This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. Luke 22: 19
At Disciples Church we celebrate The Lord’s Supper (also called Communion) on the first weekend of every month. We do this during our regular weekly worship services on that weekend.
The Lord’s Supper is primarily a time when we join together around a symbolic meal to remember what the Lord Jesus has done for us. From God’s Word we find that the sacrament has four practical purposes:
1. It reminds us in a dramatic manner of the death of Jesus Christ in our place for our sins.
2. It calls Christians to put their sin to death in light of the fact that Jesus died for our sins and compels us to examine ourselves and repent of sin before partaking.
3. It shows the unity of God’s people around the person and work of Jesus.
4. It anticipates our participation in the marriage supper of the Lamb (Jesus) when His Kingdom comes in its fullness.
In the New Testament, God’s Word teaches us that Christians should participate regularly in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11: 23 – 32; Matthew 26: 26 – 29; Luke 22: 14 – 23 and Mark 14: 22 – 25). Partaking in the Lord’s Supper involves a recognition that, for Christians, the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice include communion with both God and one another – and in faith Christians are to partake of the Lord’s Supper until one day they see Jesus and sit to eat with Him as friends in His Kingdom.
In the Gospel of John, where it records Jesus miraculously feeding of over 5,000 people (Chapter 6), Jesus warns the people that consuming physical food will not provide eternal life. Instead, He told them to feed on Himself – not literally of course, but by faith. Through faith in Jesus and partaking of Him they would live forever, for union with Jesus means salvation.
We meet Jesus at His table, to which He comes to give Himself to us. As we receive the elements of the bread and the wine in the presence of Christ, so we partake of Him and all His benefits. We “feed upon Him in our hearts” with thanksgiving.
What Does The Lord’s Supper Involve?
On the night before Jesus was betrayed and taken away for crucifixion, He joined with His disciples in celebrating a Jewish Passover meal. During this meal, Jesus took bread and wine and told His disciples that these elements represented His body and blood. As He broke the bread and poured out the wine to share with His disciples, Jesus said this represented His broken body and His shed blood. In doing this, Jesus named Himself as the true “lamb of the Passover” (Exodus 12: 21 – 23) whose death would deliver His people from the bondage of sin. They shared the bread and wine together and Jesus told them to repeat what they had just done as a means of remembering Him and His atoning death.
When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper today, we essentially do the same thing. We take bread and we take wine, sharing them together as we remember what these elements represent – the broken body and shed blood of our Lord Jesus, who died that our sins might be forgiven.
The Lord’s Supper is to be considered as participation in a family around a table rather than a sacrifice on an altar. Furthermore, it should be an occasion when God’s loving grace impacts us deeply so that the Gospel takes deeper and deeper root in our lives.
How Is Christ Present At The Lord’s Supper?
While the bread and the wine symbolise the body and blood of Christ, Jesus is spiritually present in a special way as we share and receive the bread and wine. Jesus promised to be present whenever Christians gather for worship – Where two or more gather together in my name, I am there among them (Matthew 18: 20).
Who Should Participate In The Lord’s Supper?
Only Christians should participate in The Lord’s Supper because the sacrament is a sign of being a Christian and continuing to live the Christian life. People who are not professing Christians should not participate, and we should not encourage them to until they have professed faith in Christ.
Christians who come to the Lord’s table are warned to examine themselves (1 Corinthians 11). Their behaviour must be consistent with the Gospel they claim to embrace. Before they participate in the meal, they should examine themselves in terms of their attitudes toward other believers (how they are treating others), because the Lord’s Supper itself is a place of proclaiming the Gospel.
Children who have professed faith in Christ may participate in the Lord’s Supper.
Baptism is not a pre-requisite for participation in the Lord’s Supper, however we encourage someone who has professed faith in Christ to be Baptised at the earliest opportunity.
Who Should Administer The Lord’s Supper?
Scripture gives no explicit teaching on who should administer the Lord’s Supper. We therefore conclude that we may decide what is wise and appropriate for the benefit of the believers in the Church.
At Disciples Church, our practice is that one of our Pastors or Elders will lead the congregation during the celebration of the sacrament. Both men and women may assist in distributing the bread and wine.
How Often Should The Lord’s Supper Be Celebrated?
Scripture does not tell us, however, the sense of the biblical passages on this subject would imply it being a regular practice. At Disciples Church, we’ve decided that a monthly observance is a nice balance between hardly ever and every week.