St. Peter’s Faith Leaders Talk about Communion

Over the season of Easter, St. Peter’s experimented with having communion during all Sunday morning services. The staff, with the hopes of talking about the many ways that communion can touch our lives, put together thoughts about the sacrament for the bulletin each Sunday. Here they are in their entirety.

Pastor Geib

In the well-known novel The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas, we see two men standing on top of the main gate into Jerusalem. It is Palm Sunday and the area near the great temple is packed with Passover pilgrims. Then we see the Palm Sunday procession moving down the side of the Mount of Olives making its way through that gate into the temple. Jesus, dressed in a white robe, is riding a donkey, surrounded by his friends. People are singing “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” One of the two men at the gate looks at the other man, Demetrius, and asks, “Who is that man on the donkey – is he a king?” Demetrius responds “Yes, but much more than a king.” This season we praise our King but even more we have communed with him at the table of bread and wine. A High King – Yes! But also a loving friend offering friendship, love, and salutation.

Pastor Craig Ross

Like Thomas we are always at risk of doubting. Faith in God that no longer has the earthly Jesus walking around with us, can feel like…well…a bit disembodied. That is why our belief in the “real presence” of Jesus in our communion meal is so critical to our faith life. For in the Lord’s Supper we make the bold claim that JEsus is truly present among us. We don’t quite go as far as Roman Catholicism does and point to a moment when earthly elements of bread and wine mystically become body and blood…called transubstatiation…and thus we do not ring bells announcing that moment of transformation. But as Martin Luther liked to frame it, Jesus is truly present “in, with and under” everything that occurs in our Eucharistic meal – in the people present, in the prayers we offer, in the songs we sing, in the bread and wine, and in liturgy we offer to God. Jesus is really here. You and I cannot ruin that nor corrupt it. It is dependent neither on our good heart or good works. Good does the heavy lifting by offering grace freely through this meal. Amen to that!

from 4/28 Sermon: Communion is a potent sign of forgiveness offered to us through the bread and wine of the Last Supper. Forgiveness is the business of the church.

Pastor Sarah Teichmann – “Jesus Shows UP”

Fun fact: Christians ritually have gathered for Sunday worship long before they gathered to celebrate Easter. It wasn’t until the Council of Nicea (325) that the formal day of Easter Sunday was set as being within 7 days of Passover. Long before that, Christians were gathering on Sunday to worship God and share in the Lord’s Supper.

Why? Because Christians knew that it was on a Sunday that Jesus showed up. He was resurrected on a Sunday, he appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus on a Sunday, and he came to the fear-struck disciples on a Sunday. And ever since then we Christians have gathered together on Sundays with the belief that Jesus shows up. And Jesus most certainly does! Jesus shows up as the real presence of body and blood. Sometimes it may be hard for us to understand or believe. Sometimes we may not know “what Jesus would do” in a certain situation. But we do know that when we gather together Jesus shows up, fills us, forgives us, loves us, and sends us out once again to be his hands and feet in a world who longs to know grace, mercy, and love.

from 5/5 Sermon: Communion is basic training for the crisis moments in our lives.

Sister Dottie Almoney – Holy Communion as an Act of Justice and Solidarity

God’s table is a place where people of all genders, sexual identities, social classes, races and ethnicity are called to be together for meal.   Everyone is equally welcome to come to and receive this means of grace. Receiving this meal helps us to stand in solidarity together regardless of our political views or economic status.  We stand in solidarity with those who have died and those yet to be born. This meal is a glimpse into the Kingdom of God where there is no division among God’s Children. Eating the bread and drinking the wine nourishes our physical and spiritual bodies to go out and work on behalf of justice with those for whom we communed together.  

Galatians 3:28 reminds us “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  When you come to the table – look at those who are eating around you and remember, all are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Vicar Nancy Brody – “The Eucharist creates community as well as expresses it.”

“Different people are drawn by Word and Sacrament into a deep community. They discover a bond based not on physical or emotional attractiveness, social compatibility or common interests, but on the presence of the living Christ among them. Confessing their sins together, accepting together God’s mercy, listening to the Holy Scriptures together, and eating and drinking together from the same bread and cup molds the into a new community of love.”
–Henri J. M. Nouwen, Lifesigns: Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy in Christian Perspective, 1st ed (Garden City. N.Y: Doubleday, 1986), 104.

The Rev. Jeff Pretz – “This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia.”

In the Lord’s Last Supper, Jesus established the link between Passover and his death and resurrection for our freedom from sin to be people of God.

The freeing power of the Passover meal of the Lamb provided the process of freedom for the Hebrew people in Egypt into the wilderness and then into the promised land as people of God under Moses’ leadership. The blood of the Lamb and the eating of the Lamb brought the Hebrew people into solidarity with God’s plan for freedom from slavery and into the promised land.

The freeing power of Jesus as the Lamb of God in his dying for our sin and rising in victory over sin, death, and the devil. It all comes to us in the Lord’s Supper as given to us.

In this Easter season Christians are celebrating the victory of Christ over sin, death, and the devil. We celebrate it as people of God by sharing the meal Jesus gave us of his own body and blood as the Lamb of God. For our freedom and for our solidarity with God in Jesus Christ. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration with Jesus and his victory!

Adam Hughes

One of the things I hear the most when the subject of communion comes up is just how special and personal it is to people. Communion is one of those “thin” places in the worship service where we have a chance to interact directly with God. The variety of meanings is clear from conversations I’ve had with many of you and also from the writings on this study page.

And yet, communion is also intensely anti-personal. When we break bread together and share the cup, all our actions point away from our sinful selves and point instead to the God of unbounded grace who will do anything to welcome the stranger. In this light, communion is about a community of people showing the world that God’s love is for all.

As the great hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” has us sing:
There is welcome for the sinner, and a promised grace made good;
there is mercy with the Savior; there is healing in his blood.
There is grace enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations in that upper home of bliss.

Wrap-up and Thank You

It may be obvious from the above and from the many conversations we’ve had together, this topic stirs up a variety of theological discussions, practical problems to solve, and emotions. Wherever you may personally stand on the subject, it’s clear we should give thanks for the people of St. Peter’s who provide worship support: ushers, communion assistants, and altar guild just to name a few!

Please join the staff of St. Peter’s and the worship committee, in saying a hearty thank you to these and the many others who work behind the scenes to help make Sunday morning a chance to meet together, meet with God, and to be sent out into the world to share Christ’s love in word and deed.

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Dr. Adam Lefever Hughes

Director of Music

Adam served as Director of Music at St. Peter’s from 2015 to 2022.

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