Communion and kissing

Where were you when you had your first kiss? Who was it with?!  

There’s holy kissing in the Bible, which is a form of greeting (Rom 16:16) or goodbye (Gen 27:26), that can be between two people of the same sex (Matt 26:48). Family life is filled with such kisses. But there’s another kind of kissing, which is referred to in Song of Solomon 1:2 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth”. This is a much more intimate kind of kiss. 

What is kissing doing? It’s not really about imparting information, is it? Kissing is a form of communication, but the content of the communication isn’t very complicated. You don’t need to write it down in a notebook. A communist textbook once described a kiss as “the approach of two pairs of lips with reciprocal transmission of microbes and carbon-dioxide”. It’s been said, with a definition like that, it’s no wonder communism fell! 

A kiss both expresses love and excites love; it’s addictive. It communicates affection, delight, and desire, and it stirs up the other person. A kiss is a form of communion. 

That’s why kissing is a helpful analogy for the Lord’s Table. Communion is like getting a kiss from Jesus. Now, that image could trip us up, for obvious reasons. This isn’t a romantic encounter between the believer and Jesus, nor is it producing the same physical effects. But, the Lord’s Supper is doing something different to preaching. In preaching, Jesus says“I love you”. In the Lord’s Supper, he seals his love with a kiss. In preaching, Jesus uses words to express his love. At communion, Jesus uses actions to express his love. 

The most intimate moment of worship for many Christians is during the singing, or during the preaching. It’s easy to dismiss the Lord’s Table as an unimportant event in the life of the church. But when we see it rightly, this is an amazing act. At his table, Jesus personalises his love to us. It’s not imaginary. You’re not left wondering, “did he mean me?”. When I put my lips to the cup, it is a “participation in the blood of Christ”. When I eat the bread, I’m participating in his body (1 Cor 10:16). That language isn’t used of any other actions. That’s why I think it’s helpful to compare communion and kissing. 

“Let him kiss me”, the Bride in the Song of Solomon says (Song 1:2)! She doesn’t want a weekly allowance from the Bridegroom. She doesn’t want freedom. She doesn’t want praise or affirmation. She wants a kiss. If you’re anything like me, Christ’s love isn’t something I struggle with intellectually, but it is something I can struggle with experientially. And communion is as important to my relationship to Christ as kissing is to marriage. It’s where Jesus mysteriously convinces me of his love.