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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Holy Com­mu­ni­on

Vieraskieliset / In-english
16.11.2016 10.58

Holy Com­mu­ni­on is a sac­ra­ment, or a holy ce­re­mo­ny, where both God’s word and vi­sib­le mat­ter are pre­sent to­get­her. In Lut­he­ran Church, the two sac­ra­ments ba­sed on Christ’s com­mand­ments are bap­tism and com­mu­ni­on (Augs­burg Con­fes­si­on). Du­ring His last meal be­fo­re His suf­fe­ring and de­ath, Je­sus es­tab­lis­hed com­mu­ni­on and inst­ruc­ted His fol­lo­wers to par­ta­ke of it (Mark 14:12–25; 1 Cor. 11:23–26).

The sac­ra­ment is a mys­te­ry whose me­a­ning and inf­lu­en­ce are not ful­ly ame­nab­le to re­a­son. It is the­re­fo­re more im­por­tant to be obe­dient to Christ’s inst­ruc­ti­on and to par­ta­ke of com­mu­ni­on than to try to comp­re­hend ful­ly its pur­po­se and me­a­ning. We can, ho­we­ver, part­ly un­ders­tand com­mu­ni­on through faith and the Bib­le.

You proc­laim the Lord’s de­ath

In his let­ter to Co­rint­hi­ans Paul wri­tes about com­mu­ni­on as fol­lows: ”For as of­ten as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proc­laim the Lord’s de­ath un­til he co­mes.” (1 Cor. 11:26). In com­mu­ni­on, we thus con­fess our faith in Christ, who ato­ned for the sins of man­kind in His de­ath.

Paul wri­tes about the right way of par­ta­king of com­mu­ni­on: ”Let a per­son exa­mi­ne him­self, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any­o­ne who eats and drinks wit­hout dis­cer­ning the body eats and drinks judg­ment on him­self.” (1 Cor. 11:29.)

Lut­her te­ac­hes us that ”the po­wer and be­ne­fit of com­mu­ni­on come to all those who be­lie­ve what the words say and give un­to us” (Lar­ge Ca­tec­hism). Com­mu­ni­on does not re­qui­re strong faith, and the sac­ra­ments are not de­pen­dent on pe­op­le’s own me­rit. Yet, God’s word re­minds us of the ho­li­ness of com­mu­ni­on and the cor­rect way of ce­leb­ra­ting it. In the com­mu­ni­on pra­yer the cong­re­ga­ti­on prays that the Fat­her would send His Holy Spi­rit, so that they could par­ta­ke of com­mu­ni­on in faith and the­re­by re­cei­ve strength to live in mu­tu­al love.

Con­nec­ti­on with the body of Christ

The gos­pels tell us that Je­sus had me­als with dif­fe­rent kinds of pe­op­le. The act of sha­ring a meal had spe­ci­al sig­ni­fi­can­ce in the Je­wish cul­tu­re at Je­sus’ time. Sin­ce food was ge­ne­ral­ly scar­ce, an in­vi­ta­ti­on to share a meal was re­gar­ded as a ma­jor to­ken of friends­hip, and the meal pro­vi­ded an im­por­tant oc­ca­si­on to vi­sit with friends. The most im­por­tant desc­rip­ti­on of a sha­red meal is the story of the last sup­per in the gos­pels. At the be­gin­ning of the fes­ti­val of un­le­a­ve­ned bread, Je­sus and His dis­cip­les had gat­he­red for Pas­so­ver sup­per. At the end of this sup­per, Je­sus es­tab­lis­hed com­mu­ni­on. (Mark 14:12–25; Luke 22:14–20; 1 Cor. 11:17–29; Acts 2:42, 46.)

At com­mu­ni­on we feel con­nec­ted pri­ma­ri­ly to Christ, who is pre­sent in the bread and wine. ”The bread that we break, is it not a par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in the body of Christ? Be­cau­se there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all par­ta­ke of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16–17.) At the al­tar, we can al­so feel fel­lows­hip and love to­ward the ot­her com­mu­ni­cants and even be­lie­vers who have pas­sed away.

This is my body and my blood

The words of ins­ti­tu­ti­on are the core of the com­mu­ni­on pra­yer. They are words spo­ken by Je­sus at His last sup­per, which have been re­cor­ded by the gos­pel wri­ters. God’s word, the words of ins­ti­tu­ti­on spo­ken be­fo­re com­mu­ni­on, make the or­di­na­ry bread and wine be­co­me the com­mu­ni­on host and wine. When re­cei­ved du­ring com­mu­ni­on, the host and the wine are ”the true body of Christ in bread and wine” (Lar­ge Ca­tec­hism). The bread and wine are the­re­fo­re not on­ly sym­bo­li­cal­ly Je­sus’ flesh and blood. Ho­we­ver, they are not conc­re­te­ly Je­sus’ flesh and blood, eit­her. Just as Je­sus was si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly hu­man and the Son of God, so al­so the bread and wine ta­ken at com­mu­ni­on are si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly both or­di­na­ry bread and wine and Christ’s flesh and blood.

For the for­gi­ve­ness of sins

At com­mu­ni­on we are re­min­ded of the sal­va­ti­on ac­comp­lis­hed by Je­sus. We are strengt­he­ned by the be­lief that the bread and wine are the flesh and blood of Je­sus gi­ven and shed on our be­half for the for­gi­ve­ness of our sins.

Com­mu­ni­on gi­ves us strength and con­fi­den­ce in Christ. It gi­ves us strength to be­lie­ve con­fi­dent­ly that our sins are for­gi­ven and to set­t­le mu­tu­al dis­pu­tes. In that way, too, com­mu­ni­on is a holy sup­per of grace that nur­tu­res our faith.

Do this in re­memb­ran­ce of me

Je­sus ex­hor­ted His fol­lo­wers to par­ta­ke of com­mu­ni­on in re­memb­ran­ce of Him. In the com­mu­ni­on pra­yer we are re­min­ded of God’s good works of sal­va­ti­on: cre­a­ti­on, the prop­he­cies of the fu­tu­re Mes­si­ah, and fi­nal­ly, Je­sus who is Him­self pre­sent in com­mu­ni­on.

Com­mu­ni­on is a holy sup­per of thanks­gi­ving where we prai­se God to­get­her with ”an­gels and all the saints”. At com­mu­ni­on we al­so feel a gra­te­ful ex­pec­ta­ti­on of the joy and bliss that we will ex­pe­rien­ce in he­a­ven one day. The words spo­ken by Je­sus at the first com­mu­ni­on re­mind us of our ul­ti­ma­te goal: ”I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine un­til that day when I drink it new with you in my Fat­her’s king­dom.” (Matt. 26:29).

Text: Ant­ti Koi­vis­to

Sour­ce: Ajan­koh­tais­ta 2013, Siu­naus (Ti­me­ly to­pics 2013, Bles­sing )

Trans­la­ti­on: S.-L. L.

Jul­kais­tu eng­lan­nin­kie­li­ses­sä nu­me­ros­sa 16.11.2016


Sy­vyy­des­tä minä huu­dan si­nua, Her­ra. Her­ra, kuu­le mi­nun ää­ne­ni. Ps. 130:1-2

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