For me, one of the hardest parts of the lockdown was not being able to break bread in person with my church family. My heart longed to eat and drink in remembrance of my Saviour with the people I love. We had many questions: should we wait until we are back together before we partake? How long will it be before we can meet again? Is it biblical to take part in a cyber-supper? Many leading theologians and pastors weighed in on the debate with strong arguments for and against.
As a church, we decided against online communion and saw this period of isolation as a time to allow us to reflect on the joys of corporate worship that, dare I say, many of us took for granted. Absence made the heart grow fonder and once we were able to meet again we agreed to do communion every Sunday, in fear of another imminent lockdown. Thankfully we have remained open ever since and have been truly blessed by continuing this weekly practice.
In Acts 2:42 the breaking of bread appears to be central to Christian worship. In Acts 20:7 we are told that the purpose of the church meeting in Troas on the first day of the week was to break bread and in the Corinthian church, the Lord’s Supper was practised so regularly that it caused controversy. Although there is no clear mandate in Scripture to partake in this most special meal every week, doing so has offered many encouragements for our particular context.
Noddfa Church has seen many conversions in recent years and over seventy percent of our congregation are relatively new believers. We are also blessed to have a regular flow of visitors. The Lord’s Supper is a Christ-ordained object lesson that brings the most profound and wonderful truths of the gospel into tangible form. Thus, communion helps the new Christian understand their faith and gives them an immediate opportunity to apply what they have heard in the sermon. Partaking in the meal allows the Christian, however mature, to put their faith into practice. Why would we not want this to happen each week?
The Lord’s Supper also serves to create a clear distinction between those present in the chapel who are saved and those who sadly remain outside of the Kingdom and are simply observing. When they see the reverence and sincerity of those taking the meal each week and hear the message that accompanies the practice it makes a genuine and lasting impression on them. On several occasions I have been asked by those new to church whether they can partake, and these conversations have led them to a fuller understanding of Christ and even to their salvation.
Weekly communion gives an opportunity for people in the church to get involved. Different members supply the bread, others cut and prepare the meal, pour the wine into the glasses, place the trays accordingly and lay the table. The leaders then serve, the glasses are collected and washed at the end. An entire team of people honouring God in practical service each week.
One critique against weekly communion could be that such a regular frequency undermines the importance of the meal, but would we make the same objection against the weekly proclamation of the gospel? Or of public prayer? Or fellowship? There is always a danger of church practices becoming dry, habitual and legalistic. It is up to those administering the ordinance to present them in Spirit and in truth so that the gravity is not lost.
In our ever changing, chaotic and confused world the Lord’s Supper has been a most helpful staple – a weekly physical and visual reminder of what Christ has done and is doing for us until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26).