Previously, I have described how we partake of the Lord’s Supper (see “The Lord’s Supper (one example)“). Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Dustin, a brother from nearby Greensboro, NC. He is one of the elders of Shepherd’s Fellowship of Greensboro, and blogs at “Grace in the Triad“. I asked Dustin to describe how they partake of the Lord’s Supper. I thought this might be encouraging to some of my readers. The following is his description:
Here is a basic rundown of the “mechanics” of how we do the Supper:
1. After we finish our church meeting, the ladies are busy prepping the “pot-providence” dishes and table while the guys are helping break down sound equipment and moving tables where they need to be for the meal. One family rotates each week on a schedule to determine who is responsible to bring the elements for the supper (the bread and grape juice). We sit out the whole loaf and a huge pitcher of grape juice at the end of the table with the rest of the food. Folks are also able to use the bathroom, etc., at this time. This is about 15 minutes.
2. We all stand in a circle, hold hands, and pray before eating the meal. This can be quite fun with 65-70 people! I (or whoever is leading) then prays a prayer of Thanksgiving for the food with a sense of joy and gladness because we are prefiguring the marriage supper of the Lamb â€“ a time of intense, face-to-face fellowship with Jesus in heaven that will happen in the future (Acts 2:46; Rev. 19:6-9).
3. Folks get their food in a buffet fashion, and since we use a whole loaf, the believers can go through and simply take a piece of the loaf and put it on their plate when they pass through. They also pour out some juice at the end of the buffet line into their own cups. We also allow children and unbelievers to have some of the juice and bread if they want (the bread tastes good cause’ it’s homemade), but we warn the parents not to teach their children to partake of it as an ordinance [which would basically be akin to infant baptism], but that its o.k. to eat it as part of the fellowship meal if they want.
4. Once people are eating, fellowshipping, etc. we get their attention for a moment and I or another elder (or any capable believer) “fences the table” by reading and briefly but accurately explaining or reminding folks of the warning found in 1 Cor. 11:27-34. We basically explain to the hearers how the rich Christians despised the poor in the church at Corinth by eating most of the food before the poor got there (thus treating them like 2nd class Christians), and they were also getting drunk off of the communion wine. We exhort sinning Christians in our midst (esp. those who have sinned against a fellow believer and treated them contemptuously) to avoid partaking so that they can further focus on their need to reconcile with their brother and sister and with God whom they’ve sinned against. This has served to cause people to reconcile beforehand so that they can partake of the elements with a good conscience (which is exactly what we want!) We also focus on reminding the unbelievers in our midst to watch the Christians partake of this part of the meal because it is not only a remembrance of Christ’s death but also a pre-figuring of that sweet time in heaven at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19) and it is a reminder of their need to be washed clean of their sins by the shed blood of Jesus.
NAU 1 Corinthians 11:27-34 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.
5. Next, whoever is leading (a) Reads 1 Cor. 11:23-24, (b) believers then joyfully partake of the bread, and then (c) the leader leads in a brief prayer of thanksgiving for God’s love demonstrated through breaking Christ’s body for the Church.
NAU 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
6. When it looks like most folks are finished eating their meal, the leader reads 1 Cor. 11:25-26 and we all partake of the cup together:
NAU 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
7. We then have a brief closing prayer of thanksgiving to God for the atonement of Christ and we remember with joyful anticipation His second coming.
All of this may sound a little cumbersome, but it’s not bad at all. We have thoroughly enjoyed doing it this way and I can say that it has had a truly “sacramental” effect on our church body in accordance with 1 Cor. 10 ( i.e., the Holy Spirit building unity and koinonia through the shared Supper). After doing it this way, I’d *never* go back to crackers and a thimble-full of grape juice. I’m just too spoiled now!
I appreciate Dustin for sharing this with me and allowing me to share it with my readers. I pray that this is beneficial to our brothers and sisters who read it. If you have any questions for Dustin, or if you would like to comment on this description of the Lord’s Supper, please feel free to use the comments here.