2016. What a year. Well, maybe for you nothing special happened. But for those of us who had joined our hearts and minds to the Chicago Cubs, we shared something truly special. On a late night in early November, the Cubs (in extra innings) ended game 7 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians as champions. On the final play, the third baseman, Kris Bryant, collapsed while throwing the final out to Anthony Rizzo at first. Kris Bryant’s collapse was not only his own exhaustion, excitement, and joy, but as he fell, he embodied all the release of frustration and feelings of final victory that the curse of the goat had cast on the historic franchise after their last World Series win in 1908. And the ensuing embrace of the team was the embrace of the fans across the world who were all connected in the joy of victory in this incredible story.
For over one hundred years, Cubs fans (just as fans of any sport might) had joined themselves to the team, feeling the hope and happiness of success and the all too constant bitterness and sadness of failure. We had taken upon ourselves the great story of the Chicago Cubs franchise. That story of a century of failure and close calls fueled the elation that we all felt when Rizzo caught that final out. We had finally won. And that’s how avid sports fans refer to their team—as “we.” We are as much our favorite teams as the players are. We feel every emotion they feel. Their story had become our story, and such stories are powerful.
When we meet together to take communion, we are identifying with the story of the Bible. We are declaring that the Savior who has given his body to be broken and had his blood spilt for us is “my” Savior. We declare with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 CSB). We declare ourselves a person belonging to the Messiah who was prophesied to come. We take the cup of the “blood of the covenant” (Mark 14:24) and identify as one who is under the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31 in which God said he would “forgive their iniquity, and . . . remember their sin no more” (v. 34).
As we take communion, we declare that great story of the gospel—the true story of the whole world—over our lives and to those who are watching, and we take our place within its pages. As we remind ourselves of this story, we ground ourselves in the declaration of forgiveness of our sins because Jesus was “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16). Jesus is your Savior if you take the Lord’s Supper in faith.
We are not alone in this story. As you sit at Mercy Hill, people are partaking of communion around you and connecting themselves to the story of the gospel along with you. Paul says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17). We find ourselves living in the same story as our brothers and sisters in Christ around us. And not just them, but those who partake worldwide, even those persecuted Christians on the other side of the planet. Also, we are connected to those who have taken the bread and the cup in the past—even the Twelve who were reclining at table with Jesus as he initiated this supper. And thinking even further back, we are one with those Israelites who celebrated the first Passover before their exodus from Egypt—they were trusting in the blood that symbolized to the angel of death to “pass over” their house. This Passover pointed forward to Jesus’ blood who would divert the angel of death from his church for eternity.
And with these brothers and sisters of faith, we share the same hope for the future. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). When we partake of communion, we all aim the eyes of our hearts to the wedding feast of the Lamb in the kingdom of God when we will drink the fruit of the vine with Jesus and with all of his people, past and present—the sister sitting next to you, the Christian sitting in prison at this moment, the apostles Peter and Paul, Abraham and Moses. Our story has a glorious ending, and it has already been written. But we take communion in the present to remind ourselves of this story and to re-center ourselves on it.
Jesus is our Savior and the Bible is the story in which we have found our place. As you take communion next week (and even with watching baptism this week!), remember that these ordinances have been given to us by Christ himself as he invites us to identify with him. His victory is our victory; his joy is our joy.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator)