Where do we take the Lords Supper?

by Peter Farmer on 13/05/2008

Whenever we used to do ‘communion’ in our ‘services’ it always felt uncomfortable- the long silence, the solemn religious atmosphere, the waiting for a plate with some pieces of bread and a thimble of ribena- the same passage read from the Bible ritualistically. Do you know what I mean?

Recently I have been reading Acts 2:42-47 with fresh eyes. The early church met from house to house, breaking bread and sharing their meals with great joy and generosity.

So- the bread was not cut up into a square! It was not some strange ritual! It was part of the community-life of the disciples. Families that spent time with each other and ate together regularly. Bread often featured as part of their meals, so at the start they would break bread, pass it round and remember Jesus as being present with them, they’d eat their food joyfully and share wine afterwards.

Some people got a bit excessive and started getting drunk on the wine, some got greedy and started eating all the food as soon as they arrived; not waiting for some of the poorer brothers. (see 1 Cor 11:20-22) Now, there must have been a sizeable amount of bread and wine as you could hardly get drunk on a thimble and be in a hurry to eat a little piece of dried-up bread!

So the breaking of bread was in the context of a meal- a bit like a bring-and-share- remembering Jesus as being present in the church

Where do we go from here? Any thoughts…

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

tom May 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm

hi pete
yea agree the context of lord’s supper should be a community meal. but it raises a few practical questions…

it seems that sometimes in the early church the lord’s supper was open to anyone, but at other times it was an in-house thing just for the core community. i’m wondering what the way ahead is. maybe both?

i have been doing communion in the context of meal for a while now. but the question for me is ‘to what extent is this different from any other meal? what makes it distinctively communion/lord’s supper/agape’? Basically ‘what elements need to be present to make sure this is intentional?’

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peterfarmer May 26, 2008 at 10:40 am

Hey Tom
My feeling is that the intentionality is in Jesus being the central focus for gathering in the first place. This is what causes it to be different to people just eating chips together.

Maybe this can involve people who are not part of the core community, but are on the periphery looking in and deciding whether to join The Way themselves

But if they are looking, they are looking at the Way not just a meal at Mcdonalds I think

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peterfarmer May 26, 2008 at 10:43 am

Another way of putting it: ‘Am i eating to myself or to the Lord?’ ‘Are we discerning the Lords body?’ ‘Are we declaring the Lords death and resurrection until he comes?’

The principle comes before the practice. If we meet for Jesus, in Jesus and around loving each other as Jesus loves us, than it truly will be communion, lord’s supper, agape

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tom June 18, 2008 at 3:36 pm

yea i agree mr pete.
iive been doing a bit of homework – looking at the anabaptists … really interesting. i recommend checking out http://www.abc.net.au/rn/encounter/stories/2007/1950197.htm
which is the transcript of a radio interview/discussion about it. food for thought!
esp re their view on church and state being seperate … raises some sticky issues i need to think through re the anglican church.
tom

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C November 7, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I found that interview convicting, in particular when John Hirt said “When the reformers talked about reformation, the Anabaptists talked about restitution. They wanted the church to be restored right back to the New Testament faith… and Lorenzen’s comment that they felt that the reformers’ commitment to the authority of the Scriptures was not radical enough…and Menno Simon’s conviction and writing such as “For however industriously we may search day and night, we yet find but one baptism in the water pleasing to God, which is expressed and contained in his word, namely: Baptism on the confession of faith, commanded by Christ Jesus, taught and administered by his holy apostles, which is administered and received for the forgiveness and remission of sins.”
(Menno Simons, Teachings of the Holy Apostles Concerning Baptism in the Water.) & “When ministers repose on easy beds and downy pillows, we have to hide ourselves in secluded corners; when they at weddings and feasts, pipe and beat the tambour and vaunt loudly, we must look out, when the dogs bark, lest the captors be at hand. Whist they are saluted as doctors, lords and teachers by everyone, we have to hear that we are Anabaptists, hedge preachers, deceivers and heretics, and must be saluted in the name of the devil. In short, whilst they are gloriously rewarded for their services with large incomes and easy times, our recompense and portion must be fire, sword and death.”
Menno Simons, Renunciation of the Church

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Roger Marks December 10, 2010 at 2:12 am

There was no such thing as “communion” in the NT church. Until Constantine nationalised the church, the church ate together. The very fact of them meeting together for a meal made it what it was, ackowledging the Lord’s death.

One of the main purposes of the meal was to ensure that the poor and needy had something to eat.

I have been reading books about life in the middle east and a common invite is “come and break bread with me” which meant “come and have a meal with me.”

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Lyn McNair February 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I agree with the last post. ‘Breaking bread’ was just a Jewish way of saying ‘sharing a meal’. We regularly hold a Shabbat meal on a Friday night (the beginning of the original Sabbath) and our house church shares the meal. Jesus was attending a passover meal (His last supper) and quite clearly states ‘when you do this, remember me’ and this implies to me that every time we come together as a body of believers and share a meal, we remember Him. Some believe He was only referring to passover but this would exclude Gentiles, so I believe it’s whenever we observe the Sabbath (be it Friday to Saturday or on a Sunday).

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Sarah March 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I’ve always loathed the way people go all solemn and sombre before they “remember Him” with their crumb of bread and sip of red coloured liquid!!! Remembering Him should be a celebration and fun occasion, IMO, so as I love eating with followers of The Way and seekers of The Truth I will go with eating a proper full on meal and having a party in His name.

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