The Rhythm of Community
Have you ever heard the term “Christianese”?
It’s kind of a self-deprecating joke among believers, referring to the words and phrases that we use that mean so much to us, but to someone who doesn’t attend church regularly, seems totally foreign. Words like “sanctification” or “justified” and phrases like “washed by the blood” or “walking with Him” may describe vital things in our faith, but those not in the know could definitely confused.
This can be problematic for a lot of reasons (not the least of which is alienating new churchgoers, but I digress), and I think one of the more unfortunate reasons is that we often lose the reason why we use those words, what they really mean outside of our loaded Christian terms.
One of the more common examples of this is the word “communion”. You likely know full well what that is, we practice it every week. We pass the cup of juice and the piece of bread, representing the blood and body of Jesus, and we remember His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, and how that brought us salvation.
But what about the word itself? Why do we use the word “communion”? The reality is that its root word reveals something else that is vital to the Christian walk: community. That’s right, both “communion” and “community” are based in the root word “commune”, which is defined as “to share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with (someone), especially on a spiritual level”. When we join together and take the bread and juice, we’re not just meant to think and appreciate, we’re meant to intimately connect with God, to commune with Him. We’re meant to reflect on our relationship with Him and to share our deepest thoughts and feelings.”
But this realization doesn’t end there. This also shows how vital community itself is. If we remember back to the Last Supper, where communion was established, we don’t see Jesus alone, we see men sitting together and supporting one another in a time of upheaval. We see friends sharing their upcoming struggles, being worried and concerned about each other, being open and loving and convicting and so much more.
Communion began with community.
When Jesus said “do this in remembrance of me”, he didn’t say it as a command to thousands around Him, He said it to His closest friends and they sat together for a meal. In the same way, just as we’re meant to remember the sacrifice of Jesus, we would do well to remember the importance of community. A group of people that we share our hearts with, that we let down walls and fear and be honest with, a family, not by blood, but by love.
Commune, church. Commune with our Father in heaven. Commune with the church as a whole. And just as vital as anything else, find a small group of believers that you can commune with regularly.
Commune, as Christ did.