What is the Rite of Bread and Wine?
Dear visitor, in this article, we will examine the concepts of Bread and Wine from a Christian perspective. Our primary source is the Bible, the word of God.
Have you ever been to the Kariye Museum? We recommend you to visit this magnificent building in Edirnekapı, Istanbul. The Chora (Chora) Church, whose history goes back to the 4th century, was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. It was rebuilt in the 14th century and decorated with extraordinary mosaics. The mosaics depict the life of Jesus Christ and key theological beliefs.
When you first enter the church, you will see the Pantocrator Jesus above the door before entering the next section, the most sacred area, the Naos (Sacred Area). Pantokrator means lord, ruler of the universe. In fact, when you first enter the church, you are answering 2 basic questions by looking at this mosaic:
1- Who is God? – Creator, holy, eternal, perfect, powerful…
2- Who are you? – The created, sinful, limited, imperfect, weak…
So how can these two sides come together? You step inside and you meet the Holy One, the Master of the universe. Isn’t it scary to continue? How can the sinner and the holy meet? Doesn’t it take courage to take one more step? Who can stand against the holiness of God?
Inscription above the mosaic, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and just below it is written “ἡ Χώρα τῶν ζώντων” (hē Chōra tōn zōntōn) the land of Life.
Path Real Life: Jesus Christ
So how can Jesus Christ be the Living Space? What makes it a living space? How can we meet in such profound contrast? The answer to the question is actually hidden in the scenes in the upper left and right corners of the mosaic.
The scene in the left corner depicts the first miracle of Jesus Christ. According to the text written in chapter 2 of the Gospel of John, Jesus Christ is depicted turning water into wine.
In the scene in the right corner, there is the miracle of Jesus Christ feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread.
These miracles were consciously performed. We can get in on one condition. On one condition, we can come to God, the Creator, the Holy, the Infinite, the Perfect, the Mighty. This condition is hidden in the bread and wine theme in these mosaics.
The Only Path to the Holy One – Bread and Wine / Body and Blood
Jesus Christ came to earth in a human body and offered his soul on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and the breaking down of the walls between us and the Holy One. Only through this sacrifice are we able to come into God’s presence pure, with complete grace. The bread and wine represent the body and blood that Jesus Christ sacrificed for the salvation of each of us.
At the last supper before the crucifixion begins, Jesus Christ says to his disciples:
Then he took bread in his hand, gave thanks, broke the bread and gave it to them. “This is my body that was sacrificed for you. Do this to commemorate me,” he said. Likewise, after the meal, he took the cup and said: “This cup is the new covenant with my blood that has been shed for you. (Luke 22: 19 – 20)
Thus, the only way we can approach God with courage is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Through his body and blood, we can reach God cleanly.
We can enter the most sacred space (Naos), the Living space, through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the lord of the universe, who greets us at the entrance of the Chora (Kariye) Church.
The Importance of Bread and Wine Rites in Churches
The most important source of why and how the Bread and Wine ritual should be used in church services is written in 1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 26 in the New Testament.
I have learned from the Lord what I have spoken to you. The night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and said: “This is my body, which was sacrificed for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” I have learned from the Lord what I have spoken to you. The night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and said: “This is my body, which was sacrificed for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Likewise, after the meal, he took the cup and said: “This cup is the new covenant with my blood. Do this to remember me every time you drink.” Every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until the coming of the Lord.
Also, in Didake (AD60 – AD90), one of the oldest known written documents in the history of Christianity, there are important instructions on how to perform the rite of bread and wine.
In the light of this information, let’s look at why the Bread and Wine rite, which is an important part of worship in churches, is performed.
We need to know that all Christian churches, no matter how different their traditions and denominations, believe in the foundation of the gospel. Worship practices have some different technical details. However, there are two basic rituals that many churches accept in common. These are called Sacraments. The first of these is baptism, and the other is the Bread and Wine rite. The rite of bread and wine may be called differently in churches. In some churches it is called the Lord’s Supper, in some it is called the Eucharist, in some it is called the Communion. Now let’s look at these basic concepts:
Sacrament / Sacrament:
Sacrament is a Latin word and does not appear in the Bible. This word is replaced by the Greek word “mysterion” and generally refers to the saving works of God. Therefore, the word mysterion is used to describe the saving works of God through Jesus Christ and the sacrament baptism and bread/wine rite. Therefore, the concept we call sacrament symbolizes the divine grace of God.
Different traditions use different names for the rite of bread and wine.
Eukarista: A term generally used in Greek-speaking Orthodox churches. Eucharistia literally means giving thanks.
Communion: This concept focuses on the bread and wine ritual’s deep relationship with our savior, Jesus Christ, and the aspect of oneness with Him and His people.
The Lord’s Supper: This term is mostly used by Protestant churches. Here it focuses on the life of Jesus Christ (his betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion).
The Meaning of Bread and Wine in the Churches
Worship in churches has a specific theme, a narrative. We understand more deeply who God and we are. We become partners in God’s work on the cross through Jesus Christ, so that he may be reconciled with his people. The rite of bread and wine serves such a purpose.
The rite of bread and wine is not just about “me and my salvation”. It is a necessity and enables us to be God’s new creations. We taste the new creation with our tongue, lips, mouth and body. In this way we go to the outside world and serve for the coming of God’s sovereignty, his new creation.
Likewise, we are reminded once again that we must offer our bodies as living sacrifices, as was required of us in Romans 12:1, in response to Jesus Christ’s full grace and sacrifice on the cross.
With the sacrament of bread and wine, past and future meet us in the present, just as at baptism. The fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross 2000 years ago for our sins, the truth of God’s sovereignty, the new age that will begin with the second coming of Jesus Christ, merges with our reality and makes us a part of the new creation. For with our salvation begins the process necessary for us to become like Jesus Christ. This is what Bread and Wine represents.