Ironic or not, disappointing and yet divinely appointed, a lot of fellowship has been broken over communion. And really, don’t be surprised. Christ gave two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which identify His Body, the Church. So men ought to care, and while we ought to be more patient than some in church history have been, today we could probably use more of the type of conviction they had. The bread and the wine are not laissez faire fare, take-it-or-leave-it stuff.
One part that Christians have argued about is the presence of Christ. Transubstantiation claims that when the priest prays, the substance of the bread physically turns into Jesus’ flesh and the wine turns into Jesus’ blood, even if the elements still appear as bread and wine. Consubstantiation claims that both substances are together, physical bread and physical body. Others claim a spiritual presence.
Beyond philosophical and metaphysical speculation, we should give most attention to what Paul says. As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord’s death “until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). That means that the Lord is not physically here.
In His body He ascended to the Father. He sent His Spirit, and so He can say that He is with us until the end of the age, but that is a supernatural presence, not a physical one. In communion we remember our spiritual union with Him and with one another. And as good as it is, our very participation here proclaims that there is more than the present. He is coming again in His resurrected body and will give us the same.