Amos 5:4 Seek me and live;
This may be a bold and naive thought, but I believe everyone, whether they know it or not, whether they believe in God or some form of Higher Power or not, whether they are ethical and moral or not…are seeking the Creator, something beyond our worldly identity, and pursuing the oneness that comes from the awareness of the Divine One.
This desire for God sometimes registers in our lives as misguided desires: lusts, addictions, irreverent behavior, egoistic and earthly conduct of all kinds. We are looking for more, for something, but we don’t know what it is because we are stuck in our lower, animalistic, bodily nature. At other times, our God-cravings lead us to perform virtuous deeds, to love and care, and to follow our higher spiritual natures.
Jesus expressed the idea of desiring to unite with us. John 14:3 - And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. Then in versed 23 Jesus says: "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Those who love Christ and keep his words, that is, those who embrace and follow their spiritual nature will know the union of the indwelling Presence. This is a primary gift that Christ brings to all Children of God: spiritual union, the oneness of God and His Children. This union does not change; it does not ebb and flow, strengthen or diminish.
So how does this oneness come into being? It is through communion that we find union. Communion is the joining together of minds, hearts, and spirits. We consciously come into communion with God to recognize and enjoy our union; we intentionally enter the Presence of God. Our mind and spirit commingle with that of God’s.
I am not speaking about any ritual here, although an external means can aid in actual communion. Rather, I am speaking about the very intimate and personal connection with God that we find in the quiet. We call that communion.
The benefits of communion with God are many, but one of the greatest is that we are restored and cleansed. John 3:2-3 says: Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
When we allow Christ to express through us, we are purified; it cannot be otherwise. To express Christ is to leave behind the dross and sludge of our ego and earthly nature, and bathe in the unmerited grace and unlimited power of God. When we choose to commune with God, in prayer, reflection, contemplation, or meditation, we choose to be as close as possible to our Creator.
Through his life, words, actions, and praying habits, Jesus showed us how to commune with God. Mk 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Lk 5:16, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Lk 6:12, “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Mt. 14:23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” Not always, but often, Jesus would pray alone.
However, Jesus prayed in all situations: when he began his ministry and was being baptized in the river by John. He prayed in submission to God, when making important decisions, and during his greatest need on the cross. He prayed for the benefit of others, to entreat others to pray, and as an educational tool. Through his words and actions he taught us to pray always. To move into the quietness of our minds and souls and pray, is to commune with God. This is one of the greatest teachings that Christ gave us.
And yet he also gave us a physical tool to aid in our communion with Spirit. We call it the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. Holy Communion is a ritual practiced by many Christian denominations, but not all. And since there are 45,000 Christian denominations, as you can imagine, over the centuries it has been a source of disunity and even contention. Each denominational segment has its own ideas as to how to perform the ritual and what it means. Some denominations believe it is symbolic and commemorative. Others believe the bread and wine are the actual body and blood of Christ. Denominations differ in who should partake in Holy Communion, who can impart the elements and who can receive them; whether Christ is actually present, and if so, how that presence manifests. Over the centuries, every perspective and every nuance has been debated and fought over.
In a moment, we are going to invite anyone willing, to participate in Communion. Before we do, allow me to give you my thoughts on the ritual. As in all of my attempts, I try to eliminate the dogma surrounding the various denominations.
Dogma is defined as the principles laid down by people in charge that declare something to be incontrovertibly true. When it comes to the Divine, it is only through humankind's hubris that we could state that something about God is incontrovertibly true. Religions and denominations are man-made ideas and are organized through man-made principles. We do our best to interpret the meaning of the words we have been given. I acknowledge that each of us has our own denominational history; we have our own way of thinking and believing, and have accepted a particular interpretation of the words of the Bible. So, as I frequently say, some of you are going to be disappointed in how we do things here. You will want to tell us this is wrong. But I assure you, it is not meant to offend any one particular denomination. My intention is to disappoint all denominations equally! And in celebrating our differences, I hope to bring us into a communing moment of releasing preconceptions and accepting each other, as well as Spirit within.
I envision this ritual as I perceive Christ offering it: as a commemoration of his presence in our lives. He knew he was leaving his physical form, so this was like a toast to life, an honoring of the work that had been done, and yet to what still had to be done. It was an acknowledgement of the affect his life and teachings would have on the future. He offered a physical ritual that embraces the inner spiritual communion necessary for his love to express through those still walking the earth at that time, and for all times.
Holy Communion, as with Baptism or Advent, is an outer symbolic ritual of an inner spiritual process. Our spiritual growth is not dependent upon anything physical or worldly. We do not need ritual to connect with God, and certainly ritual can be a distraction to our communion with Spirit. If we depend on ritual as the answer to spiritual growth, then we can miss the entire point of connecting to Christ. At the same time, with an open heart and the the release of judgment, this ritual can help us focus, remember, and commune with our Divine One. Holy Communion can support our realization that we are meant to be the channels through which the creative energy and the love of the Divine expresses into the world.
The essence of the communion that Jesus instituted is contained in His words, “When you pray, go within your closet and shut the door and pray to your Father Who is in secret.” Many people reach out in thought and feeling to a god they think is out in space. But the true God, the Source of Creativity, Intelligence, and Love is not only ‘out there’, but is within us and around us, moving through us.
Of course, God is omnipresent, but our place of contact, or communion with Spirit is within our consciousness. We do not need to be baptized or be of a certain denomination to participate in communion. We do not even have to be a Christian. It is as meaningful, or pedestrian, as we make it.
What happens or can happen in a true communion service? The soul can experience a feeling of security and peace even though outer circumstances may seem to indicate turmoil and instability. To state it in another way, our consciousness is raised; our awareness of God within is increased. This is what Christ was inviting his disciples to experience. This is what you are invited to experience now.
[Pass out the bread. Give thanks.]
The bread is symbolic of everything that gives us life: not only food, but the omnipresent substance of God. It is the Divine essence out of which all things are formed, including our bodies. Our imaginations, ideas, thoughts, dreams, feelings, desires, and beliefs give it form. This is why Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible.”
When Jesus says to eat or drink this, he is referring to our taking in, accepting, absorbing into our consciousness and understanding, and applying these qualities into our being. It does not mean, as my Anthropology professor insisted, that Christians are vampire cannibals. We must look beyond the physical to the spiritual nature, significance, meaning, and benefit of the ritual of communion. It is a spiritual process.
Then Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” To expand that thought, it means “Take this bread that I have broken as physical nourishment for your body, just as I offer my broken human body known as Jesus, to crucifixion. By so doing, the example of my life, my teachings and sacrifice offer nourishment for your spiritual development.”
[Pass out the juice. Give thanks.]
He then took the wine, which represents the Divine life-giving energy of God. It is the Light that sustains and warms and emanates from the heart of Christ. By prayerfully basking in that Energy and Light we are cleansed in the ‘blood’ of the Divine Power that cauterizes our ignorance, bad habits, negative tendencies, and our lowest inclinations.
He then said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” “Drink this," meaning, "Absorb into your awareness the spirit of willingness to sacrifice your attachments to the world and accept your oneness with God. Understand my immortality-bestowing teachings of forgiveness, divine love, unshakable fortitude, wisdom, judgment, willpower, compassion, love, tolerance, and self-surrender of the ego to Spirit’s embrace."
It is my prayer that through this outer ritual we will ignite the realization of our inner spiritual union and communion with Christ, and our oneness and connection with Spirit.