demonstrates to us outwardly through these visible signs, namely, that he is the heavenly bread that feeds and nourishes us for eternal life. So let us be grateful for the infinite goodness of our Saviour, who spreads out all his riches and goods on this table to distribute them to us.”
In every repetition of communion by presenting the sacrament God confirms his resolution to stick to his covenant; and by eating it the receiver commits himself to keep close to the condition of faith.
Every Communion is an embodiment of God’s grace. We hear God’s grace in the words that are spoken. But we also see it, hear it, touch it, and taste it in the bread and wine. God in his kindness, knowing how frail we are, knowing how battered by life we can be, also demonstrates his grace in water, bread, and wine.
Taken from Truth We Can Touch by Tim Chester, © 2020 pp.65-66. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.
God comes near to us unendingly in the bread of life, the food of resurrection. Everything has to be built up round this seed of fire.
Cyril of Alexandria
As two pieces of wax fused together make one so he who receives Holy Communion is so united with Christ that Christ is in him and he is in Christ.
Francis de Sales
When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.
There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.
Francis of Assisi
What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation …In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.
It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the Moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.
Break one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote which prevents us from dying, and a cleansing remedy driving away evil so that we should live in God through Jesus Christ.
Letter to the Ephesians 20
Clothe yourselves with meekness and be renewed in faith—that is, the flesh of the Lord—and in love—that is, the blood of Jesus Christ.
Letter to the Trallians 8
Nothing presents a starker contrast between our own day and the Reformation than the current neglect of the Lord’s Supper. . . . Today, the communion hardly features as a matter of significance. It is seen as an optional extra.
We call this food the thanksgiving [Eucharist], and the only people allowed to receive it are those who believe our teaching and have received the washing for the remission of sins and for regeneration; and who live according to the commands of Christ.
Man must eat in order to live; he must take the world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood. He is indeed that which he eats, and the whole world is presented as one all-embracing banquet table for man. And this image of the banquet remains, throughout the Bible, the central image of life. It is the image of life at its creation and also the image of life at its end and fulfillment: ”that you eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.”
That he is There (oh heavenly theme!) is as certainly true as that Bread naturally taken removes my hunger—so this Bread of Angels removes my pain, my cares, warms, cheers, soothes, contents and renews my whole being.
We cannot have communion with Christ till we are in union with Him; and we cannot have communion with the Church till we are in vital union with it.
The Eucharist is the very heart of Christian worship because it is so rich and far-reaching in its significance; because it eludes thought, eludes emotion, relies on simple contact, humble and childlike receptiveness, sense quenching soul. It mixes together the extremes of mystery and homeliness; takes our common earthly experience of suffering, love abandonment, death, and makes them inexpressibly holy and fruitful; takes the food of our natural life and transforms that into a channel of Divine Life.
[The Lord’s Supper] is a visible sermon.
We should remember that it is through Christ’s death that we are reconciled to God and each other. He has made us one, and we set our hearts on pursuing unity in love. The Lord’s Supper is a great time to pray and plan for oneness with our brothers and sisters. It is a time to explore new ways to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.
The body eaten is focused communally rather than individually, finding the Savior’s presence in the corporate consumption rather than in the elements taken in isolation.
The present moment (‘whenever’) somehow holds together the one-off past event (‘the Lord’s death’) and the great future when God’s world will be remade under Jesus’ loving rule (‘until he comes’).
The Incarnation [and I might add Communion] remains a scandal to anyone who wants religion to be a purely spiritual matter, an etherized, bloodless bliss.
Barbara Brown Taylor
When Jesus holds up the cup and offers what is in it as the fluid of forgiveness, he is not talking to people with a short list of minor sins. He is talking to people who will turn him in, who will scatter to the four winds at the first sign of trouble, and who will swear they never knew him. He is talking to people who should have been his best friends on earth who turn out not to have a loyal bone in their bodies, and he is forgiving them ahead of time, as surely as if he had said, “I know who you are. I know you will not be innocent of the blood of this cup, but I will not let that come between us. . . . Let my life become your life, through the blood of this covenant.’”
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