Celebrating a truly holy Communion
No accusations, no reproaches … forget all the old stuff and experience the presence of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. Chief Apostle Schneider has a special congregational project that he would like us to get involved in.
In church you can experience fellowship. You can sing, pray, even celebrate, eat, and share worries and joys—brothers and sisters in faith are also there for that. But there is another aspect to congregation, an essential mission: to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ in the midst of the congregation
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explains: “Every single Christian is called to be a true and faithful witness of Christ. Every congregation is called to be a witness of Jesus Christ. This is a particular concern of mine.” It becomes concrete, he says, during the celebration of Holy Communion, when Jesus Christ is present in the midst of His congregation in a special way. “He is present through body and blood in the consecrated host. We can try and explain to people how it is when we have fellowship with God, but our vocabulary is not nearly adequate to describe it. But when the congregation celebrates Holy Communion, we have intimate fellowship with God. At that moment—of course in an imperfect way, because we do after all still live in reality, human reality—we get, as I always say, a foretaste of the fellowship which we will have with one another and with God in His kingdom.”
Not always the same intensity
The Chief Apostle is aware of the fact that the celebration of Holy Communion cannot always be experienced in the same intensity by everyone at all times. “Because we are human and imperfect, and live in human conditions and settings, not every celebration of Holy Communion has the same intensity for us. I am very matter of fact about this. But I do think it would be wonderful if now and then the congregation would make a particular effort and resolve: next Sunday we want to have a truly special celebration of Holy Communion, and really experience: now the Lord is right among us.”
Put the past behind you
The effects will be noticeable, the Chief Apostle says. “When the congregation has truly celebrated Holy Communion and has really experienced the presence of Jesus Christ, then this congregation is a prefiguration of the kingdom of glory. There will be no more accusations or reproaches. You bypass those things that until now have been big obstacles in sharing fellowship. You definitely forget the past. Get rid of it! And then you will be able to approach the sister whom you have not greeted for ten years and say to her, ‘Come on, today is a special day. Let’s forget all that old stuff.’ I am anything but a dreamer, but deep in my heart I believe in the sacrament of Holy Communion. I believe in the presence of Jesus Christ, in the presence of His sacrifice. I believe that we receive the body and blood of Jesus in the consecrated host.”
A community project
“Brothers and sisters, this is my appeal to you. Do this from time to time. This is also an appeal to the rectors, but also a project for the whole congregation. It cannot be done by just a single member,” the Chief Apostle points out.
The congregation must constantly be aware: “We are going to celebrate Holy Communion now. We are thinking about what this really means. I have often said that the intended meaning of Jesus’ words ‘Whoever eats My flesh’ is ‘Whoever chews My flesh’. It has been softened a little by Luther because it seems terrible to gnaw or chew His flesh. But what he wanted to say was, you must really occupy yourself with its true meaning: Jesus loves me, He died for me. Sit down and take five minutes and occupy yourself with exactly these thoughts. He and I, me and Him … Jesus loves me so much that He died for me to prove His love to me before I had accomplished anything, before I even existed. Five minutes. Think about it.”
Photo: Marcel Felde