21st April 2020

To Share in Christ

“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?”
1 Corinthians 10:16 (NIV)

Even though I terribly miss meeting with others to worship together during this present lockdown due to coronavirus, I must admit there were times when I was not ready for church. I felt quite worn out from my working week. I attended the worship service aware that I was tired, my mind distracted and my faith feeling inadequate.

We live in a culture where we are told to make it as individuals; the inner voice tells me to pull myself together and perform! However, individualism is not the core mantra of the church. Instead, we are counselled to look to Christ. We are not encouraged to look at Jesus just to simply imitate him, as if I could use all of my strength to force myself to become more like him. If that were the case, I would certainly fail on my days of weakness. No, God calls us to participate with Jesus, to welcome the new life that he now lives within us. We are directed to look to his strength; to rest in him and his work.

In the NIV Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:16, goes on to say, “And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” The Greek word for ‘participation’ is koinonia, which is translated by other bibles as ‘sharing’ (NRSV) or ‘communion’ (KJV). Indeed, ‘communion’ is often used to describe the event Paul is talking about: the church coming together to eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of Jesus.

Apologies for the poor grammar: I don’t make communion happen. The bread and the wine highlights my sharing in something that Christ has already done. Indeed, as this participation is through the Holy Spirit, the bread and the wine also highlight what Christ is bringing into our lives today. Communion is not about me; it’s about him. What a relief! I may feel tired, unwell or stressed, but communion is all about sitting at Jesus’ feet and receiving from him. Let’s never turn away from the bread and the wine in fear that we feel inadequate. Instead, such times are the reminders that, in reality, we can never make ourselves adequate. I should never think that I am able to approach God because of my wisdom or strength. It is all about sharing in what Christ gives, participating with his work within us. Individually, we may feel weak. However, in communion we are reminded that Jesus is strong and he will always share his life and work with – and in – us.

Father, this world tells me that I must make it on my own, that I must be strong enough to be self-sufficient in all areas of life. But you know us better than ourselves and you know that we can never approach you in our strength. You have given us life through Jesus Christ and communion reminds us visibly that we are invited into that life. Help us to participate with Jesus when we feel weak, tired or doubtful. In Christ’s name we pray.

Study by Ian Woodley

*At this time it is not possible to share communion together at Church, but our denomination is providing a guide to taking the bread and wine at home:  https://gracecom.church/media/sharing_the_bread_and_wine/index.php

About the Author:
Ian Woodley is an Elder and Pastoral Council member of the Edinburgh Congregation of Grace Communion International, UK.

Local Congregation:
GCI, Edinburgh
Gilmerton New Church
Ravenscroft Street
EH17 8QJ

Meeting time:
Saturday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Peter Mill
Email: edinburgh@gracecom.church

Ian Woodley attends GCI Edinburgh

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