Holy Communion (also called the Eucharist, Mass, or the Lord’s Supper) is the central act of Christian worship, where worshippers take part in a shared meal of bread and wine in response to Jesus’s invitation at the Last Supper to ‘do this in remembrance of me’. This meal points to the sacrifice of self-giving love by which Christ brought salvation to the world, and partaking in it gives Christians a way of remembering his death and resurrection for ever and showing forth God’s love in the world.
At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ Then he took wine, and said ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ (1 Corinthians 11.24-25 NRSV). At his crucifixion, Jesus’s body was broken just as the bread was broken, and his blood was shed, just as the wine was poured out.
While breaking bread and sharing wine together in Holy Communion, Christians recall Jesus’s sacrifice for humanity. We recognise our brokenness and our dependence on him to make us whole, and we offer our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice of thanksgiving for all that God has done in Jesus. And we are also called to be Christ’s body in the world, loving and serving others.
These are some of the reasons why it is so appropriate for the Coronation to take place in a service of Holy Communion. In taking part, we pray for the King that he might, following the example of Jesus and his disciples through the ages, live a life of self-giving service, ever devoted to those whom he is to serve.
Holy Communion is not just a recollection of what has been, it also looks to what is to come. As Christians share in Holy Communion, they witness a glimpse of God’s future, which is often alluded to in Scripture in the language of a banquet or great feast which God has prepared for all people.
But Christians are also, crucially, called to build the kingdom of God on earth: to break bread with the hungry, to lift up the fainthearted, and to bring God’s love and hope to the world in self-giving service. In sharing in Holy Communion the King promises to do his part to love and serve God and his people. Those who pray can join their own with his and promise to do the same.