Communion. A weighty word—and relatively unpacked.

A good friend gave this wonderful, handmade communion set to me yesterday. For the past twenty-four hours, it has all but reached out and physically grabbed me. Communion? I find myself searching for what it really means. Jesus said some pretty unusual and heavy things in relation to His body, His blood, and the cross. When I look at the world and at the state of the Church, I cannot help but wonder if we have missed something.

I have been experiencing an incredible churning in my heart about the plight of orphans around the world—and those next door. Increasingly, this churning, this angst, is beating relentlessly against the walls of my heart. It is a pounding that only grows louder each time I look into the eyes of the many children around me who have no idea what it is like to be nurtured by parents who will love them forever and will not leave at the next shift change or when they need a furlough in America. Every night, many thousands of children fall asleep in institutions around the world—unwanted and abandoned—learning not that they are valued and loved, but that they are not worth belonging to a family. They are learning that they must figure out how to survive all alone, because there is no alternative.

My friends, this should never be.

The beating on my heart hastens like a war cry being played out on a tribal drum. And today, as the wine and the bread scream at me to take a closer look, I am undone.

Somehow, I cannot separate the call of communion from the unmet cries of these children. Surely, Christ’s call to communion was not to just remember how we ourselves are saved, and then simply enjoy the glow in the huddle. Jesus Himself said, If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it (Luke 9:23–24 NLT).

The Call to Communion, as I see it, is a call to a cross-bearing life. It is a call to partake in the sufferings of Christ, as much as it is to partake in His gift of atonement. It is a call to surrender and to spend ourselves on others. It is a call to sacrificial love—the kind that really costs us everything. It is a call to the orphan and the widow. It is the letting go of the rights we cling to so tightly so that our hands are free to make mosaics from the brokenness around us.

Communion (that is, the union with God through the sacrifice of Christ) then becomes our anchor as we offer refuge to those lost at sea; it becomes the root from which grows fearless love that opens our hands, our hearts, and our doors. It is not just remembering how and why Christ died, but how He lived—and then daily choosing to give up our lives to do the same.

May it never be that we partake of the elements of Communion and then go our way and do nothing to ease the suffering of others or to feed the hungry or to clothe the naked or to set the lonely in families. May it never be that we receive the life-gift of Christ and then preserve it rather than spend it on “the least of these.”

Question to consider: And so, dear friends, as the churning continues and the call is clearer, I ask you, as I ask myself: “How will you respond to the Call of Communion?”


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