A multi-atonement communion service

January 15, 2014 | Feature
By Palmer Becker | Special to Canadian Mennonite

The good news is that God came to us in Jesus Christ to reconcile us to himself and to invite us into his kingdom. The news of what God has done—and is doing—for us in Christ is so great that no single way, of explaining it is adequate. Today in this communion service we will reflect on God’s great love, his sacrificial death, his example on how to live and his victory over sin and the grave.

After solemnly observing Christ’s death with the symbol of the broken bread, we will joyfully observe his victory and continuing life among us with the symbol of the juice.

Let us pray. Lord God, just as the first Christians broke bread with glad and sincere hearts, so we also with glad and sincere hearts are gathered here to remember what you have done and continue to do among us. We ask that you receive our confessions and thanks which we express through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he 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.’”

Some of us have felt invalidated, lonely, abandoned or even rejected by God and others. This bread symbolizes God’s great love for us shown to us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”

All of us have felt guilt or shame because of thoughts, words or deeds that have gone against people, and ultimately against God and God’s will. We recognize that there is a price to pay. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” This bread symbolizes Christ’s death on our behalf.

Left to ourselves, we become empty, confused or hopelessly lost, This bread symbolizes God’s gift of an example that shows how humans are to live. “Because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that we should follow in his steps.”

God also gave us the Holy Spirit to enable us to live in his way.

So let us remember that God, through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, reconciles us to himself and to each other. Let us eat in thankfulness for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

While the bread represents the broken body and death of Christ, and the juice often represents the shed blood of Christ, let us today allow this juice to represent Christ’s victory over sin and his empowering life among us. Life is in the blood! “Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.” Just as Jesus was victorious over temptation and the evil powers that put him to death, so he enables us to have victory over that which seeks to control and destroy us.

If we are in Christ, we are a new creation! Let us rejoice today that through the life, death and resurrection of Christ we have the victory that overcomes the world. Let us raise our cups in thankfulness and drink a toast to our victorious Lord who has set us free!

Thanks be to God!

See also the feature article, Bread, acceptance and covenant and the accompanying discussion questions.

--Posted Jan. 15, 2013

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