46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47 I assure you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that whoever eats from it will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Maybe one of the hardest things for the Church during the time of sickness is to be cut off from the communion table. Though United Methodists don’t view the sacrament in the same way that, say, Roman Catholics do, it’s still important to us, as it has been for Christians all through history. To be kept from this source by the threat of disease is demoralizing and disheartening.
In John’s gospel, there are no words of institution (“This is my body, this is my blood”). There’s only this story, where Jesus calls himself “the living bread.” Many of his followers were so disgusted by what he said that they walked away (John 6:66).
There is a strangeness to this ritual of the Lord’s Supper. Often when I serve small children, I don’t talk about body or blood. I just say, “remember that Jesus loves you very much.”
I know that the bread and the juice don’t look like anything special. It is strange that we would choose to attach so much meaning to such basic things. But there is something intense and powerful about the idea that in order to follow him, the broken and crucified Christ needs to become literally part of who we are – absorbed into every cell of our body.
This is precisely the kind of unity we are aiming for – to be made ONE with Christ. We are called to become ONE with him in love, in service, and in sacrifice.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Can you recall a time when receiving Holy Communion made you feel particularly at one with God, with the people around you, and with yourself? What was different about that moment than all the other times when you didn’t feel experience it in the same way?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we give you thanks for the gifts of the bread and cup. We thank you that these simple things can become powerful symbols of the unity we seek. We pray that we may soon be able to return to your communion table. In the meantime, send your Spirit upon us that we may be made one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Jesus returns in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. Amen.