Friday, November 14, 2014

Church Simply: A Real Lord's Supper


Confession time: I love to eat. Food is excellent. It is best served with good company.

Simple church gatherings almost always involve eating of some kind. Many of these meals are real Lord's Suppers. I'm referring to an actual meal that celebrates what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross. We see this in various places in the New Testament. For example, in Acts 20:7 we read, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight." Please notice that the body gathered for a specific purpose: "...when we were gathered together to break bread..."

Earlier in Acts, we see that the early believers dedicated themselves to several things, one of these being the "breaking of bread" (2:42).

The Corinthian church was struggling with the Lord's Supper. Some in the body were abusing it. The wording of chapter 11 only makes sense in the context of an actual meal. Paul does not tell them to stop eating a meal; rather, he instructs them in how to eat it properly.

Many institutional churches are starving themselves. The Lord's Supper celebration has been changed into a Lord's Snack funeral-like ceremony. This is a sad deviation for the worse.

One of the best aspects of gathering with other believers is eating together. There is something about eating together that brings about community life. It is easy to have conversations when sitting around the table. The body comes together as it all shares food together. Part of this meal, although I don't think it is required, is the bread and the cup. The eating and drinking of these helps remind us of what Jesus has done and also fosters the unity of the body.

I love the above icon because it shows a real meal in action. People are happy. There's even a dog at the table. The meal is portrayed as an active, joyful occasion. This is what the Lord's Supper should be.

When the church gathers, one thing we should all be thinking is, "Let's eat!" And by "eat," we are referring to a real supper.

5 comments:

Kevin Willard said...

A brother shared this with me because I mentioned to him I was interested in how to incorporate communion with a gathering meal. I get the breaking bread part, but how could the "cup" be incorporated, or should it? :)

Steve Scott said...

Eric,

The "thimble-full of grape juice and stale wafer funeral atmosphere maybe once every few months" experience that many of us have had I think leads to an attitude of NOT having meals with people at times other than Sunday mornings. We get used to not breaking bread as an example, and we follow that example in the rest of our lives.

In the last few churches we have attended, it has been nearly impossible to achieve something as simple as having a meal with somebody else. Just heartbreaking.

Eric said...

Kevin,

Thanks for commenting. I believe the best way to incorporate it is to be natural about it. You could have one cup of wine that all drink from, or you could have one pitcher that all pour out of. Everyone could then drink it as part of the meal.

I suggest that you talk with others about it and see what they think. I'd avoid making it too ceremonial; rather, just have a family-type get together and see how the Spirit leads.

Eric said...

Steve,

I'm sorry for you brother. It is just so incredibly difficult for so many to break from their traditions. Most of today's "communion services" ironically stunt actual community. What a mess it is.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

In my brash young days as a pastor I decided the only way to go was to rearrange the internal furniture of the building- notice I didn't say"church" :)- one table running full length and seating (pews) arranged either side. The whole meeting was at the table.

As the congregation assembled, I overheard an elderly lady, from a founding family, a member of seventy years, say in a loud stage whisper,"Look what he's done to the church!"

There is a funny side to the story, but, it still makes me sad at the same perceptions of "church" and the Lord's Supper continue to prevail.