For the first time in almost 20 months, we are passing communion trays up and down the aisles and across the rows on Sunday mornings here at GCR Church. And I would urge you and your church, if you’re not already, to begin doing the same.
The original Greek word for “communion” in the New Testament is koinonia. It means “sharing together.” Fellowship. Partnership. It’s a communal word that describes a communal event. Community. Togetherness. The Church in the New Testament expressed and experienced the righteous relationships they had with God and with one another with frequent and regular thanksgiving meals. Fellowship meals. Communion meals. We shared our food and drink with one another. We served each other and were served by each other. The meal fed us, but it also formed us. It taught us. It reminded us that we belong to one another and we are saved in order to share with and to serve one another.
Over the centuries the Church has watered down the meal itself to almost nothing. It’s not a celebratory feast anymore, it’s a solemn snack. We took the Church’s meal from a full fellowship supper to an individualized, introspective crumb and a sip. Even then, as awful as that is, we always retained the practice of serving and receiving; of making eye contact with the person serving you or the person you are serving; of recognizing the relational aspect of Church and the blessings we share together in Christ.
With COVID, we lost even that.
For years, I had imagined there was no way we, specifically in Churches of Christ, could make the Lord’s Meal any more individualistic. But COVID made the unimaginable our new reality. For more than a year-and-a-half, most of our churches, including us at GCR, have been using those rip-n-sip disposable communion kits. We completely stopped serving others and began serving only ourselves. For 20 months we grabbed our own little plastic container of Chiclets and juice, ripped off the tops, and served ourselves.
Christians never take communion; we receive communion, we are served communion. Except for the past year-and-a-half. We took communion. This new way of eating and drinking has been shaping us, too, and it’s not good. We’re able to eat and drink independently of anyone else. That forms us. Our practice during the Supper has been to only serve ourselves. That becomes habit. It has become habit.
At GCR, we are no longer willing to eschew the serving and sharing character of the Lord’s Supper that our God always intended. It’s gone on long enough. We’re passing trays again. Eye-contact is in again. Participating with one another to make sure everybody eats and drinks is in again. And the reviews have been wildly encouraging. Overwhelmingly positive. We’re talking during the passing of the trays; we’re teaching our kids, sharing encouraging words. Fellowship. Community. Koinonia. Serving and sharing are the nature of the meal again.
Okay, it’s still not a meal. But one thing at a time.