Although communion is celebrated by all Christians, the way different churches practice it varies. Some have requirements that you need to fulfill before participating, or different beliefs about God’s presence during the ceremony. There are even different ways that the bread and juice are served. Here’s what you need to know about communion at Eagle Brook.
How does Eagle Brook practice communion?
At Eagle Brook Church, communion is served approximately four times per year during weekend services and at some special services. Anyone who is a follower of Christ is invited to participate. During this time, trays of bread and juice are made available to attenders while the music teams play a song. We reflect on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, give thanks for what he has done, and look forward to his return. You don’t have to be a certain age, get baptized first, or be a member to participate in this time of reflection and celebration—communion is open to anyone who has made a decision to follow Jesus.
WHAT DOES COMMUNION SYMBOLIZE?
The bread stands for Christ’s physical body. The juice stands for His blood— symbolizing that He gave his life for our spiritual healing. When we eat the bread and juice, we experience a close spiritual oneness with Christ.
DO THE BREAD AND WINE LITERALLY TURN INTO JESUS’ BODY AND BLOOD?
At Eagle Brook, we believe that Christ is spiritually, but not physically present in the bread and juice. Supernaturally, Christ fills us, helping us to experience an intimate unity with him and with other Christians.
Some churches, such as the Lutheran church, teach that the bread and juice literally and physically become the body and blood of Christ during communion. The Catholic church goes one step further, teaching that this physical presence is important and required so that Christ can be sacrificed again for our salvation.
However, we believe that the idea that the bread and juice literally and physically become the body and blood of Christ is unbiblical. If Christ were sacrificed again in the act of communion, it’s true that he would need to be physically present, but that contradicts the biblical teaching that Christ’s death is completed once and for all (John 19:30; Hebrews 9:28; I Peter 3:18) . Nothing can be added to Christ’s death, so his physical presence is unnecessary.
WHAT HAPPENS TO US DURING COMMUNION—DOES IT REMOVE OUR SINS?
Some people believe that communion can create or give us forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) . In addition, some churches teach or imply that a spiritual blessing comes through this outward physical act, even when there’s no inward transformation. These churches often use the word sacrament to describe the idea that this ritual somehow bestows God’s saving grace.
Eagle Brook believes that communion does not in any way bring or create forgiveness of sin, eternal life or salvation. The Bible clearly teaches that rituals don’t save (see 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 51:16- 17; Galatians 2:14-16) . Salvation requires two things: First, God offers forgiveness by his grace, and second, we respond by confessing and turning from sin and trusting Jesus.
Someone who rebels against God and sits firmly on the throne of their own life doesn’t receive the gift of salvation or eternal life by going through rituals. These ceremonies aren’t magic tricks that provide us benefits while leaving us unchanged inside. Practices like communion do help us on our spiritual journey—they reinforce and build up our faith—but they can’t turn us into followers of Christ if we’ve never made the decision in our hearts to follow him.
IF IT DOESN’T LEAD TO GRACE, WHY DOES EAGLE BROOK PRACTICE COMMUNION?
Communion vividly portrays Christian unity. The Bible teaches that communion symbolizes participation in one body. The word communion emphasizes that it is an act that draws Christ followers together in community (1 Corinthians 10:16-17) . It’s also a remembrance or memorial in that it reminds us of Christ’s incredible gift of forgiveness through the cross (1 Corinthians 11:25).
At Eagle Brook, we celebrate communion because it is something that Christ commanded us to do (Matthew 26:26- 29). We describe communion as an ordinance, because that word refers to a command or a law. We may also call it a ritual, ceremony or celebration.
Communion is important because it gives us an opportunity to give thanks (‘Eucharist’ is from the Greek for “giving thanks”) for what Christ has done (1 Corinthians 11:24) . In addition, it’s a proclamation, a way of telling the world about the wonders of Christ’s gift at the cross (1 Corinthians 11:26) . Finally, it’s an anticipation of the completion of human history when Christ returns. We look forward to that day (1 Corinthians 11:26).