Communion services at WCC
A key element of most churches is the celebration of "Communion" or the "Lord's Supper". Most churches celebrate this in some form but often for different reasons. We think it will be helpful for you to know what we do here at WCC and why.
The Communion Service is a wonderful way to proclaim how our Savior has delivered us from our sins! Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:26: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” The Communion Service is a time for us to remember the meaning and purpose of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and the severity of our sin that put Him there.
We typically celebrate Communion on the first Sunday of each month. It's usually held towards the end of the service, after the sermon but before the closing song, and usually takes about 10 minutes. We use juice instead of wine and usually unleavened bread. We also pass gluten free bread on the same tray as the traditional bread.
We call it "Communion" because it represents the fellowship and communion we have with the Lord and one another. The bread and juice point to Christ's body & blood as the sole basis for our fellowship with God and one another.
The ceremony is modeled after the Last Supper where Jesus instituted the New Covenant. Matthew 26:26-28 records this event saying, “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
The bread of the Last Supper (and thus the Communion Service) represents Christ's body. This underscores our need for a human Savior. Hebrews 10:4 says, "It is impossible for blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." The Old Testament sacrificial system pointed to the true sacrifice which was Jesus Christ. Thus, Hebrews 10:5 explains that Jesus' body was prepared as a sacrifice when it says: "…SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME…"
The juice represents the blood of Christ which was shed for us. Leviticus 17:11 says that blood is necessary for our atonement (i.e. the covering and cleansing of our sins). Hebrews 9:22 says "…without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins."
Here are a few more verses that explain how Jesus' blood atones for our sins:
- Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…
- Romans 5:9 “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
- 1 John 1:7 “…the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
So, when we participate in the Communion Service, we are coming to God, together as His people, remembering that our fellowship with Him is through the death and resurrection of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ whose blood covers and cleanses our sins.
Christ's blood also inaugurated the New Covenant. A "covenant" both a promise and commitment from God to His people. In the Bible, covenants were signified with blood. Thus, during the Last Supper, Jesus said, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." This "New Covenant" initiated a new relationship with God where His Spirit dwells within us and cause us to keep His commands (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Thus, there is a sacred solemnity to the service. When we begin the ceremony, we typically give a warning from 1st Corinthians 11 which says that no one should participate in the service in an unworthy manner. An "unworthy" way of participating might include such things as a) not being a Christian b) not being in a reverent frame of mind c) unrepentantly holding onto any known sin.
Since partaking of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner puts the individual at risk, we typically include a time of reflection so that we can all examine our hearts, our motives, and our relationships with God and others to see if there is any area that needs to be bought to the cross and cleansed by God's grace. If a person finds that there is "something" in their life that they are unwilling to surrender to the cross, they should let the bread and juice pass. Usually this means simply passing the tray to the person next to them. We won't judge that person, in fact, it usually points to a person who fears God and takes His Word and His righteousness seriously.
Likewise, we encourage parents to closely monitor their children--while we don't regulate who takes communion, because we take the warnings of 1st Corinthians 11 seriously, we advise parents to watch over their children and be sure they are truly born again and walking in fellowship with Christ, if they are to take communion.
So why do we do this at all? Even though this is a sacred ceremony, we call it a "celebration" because we are celebrating what Christ has done for us. It's a bit like glancing down at one's wedding ring as a visual reminder of the bond we have with our spouse. The ring itself is not the basis of our bond but a joyful reminder of the relationship with have. Likewise, the Communion ceremony is not the basis of our relationship with the Lord, but it is a sacred reminder of who we are in Christ and what it means to be in fellowship with Him and His people.
This is just a basic overview of the Communion Service, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!