The covenant meal is an especially important part of entering into a blood covenant with another person or group because it is a picture of the two parties becoming one. It is usually the final part of the "traditional" ceremony, but it can be done at any time to symbolize the "oneness" being created. If you refer back to the traditional steps in making a blood covenant, you will see that bread and wine are normally used as symbols representing the body and blood of each party being consumed by each other thereby becoming one in union. __________________________________________________
THE WEDDING COVENANT CELEBRATION
The most common example we see of this type of covenant meal ceremony taking place is at a wedding reception with food to eat and the wedding cake. At some point in time during the reception the cake is cut. The bride and groom each take a piece of the cake and feed it to each other. Then they take a glass of champagne or wine and give it to each other to drink. This is the symbolic act that is a picture of the vows they just made to each other where they declared they will become one in union until death do they part. This is covenant.
THE LAST SUPPER
Luke 22:19-20 -- "And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."
Jesus and His disciples had gathered together to celebrate the Passover meal as was the requirement under the Law. But at this gathering Jesus, knowing it was going to be His last meal with His closest friends, did something unexpected. He had a covenant meal with His disciples. Notice that apparently they knew what was going on because none of them asked any questions about what Jesus was doing when He said "this is my body" and "this is the new covenant in My blood."
Soon after this Jesus was taken away to give His life on the cross and spill His blood to make a way for all who would to enter into covenant with God through Him.
THE EARLY CHURCH
The Church that formed after the resurrection and for the following 200 years met together in homes and shared their lives together in a relationship called community. This was called "community" because they shared all things in common as an exchanged life and they were in "unity" with one purpose - exalt Jesus and expand His kingdom. During their meetings in the homes they usually had meals together and at the meals would also celebrate what Jesus had done for them with a covenant meal in remembrance of their covenant relationship with Jesus and with each other.
This was the typical way the Church met in the early days until the Church began to assimilate pagan practices in the third century. The Christianity that essentially conquered the Roman Empire was a home-centered movement filled with the life of the Holy Spirit.This Church was built on relationships, not on meetings and buildings.
The covenant meal is all about remembrance of the covenant relationship and the grace given to us by Jesus.
WHY DOES THE MODERN INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH DIMINISH THE REAL IMPORTANCE OF THE COVENANT MEAL IN ITS MEETINGS?
I don't think God ever intended His Church to become what it is today because we have lost so many of the relational aspects that the Church is to represent to a lost world. All the world sees is a group of people who go to various religious meetings in a building that the Christians themselves call "the church".
In today's church we many hundreds of denominations that all do things independently of one another. Their basic doctrines say they believe in much of the same, yet there is no unity among them. Why not? Why is the "Church" that Jesus died to give birth to so fractured and separated?
In the final High Priestly prayer of Jesus just before His sacrifice He asked the Father to make us "ONE IN UNITY - THAT THE WORLD MAY KNOW".
-- "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me."
John 17:21 -- "that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they may also be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me."
The covenant meal reminds us of our covenant with God and with other members of the family of God. It was instituted by Jesus in a meal setting, it was continued by the early Christians in a meal setting, and done in a context where we look at each other and relate to each other on an intimate basis. But because of our "buildings" and the style of meetings we have in those buildings we have lost our intimacy with our brothers and sisters in God's family and have relegated the covenant meal, or communion as many call it, to a token experience at the end of a Sunday meeting with a thimble of grape juice or wine and a small wafer or cracker of some sort.
Because we have done this the Church as we see it today has many feeble, weak, sickly people because we have not rightly understood the significance of the covenant meal and have not rightly understood that the Body of Christ is to be One Body in union with Jesus and with each other each other part in our communities. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.
We need to make the communion meal a significant part of our meetings of the Church.
Let's continue our journey into understanding the heart of the Father and His plan for restoring humanity to its original design before the fall. Our next area of study will be understanding what I call Mission Impossible - THE GREAT CO-MISSION.
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