(from Greek: εὐχαριστία, lit. “thanksgiving”), also known as Holy Communion and the Lord’s Supper among other names, is a central Christian rite that commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper.
According to the New Testament it was instituted by Jesus Christ. When giving his disciples bread and wine during a Passover meal, he commanded them to “do this in memory of me” while referring to the bread as “my body” and the cup of wine as “the blood of my covenant, which is poured out for many”.
It is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others.
A membership contract renewal¶
One meaning of the Eucharist was to confirm communion with the church: receiving the consecrated host from the priest confirms that the church accepts you as a member. Taking it and swallowing it confirms that you accept to be a member. It is like a weekly renewal of a membership contract. And it is in public because all other participants of the mass can see it. This dimension of the Eucharist made sense in times where
knowing who’s a member and who’s not could decide about your life
many people were illiterate
legal protection was given only to some people, not to everybody
Some parts of the Roman Catholic church still hold on this meaning. Which is why they do not accept Lutherans to their Eucharist. This difference causes counter-productive reactions. My own family members avoid coming to a Holy Mass with me because they feel offended by not being allowed to communion.
Inspired by A church longing for changes