What is Communion?
The night before he was betrayed and killed, Jesus had a meal with his disciples. This meal was part of the Jewish Passover. During the meal he picked up a loaf of bread. Jesus prayed "Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth" He then broke it.
This bread was matzos - like a large cracker, not what we think of as a loaf. Jesus said the bread was his body which was about to be broken. He passed the bread round and told all of them to take a bit.
He then took a cup of wine and said it was his blood that was going to be spilt for them. He prayed "Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine" Passing the cup round he told the disciples to drink from it.
Still today Christians have a special ceremony when they eat and drink to remember Jesus. This ceremony is called Communion, or The Lord's Supper. Some churches call it the Eucharist or Mass.
What exactly do you do?
The person leading reads out the description of the Last Supper from the Bible. They stand at the front, behind the table, facing the congregation. Then there is a prayer thanking God for what Jesus has done for us. The person at the front picks up a loaf of bread from the table and tears it, quoting the words of Jesus: "This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me".
Other people then carry the bread, on a plate, round to each person in the meeting. People can either tear a piece off the loaf or take a bit that has already been cut off (including gluten-free bread) from the plate. As people take a piece of bread they eat it and think about Jesus dying for us.
When everyone has been served, the person at the front holds up a cup and invites everyone to drink. Other people carry round holders that have lots of little cups, as shown in the photograph on the left. Each little cup has red grape juice in. When everyone has a little cup, the person at the front invites everyone to drink at the same time.
Why don't you use wine?
Jesus used wine and all the disciples drank from the same cup. Some churches still do this. Other churches are concerned that any recovering alcoholics in the meeting would be in danger if we used wine. To avoid this we use grape juice or some other non-alcoholic drink. Alcohol kills germs which is why everyone can drink from the same cup if it contains wine. We have to use separate cups for hygiene reasons. We all drink at the same time to remind us that we are all one.
What is the point?
Taking communion reminds us of the fact that Jesus died so that we can become children of God. In a special way, Jesus is present with us when we do this. Jesus also said he would not drink wine again until he drank it in the Kingdom of God. The apostle Paul said 'Now whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes' (I Corinthians 11:26). So communion also reminds us that Jesus is coming back.
Who can take it?
We do not check on people before serving communion. We trust that people who are not ready will not take it. Communion is for those who have decided to follow Jesus. Paul warns us to examine ourselves before taking communion. If we feel guilty about something we pray to God and say sorry. If we don't feel guilty about anything we probably should do. None of us is perfect; and if we were we would probably be proud and that would be wrong. Taking communion is rather like going to see a doctor. We don't go to see a doctor when we are well, but when we know we need to be better and are ready to accept help.
We do not expect very young children to understand or take communion. Parents who are committed Christians may decide when they think their children are ready to take communion.
Why are the stories different?
The police know that when three people give evidence about an incident each person remembers different things. They may have been looking in different directions so one saw something the others didn't. If they all tell exactly the same story they must have agreed between them what to say. This is why Matthew, Mark and Luke have slight differences. Paul was not there and says he is passing on what he was told by those who were.
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