One of the things I miss about not ‘going to church’ is the corporate fellowship and the various yearly and ecclesiastical rituals which the local Body enjoys. One of those is the Communion or the Eucharist.
Growing up, I had never really participated in one, except for the various Fifth Sunday services at the Winbourne Baptist Church (SBC), during my late teen years. The holiness church which I attended never had one for whatever reason. When I arrived in West Virginia, at my previous congregation, we had one service a year at New Year’s. I often inquired, with no good answer, why it was at this time of the year and not at Easter. I mean, if you are going to do it once a year, why not during the time in which it was inaugurated.
So, this Sunday, after being impressed about it, my wife and I have decided to have a small communion service ourselves. Granted, I would rather have a corporate service, but this will have to do.
No, I don’t intend to sit out the corporate experience for the rest of my life, just waiting. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean, you know?
I am reminded that the early Church practiced the breaking of the bread, which I interpret as the Eucharistic service, everyday. And look how they grew in unity.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity- all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Act 2:42-47 NLT)
Further, it is a command of the Lord to do so.
So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (Joh 6:53-56 NLT)
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.
Mark my words– I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” (Mat 26:26-29 NLT)
And from Paul –
For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”
In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people– an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.”
For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. (1Co 11:23-26 NLT)
From Ignatius, a disciple of John and Peter with knowledge of Paul and Matthew –
“I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” (Letter to the Romans 7:3 ).
“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 ).
From Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, a disciple of John –
“If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?” (Against Heresies 4:33–32 ).
“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?” (ibid., 5:2).
“here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed , in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands , that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God” (The Resurrection of the Dead 8 ).
So, this Sunday, my family and I will have our first breaking of the bread.