Holy Communion fulfills the acknowledged needs for belonging and community. It does this on a deeper spiritual level that goes beyond the community gathered in one place. In Holy Communion we are connecting with all the followers of Christ the world over.
Imagine committing to a marriage, then never again hearing the words “I love you.” That would be a cold relationship and a marriage that was hard to endure. We all need to be re-assured by actions and words that we are still loved. Communion is that assurance of love.
Some believe human beings are always sinful and in need of constant grace. If you qualify for it, Holy Communion is the reassurance that sins are forgiven here by God. However, I liken that view to having a parent that says “I will only love you if you always do exactly what I tell you to do.” I don’t picture God as that kind of parent and I hope you don’t either.
In these traditions the breaking of bread is done in such a way as to conjure up images of Jesus’ body broken on the cross. However, the word used in scripture refers to dividing something to share it. The imagery should not suggest a broken body, but a meal where all are welcome.
In the ritual of Holy Communion we receive the pledge (sacramentum in Latin) that we are part of the Body of Christ and connected to God and to each other in the Family of God. For many ancient cultures sharing the cup and the breaking of bread was acknowledging a bond between the participants. The meal began with the head of the house tearing apart a loaf of bread and sharing it as if to say “you were welcome in this home.” In the church, we acknowledge to all who participate that they are welcome and we consider them to be part of the family that is made up all who follow the way of Jesus.