Is communion bread literally the body of Christ? Is communion simply a memorial of Christ? The Lord’s Supper is a core practice for those of us who take the name of Jesus, but we are not always sure how to understand it. Fortunately Jesus meets us in the supper, whether or not we have a correct understanding. Still, it is worth chewing on what the NT tells us about the Eucharist.
The different names we use, stress different dimensions. “Eucharist,” meaning thanksgiving, reminds us how Jesus gave thanks for food, even when it symbolized his own death. We also should give thanks in all circumstances, for God provides and God works for good. The term “Lord’s Supper” reminds us that Jesus is the host giving himself to us and for us.
“Communion” is a term worth chewing on. It derives from the Greek word koinonia, commonly translated in the New Testament as “fellowship, “participation,” or “sharing.” In 1 Corinthians 10:16-22, Paul describes the supper as a koinonia in the body and blood of Jesus. This, I suggest, helps us understand the metaphysics of communion–provides insight into how it works.
My recent essay for Essays For King Jesus by Anabaptist Perspectives explores the Lord’s supper as fellowship in the context of 1 Corinthians. You can read or listen to the full essay their.