Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Eat, Drink, Think II

In regard to the frequency of observance of The Lord's Supper, there is no direct command in the New Testament. Acts 20:7 states that when they met on the first day of the week to break bread, Paul preached. My fellowship has taken that as an example to be followed. I. Cor. 11:25 says that as often as you drink, do it in memory of Christ. Acts 2:46 states that the new Christians were day by day breaking bread. Henry Nouwen has written that he partakes every day to keep his mind attuned to Christ. Constantine once ruled that it should be observed on important holidays like Christmas and Easter. Other churches have chosen to partake once a month, once a quarter, etc. I am thankful for our weekly observance which sets the pace for the rest of the week. And no, it never becomes rote or boring for me. Maybe for others, but more on that later.

Some aberrations have taken place through the years with us and other churches:

Some felt that since one cup was used in the initiation, we should use only one cup today. Knowledge about germs and disease changed that. However, there are still some who are doing it that, and we call them "one-cuppers".

Some have believed that not partaking can lead to loss of salvation and go to great lengths to have the elements with them on Sunday wherever they are. I had a friend in high school who carried a kit with a small vial of juice and a cracker in his pickup. Churches often make it a practice to take the Supper to those are in the hospital and rest homes or who are shut-ins, so they will not miss it. Before Sunday night church gradually disappeared in favor of small group meetings, the Supper was always offered to those who had been "providentally hindered" (whatever that meant?) from attending Sunday morning church.

Some feel it necessary for the priest or someone else to bless the elements before they are passed. because the KJV says, Jesus took the bread and blessed it, etc. A better translation reads, Jesus took the bread and after a blessing, He broke it. NASB Seems that he was blessing God for His gifts instead of blessing the bread.

How about transubstantion in which the bread and wine supernaturally become the real body and blood of Christ? Christ's Jewish friends around that table did not think any such thing. The Jews abhorred the eating of human flesh and drinking of blood. And those who sat with him were very familiar with the metaphors, similies and parables of Jesus and they knew that he was speaking figuratively.

The KJV of Matt. 26:27 says to "Drink ye all of it." And because of this many have taken great pains to drain every drop of the juice from the container and even dry it out before passing it on. A better translation would be "Drink ye--all-- of it. In other words, everyone should drink it.

Some churches refuse communion to those not identified with their fellowship thus practicing "closed communion". At Otter Creek, we welcome anyone to partake--the Lord's Supper is not an act of identification with a church, but rather an act of identification with Christ.

II Cor. 11:28 says we should examine ourselves lest we eat and drink unworthily.
Some have taken that to mean that since they consider themselves too sinful, they should not partake. A better reading of the passage shows the word "Unworthily" is an adverb which describes how we partake--unthinkingly, ritualisticly, etc.

Another wrong-headed celebration is one which is more like a funeral rite rather than a celebration. When the early Christians partook of it, Christ has arisen and many of them had seen him. They had nothing to mourn, but rather celebrated his sacrifice and their salvation.

One more tomorrow.

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