Matt. 26:26-28 ¶ Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
The Family Meal was a huge part of family life growing up. Not everything about it was a pleasant memory. Who can forget the nightly threats, “If you don’t finish your peas you will be eating them for breakfast”. There were the positive aspects of the daily event, you were face to face with Mom and Dad, a family identity was being established. This family meal was the foundation of the family itself. The Jews obviously practiced this family meal, we catch a glimpse of it in their Passover Celebration described here by Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary.
“The lamb is roasted and then shared by the family in a meal which includes unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The family meal provides the context for the head of the family to explain the nature of the observance to the children similar feature of Unleavened Bread in Exod. 13:6–10. “Remembering” is combined with “retelling” in such a way that the events of the past are actualized for every Israelite in the context of the observance. Passover celebrates not only what God has done in the past, but also what God is doing in the present. Ritualized activity provides the occasion for celebration, reflection, and the formation of community identity.”
This is the very meal Jesus was sharing with His family of disciples the night before He was crucified. This family meal is called communion and has become the center of our church family life. Jesus explained the significance at that first Christian Family dinner. He said the bread was His body. Our family is the body of Christ, we have become one as we have become part of His family, bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. As He took the cup that night He shared about why He had to die. The drink was His blood that was poured out for the remission of our sins.
So communion is not just a symbolic meal, it is at the very heart of our Christian Community. We are one family because we share the intimacy of this family meal.