I thought of the word "communion" this past Sunday as we sang in Sacrament meeting "'Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love." The line goes, "Oh, blessed hour! Communion sweet!"
It turns out that communion, though rarely used in scripture, is a wonderfully expressive word. Communion comes from the root word meaning to mix dough, shape clay, put together, touch, knead, fasten, form or build. The original word meant "forming loaves of bread from dough." The word "paradise" also comes from this root and meant an "enclosed garden with a clay wall."
The Oxford English Dictionary defines communion as "sharing or holding in common with others; combination; union." Also, "an organic union of persons united by common religious faith and rites." The Bible Dictionary in the LDS scriptures defines communion as "a word used generally in Protestant and Catholic Christianity to memorialize the sacrament of the Last Supper. It is so called because in partaking of the sacramental emblems (the bread and water, or wine), one seeks fellowship with the Master, for it is done in remembrance of him."
Paul teaches that "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
It can't be coincidence that the words "bread" and "communion" have so much in common. By partaking of the sacrament we, being many, are kneaded and mixed as "one bread, and one body."
The word "communion" is often used in general conference addresses. President Thomas S. Monson, quoting President Ezra Taft Benson, teaches, "Our homes need also the blessings which come from daily communion with God" (November 1991 Ensign).
In deepening our understanding of fasting, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin admonishes, "If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father" (May 2001 Ensign).Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches that there are special times when we can "gain some access to both the grace and majesty of (God's) Power." These "special moments include kneeling at a marriage altar in the house of the Lord, blessing a newborn baby, baptizing and confirming a new member of the Church, partaking of the emblems of the Lord's Supper, and so forth. These are moments when we quite literally unite our will with God's will, our spirit with His spirit, where communion through the veil becomes very real" (November 1998 Ensign).
Joseph A. Cannon is editor of the Deseret News.