Why does “communion sweet” in the sacrament require both bread and water?**
Perhaps the bread and water represent the complete spiritual sustenance that Christ offers us, he being both food and drink to our souls. That sounds right to me. If someone has developed this idea at greater length I’d love to see it.
In the most basic symbolism of the sacrament, the bread is Jesus’ flesh, the water is his blood, and by eating his flesh and drinking his blood we are merging ourselves with him. Since the blood represents mortality and the bread immortality, we are taking on us both Christ’s mortal and immortal aspects. We are taking part in both Christ’s divine and immortal being and in his human and mortal being.
So what does it mean that we participate in Christ’s mortality and immortality? I asked that question before but didn’t have an answer. Now I might.
We get baptized to have a remission of our sins. To drown, in other words, the burden of our sinfulness in Christ’s infinite sinlessness. But our burdens being relieved, we covenant to take other people’s burdens. Baptism is both about letting Christ redeem us and about covenanting to help redeem others.
The sacrament should be the same. Representing as it does baptism and indeed all the other ordinances, the sacrament must not only relieve us of our sins and imperfections, but make it possible for us to suffer for other’s sake like Christ does. The bread heals us and exalts us by making us one with the spotless Man who puts all things under his feet. The water guides us to heal others by making us one with the suffering Man who descends beneath all things.
A Mormon can with perfect consistency shout alleluia all the day long and also “view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world.”
*A former version of this post can be found in the archives.