Frequently Asked Questions
Every day is filled with open invitations from God to enjoy and commune with him in every area of our lives. Communion is a special invitation to spiritual growth. It is often called a sacrament (a religious ceremony) because it reminds us of what Jesus did on the cross and so is sacred. As the old Anglican Catechism put it, it is a “physical token that expresses a spiritual reality” and an “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”
Why take communion?
It is an essential act of worship.
Communion, sometimes called the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper, is an essential act of worship in Christian churches. This ceremonial ritual is rooted in the ancient history of the people of Israel and the Jewish Passover feast. The Passover was a prophetic signpost pointing toward the great and final sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In what has come to be called the Last Supper, Jesus shared Passover with his most intimate followers on the night he was betrayed. At that Passover, Jesus taught his disciples that the meal was a symbol that pointed to him. He was the spotless lamb whose body was broken and whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins. When faith is present, communion is a dynamic event and a channel of God’s love. When we take communion, we share bread and the fruit of the vine, remembering our Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf. We also celebrate the new covenant relationship believers have with God by faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. And we commune with him through faith by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The bread and juice (or wine) are symbols that represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is present when we take communion and he draws us into intimate friendship with God. We give thanks to him for his sacrifice on the cross that makes this friendship possible. We gratefully acknowledge that our redemption is anchored in his finished work of atonement. We remember that he died in our place for our sin. Now he lives in us. And we live in him, and are united with him in his death and resurrection. So we worship saying, “Thank you for your body, broken for me. And your blood, shed for me—even me!”
What is communion?
In communion we share in proclaiming Christ’s death: Communion is a picture of Christ’s sacrifice. Breaking bread symbolizes his body broken for us. Pouring out the cup proclaims his blood poured out for us. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).
In communion we share in the benefits of Christ’s death: “Take eat; this is my body” (Mt. 26:26). Jesus said this as a metaphor, a picture, symbolizing that his body would be broken for our sins. When we eat the bread and take the cup, we symbolically share in the benefits earned for us by the sacrificial atoning death of Jesus.
In communion we share in receiving nourishment and refreshment for our souls: We spiritually feed on Christ in our hearts by faith and so are strengthened for our journey. Jesus said, I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever (John 6:53-57).
In communion we share in the unity of believers: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17). And so we join with all Christians who, throughout the ages and all over the globe, worship the Risen Christ.
What happens to us when we take communion?
Jesus affirms his love for us: Jesus invites us to communion, to come into his Holy Presence and receive his love, acceptance and forgiveness. Receive it personally, freely and abundantly.
Jesus affirms that the blessings of salvation are reserved for us: Jesus invites you to come and share with us in the benefits of his victory won at the cross. Communion is a foretaste of the feast prepared for us at the King’s banquet table when he comes again.
And we affirm our faith and love for Jesus: As we take communion, we acknowledge our personal sins were part of the cause of Jesus’ suffering and death. We acknowledge forgiveness is found by his gift to us individually. We receive it by trusting him.
Who should share in communion?
Like those first followers, if Jesus is your Lord and Treasure, you too are invited to join God’s people and experience this spiritual blessing! But communion is for those who genuinely believe Jesus rose from the dead. If you’re not sure whether you are ready to trust Jesus as your Savior and King, communion is a good time to take that next step in your spiritual journey.
Those who believe in Christ: Because communion is a sign of being a Christian and desiring to continue to follow Jesus, those who believe should take communion. If you’ve not been baptized you may take communion—but be baptized soon! Children not yet baptized should not take communion, but if they are believers, parents may permit it.
Those who honestly examine their moral and spiritual life: For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:23-32).
Our prayer for you. . .
We don’t claim to be the only true church. Good churches may differ in small ways in their theological viewpoints about communion. But our prayer is that you experience God’s Living Word and Holy Spirit when you take communion here at Trinity Vineyard Church. And if you take it with faith, we believe God will meet you with his holy love, spiritually refresh you and strengthen you to follow Jesus.
© 2002 by Jonathan W. Panner, Austin Hills Church. All rights reserved. Copyright notice: Permission granted to reproduce this brochure (no attribution necessary) for non-profit use in churches.