Communion Matters 3: What Does Communion Mean?
The place is begin is with what the word means, and the answer is ‘lots of things,’ and in lots of different spheres. Communion, in Greek koinonia, means ‘the shared.’ But this can be referred to the sacrament, or to having goods held in common, or to a quality of relationship between friends, or to the inner life of the divine Trinity, or to a state of mutual recognition of different churches (especially our fellow Anglicans), and, by extension, other groups, and doubtless others as well. Communion’s power is its span and its flexibility.
Whether we are looking at the religious or economic or inter-personal, or divine, or diplomatic, (or others), what is common to their sense of commonality? Being in communion means we are together, really and deeply, without being identical. In philosophical jargon, to be is to be with. For the opposite of blending all into one, is to stand apart and be separate. To be I is not to be you. And this too is what ‘communion’ is not saying. By nature a family is communal, while a business organization is not, though it may strive toward such a state on occasion. Needless, to say we resist communion as much as we want it, we who are made to be related to God even as we are prohibited from identifying ourselves with Him.
Christian being is indeed communion, undergirded by the divine communion, constituted in the communion of the Church, displayed in the act of communion, instructive for humanity made for a being as communion, etc. There is indeed a kind of ladder, an interlocking chain, which helps us to understand, as we look from one to another, what life in the Spirit as life in communion is. In other words, ‘who God is’ leads to ‘who we are’ leads to ‘what we do together Sunday’ leads to ‘how we conduct ourselves in the world.’