A few days back, I began a discussion of things that I believe bind us together as believers;  characteristics that define us as a community.  It’s a broad topic, with a lot of possibilities for subject matter, but I believe that the primary things that knit together are as follows:

1) We are a people of Baptism.

2) We are a people of Communion.

3) We are a people of Creed.

We’re continuing on in our discussion of “The Ties that Bind” today with a look at Holy Communion.  You may call it the Eucharist, Mass, or just the Table.  Regardless of the label, or whether you believe in transubstantiation or consubstantiation,  there is great power in communion when it is regarded as a sacrament.  The bread and wine, whether you subscribe to the idea that they  become the actual body and blood of Christ, that the Holy Spirit is present, or that they represent the essence of the flesh and blood of Christ, are  wonderfully divine mysteries that knit us together as believers.

It’s been said that if baptism is the starting line for our spiritual journey, then communion is the food for the journey.  It’s an intimate contact between ourselves and Jesus.  The sacramental view of the table hold that it is a means of grace,  nourishing us, so that we can better live out our faith in our daily lives.   The Spirit refreshes and restores us through communion, but it’s not only an intimate transaction between us and the Spirit.

It’s a family meal.

I Corinthians 10:17 says that “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread”.  As we perform the individual transaction of communion, we become a part of a bigger reality, The Body of Christ.  Martin Luther wrote that “The communion table is the only place where we can enjoy communion with God, and community with each other.” 

Most churches with sacramental traditions have liturgies that reflects the corporate nature of communion.  We confess our sins corporately; lift our hearts to God together; and we pray the Lord’s Prayer together (The language of the Prayer directly implies that it’s not only meant to be prayed individually, but also corporately…”Our father..give us today our daily bread…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”).  Finally, we give thanks to Christ for the mystery of the communion table, together.

I love the show “Blue Bloods”.  My deepest prayer is that Tom Selleck might be plotting a comeback as Thomas Magnum, PI.  As a teenager, I was insanely jealous of his Ferrari, full mustache, and incomparable ability to have relatively innocent hook ups with exotic  women without even trying.  I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with the topic, though, and likely indicates the depths of my depravity.   Magnum’s shorts were too short, by the way.  I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, back to Blue Bloods.  One of my favorite parts of the show is the inevitable scene where the family meets for Sunday night dinner.  The entire family comes together every week and enjoys a feast.  The meal is always prepared by their father, and it is never mundane.  No hot dogs or PB&J.  It’s sumptuous,  and my wife and I generally have to snack immediately after watching, to stop the salivation and fantasies about eating the meal we’ve just observed.  The people gathered at the table are different.  They have different ideologies, different philosophies and are at different stages in life.  They are different, but bound together by two things: 

1)  They are bound by blood.  They are a family.  They are different, but they have a common father, a like history.  The bond of blood is inescapable.  They may not always like each other, but the bond of blood requires that they love each other.  The table may be surrounded by people who bicker and fight and moan, but there is no doubt whatsoever that they would absolutely give their lives for one another.

2) They are bound by calling.  The Reagan family is a family of policemen and lawyers.  Their grandfather was a police officer, their father is a police officer, the sons are police officers, the daughter works in the district attorney’s officer, and even a young grand-daughter has aspirations of entering law enforcement one day.  They are unique individuals, with one common purpose, the enforcement and defense of the law.  They are passionate about what they do.