This is Communion Sunday, when the Church celebrates what is known as “the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.” You remember that on the night before Christ was crucified He gathered His twelve disciples together that He might have a quiet meal and talk with them. And it is that Last Supper, as it is known, which we call to mind when we observe Communion Sunday.
The first Christians did not have communion on Sunday. They used to have a common meal together on weekdays, and at a neighbour’s house. At these meals they would recall the sayings of Jesus and His loving deeds.
But Christ not only had the Last Supper with His disciples, and taught them to remember Him in the breaking of the bread: He also gave them the lesson about the bread and the wine by which to remember Him.
You know how bread is made. Grains of wheat are put in the ground by the farmer, and these grains give up their lives in order that other grains may grow on the stalk at harvest-time. Then these grains are gathered in, and finally ground into flour. Christ also gave up His life just as those first grains of wheat in the ground. And He meant to tell us by the bread at communion that if we are to help other people we must be willing to give up our own selfish desires for their sake.
By the wine at communion Christ meant to teach us that just as the branch of a grapevine must be attached to the stalk before there can be grapes, so you and I must keep close to Christ in order to be able to live the life of unselfishness which shows that we are His followers. He says: “I am the vine, ye are the branches. Without me ye can do nothing.”
After Christ’s death, whenever the disciples took their meal together, they would think of Christ, and they would forgive one another and become more gentle and loving. Whenever we see the communion-table prepared, we also must think of Christ, forgive those who have wronged us, and try still harder to be unselfish and kind.
In England on Christmas eve boys and girls and men and women go about the streets singing Christmas carols, or songs, at the doors of people’s houses, and the people for whom they sing give them tokens of their good-will. The first verse of one of the oldest and best Christmas carols is as follows:
“God rest you merry, gentlemen;
Let nothing you dismay,
For Christ was born of Mary
Upon a Christmas Day.”
That is a very beautiful carol, but there is one still more beautiful. It is the one the angels sang the night that Christ was born:
“Glory to God in the highest,
Peace on earth to men of good-will.”
This means that people who have good-will in their hearts toward other people will have peace on earth. And how very true that is! People generally act toward us the same way in which we act toward them. If we are cross, others are cross; but if we are warmhearted and loving, then people are warmhearted toward us. It is just like seeing your face in a looking-glass. If you frown, the face in the mirror will frown. If your face is smiling, the one in the mirror will be smiling. That is another way of saying that you get what you give.