On Christmas Eve, during communion, someone said something profound.
As usual, I was serving the bread. As usual, I told each person that that they were receiving “the body of Christ, broken for you.” As usual, most people ate the bread in silence. But one person gave a unique verbal response:
At first, I internally giggled. This seemed like one of those Seinfeldian socially awkward moments, like a ticket-seller telling me to enjoy the movie and me responding, “You, too.”
But as the service ended and time passed, I realized that there is a profound truth in these two words. “The body of Christ broken for you; and you, too.” Or even better: “Y’all, too.” Because this body wasn’t broken solely for any one person’s benefit, but for everyone’s.
In communion we acknowledge this because we don’t celebrate it individually, but always as a gathering of Christians. In communion we take one loaf of bread, break it once to remember Christ’s body broken for us, and then break it many times more to put a piece of that body within each of us. Literally, a part of Christ in each of us, and all those parts together make up the whole.
This is a strong reminder of how Christ intends us to live each day: united in Him as one body.
Just a few days ago I was sitting in the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem getting a vivid reminder of this. It was the last day of our 9-day pilgrimage around the Holy Land. We were tired. We had seen more churches than we could count. Expecting this to be one more like the others, we entered and followed our Bishop’s instructions to be seated. Then, he asked us to sing… and listen.
The Crusaders who built this church in the 1100s to commemorate the traditional birthplace of Mary created a sanctuary with almost indescribable acoustics. As we sang, our voices floated up to the ceiling and melded together to form a song more beautiful than any I’ve ever paid to hear. Even after we stopped singing, the notes bounced around and continued to praise God.
This especially impressed me because my voice isn’t one that anyone would ever pay to hear; and yet, this church took it and made it something beautiful. Those in our group with strong singing voices likewise commented that something about the sanctuary made them sing more quietly than usual. We became of one song, one voice – united in our praise for Christ.
When you attend worship, you will feel naturally united with some folks, Christ or no Christ. You might share a hobby or root for the same team or have kids the same age. Then there will be others with whom you feel like you share nothing in common. Communion reminds us of the truth: Christ is in each of us. Christ is the most important thing we can share in common, and if we have Christ in common, we have a great deal in common.
One body of Christ was broken for all of us.
Likewise, in Christ we are united as one body.
May we claim that union so that God turn our lives into one beautiful song.