1 Corinthians 11
Transubstantiation. It’s a big word that means the belief that when communion bread and wine are taken, they literally become the body and blood of Christ. The Catholic church holds this view.
A friend of mine was sharing a story recently of a visit to a Catholic church in which he discussed this with the priest. The priest explained how it was because of this belief that the Catholic church began the tradition of priests placing the communion wafers directly into the mouths of parishioners.
You see, if the bread literally is the body of Christ, how awful if it were to fall and break on the floor. The lay people of the church did not want to bear this responsibility. They felt more secure in only having priests handle such a precious treasure. And thus began this now common tradition.
My friend went on to share how he had asked the priest how this played out when they administer the tiny morsel of communion bread to babies upon baptism. What if the baby spits the bread up?
The priest has to eat it.
Yup. Let’s just leave that there and read a couple of verses from our chapter in Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 11: 27-28
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
Have you ever felt that taking communion can become rote? Something you do without really thinking?
Clearly God cares that we take this exercise seriously. But can we agree that we should find a happy medium between mindlessly consuming the bread and the cup and having to eat baby spit-up?
What this passage encourages me to do, and I encourage you to do, is to be mindful during the communion service. How?
- Always always always take a moment to pray and examine your heart before the Great God of the universe.
- Humble yourself.
- Be quiet.
- Look around your church and ask God how you can build unity among the body (this instruction from Paul comes, after all, in a section of his letter instructing the Corinthian church on getting along at church).
- Think about the fact that the last time Jesus participated in this it was the night before he died for you. Maybe thank him for that.
- Realize that the next time Jesus participates in this he will have come again. Wow! Maybe ask him how you can get ready for that.