Should Christian communion be a ritual?

During a recent communion at church I suddenly made these observations: why do we take communion only at certain times? Would it be more (or at least equally) appropriate to “take communion” at every meal? And on a related note, why do people religiously pray over their meals, but not snacks or drinks? This post is my attempt at thinking through my own questions. I haven’t done a thorough analysis of the translated or original texts, though. These are just my thoughts.

Before I start, a note on terms. Christian communion is the practice of taking bread and wine in remembrance of Christ and his sacrifice. I’m defining ritual as a practice with certain uncommon behaviors that are practiced certain special times. Even though it’s certainly not out of the question, we don’t often think of religious rituals as something done daily (despite the therm “daily ritual,” which has to do with habits). I’m making the usual connotation of “special times only” part of my definition for this argument.

A question you often hear among Christians is, do we do communion weekly at church, or only monthly? Some may point out that the early Christians might have done communion every day (or so I’ve heard). My concern is not with which days should communion take place, but at which events. Specifically, I’m wondering if the act of eating isn’t sufficient for communion. The food and drink are good representations for Christ’s body and blood, and people eat and drink every day, providing ample opportunity for reflection. All I’m saying is, maybe when Jesus said “take and eat, this is my body” he meant for us to reflect on that every time we ate. Same for the drink.

From what I understand, and in broad terms, communion is a commandment to remember Christ’s sacrifice and purpose of his suffering and to examine our lives (1 Cor 11:27-32). It took place on a Jewish feast day (Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread). The value of the act comes not from what they were eating and drinking, but what they were observing. Some Christians bring this point up when discussing transubstantiation with Catholics, so I expect at least these people to follow through with that belief. I don’t think the fact that the Lord’s Supper was on a holiday is sufficient to counteract my argument. Otherwise, we would only do it once per year, and on the correct day. It seems to me that remembrance of the Lord’s crucifixion should happen far more than once per year, and in any case I can’t think of any other holidays that Christ commanded or that the Bible promotes. Don’t you even dare think “Christmas” unless you have some scripture commanding celebration of Jesus’s birthday. If your idea of celebration involves nothing more than gift-buying (I call it Consumeristmas) you better have a comprehensive explanation for it.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Found a flaw in my thinking or some strong evidence for one side or another? Please share, I’d love to hear it.

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One thought on “Should Christian communion be a ritual?

  1. Moema

    To better understand this issue let’s go back to the Bible. Jesus said in one occasion that He was the Bread of life ( Jn 6:35). My guess is because on that time bread was something vital in their diet, because bread is a food of substance, that gives us strength.
    Could be this the reason Jesus chose the bread to represent his body.
    The wine (which does not mean alcoholic wine) or the fruit of the vine represents his blood as you well know. And blood is the life of living creatures. I don’t imagine having the communion with water or orange juice much less with sodas! Or get a slice of pizza and call that Jesus flesh.
    He pour his blood as sacrifice. I imagine the thing that most resembles blood is grape juice. The Bible is full of symbolism. I think God uses this method to help humans understand his truth. But sometimes is pure intriguing.
    Acts 2:42 talk about the breaking of bread which is considered also the communion. Did they do everyday? I don’t know.

    My humble opinion is that we should remember his sacrifice more frequently. This is the core of the Bible and the very reason he came to us.
    Sure He wants us to remember everyday and be thankful for what he did. I guess the once a month thing became tradition and today nobody question why.

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