Did you know that the way you partake of “The Supper” demonstrates what you believe about God, Jesus, and the church? It’s true.
In his essay, Black spells out several aspects of modern practices of the Lord’s Supper that are radically different (perhaps even contradictory) to the way the church ate a common meal together as described by the NT authors.
This paragraph is my favorite:
Is it too much to hope that our churches today might return to this biblical model? How can we start to overcome our lethargy? We can only do this, as I have said, when we return to a commitment to obedience. Wherever the church honestly faces its task to be scriptural in all its dealings, believers will discover new ways and means of restoring modern practices to their ancient models. Acts 20:7 underscores this point. Here Luke speaks of a meeting of the church in which the focal point was not a sermon but a common meal. This was apparently the common practice of the early church whenever they gathered on â€œthe Lordâ€™s Day.â€ Today we gather for â€œworshipâ€ and occasionally tack on the Lordâ€™s Supper almost as an addendum. I imagine this would have appeared very strange to New Testament eyes! The early church knew nothing of worship services or worship centers or worship teams or worship folders. Nor were the earliest gatherings of Christians â€œtop heavy,â€ leaving the ministry to a handful of selected professionals. Theirs was a one-class society â€“ all saints, all priests, all members of the Christian brotherhood with Christ as their only Head. This is why, I surmise, the Lordâ€™s Supper was so important to them. The Supper offers us an occasion to focus on our Great High Priest, the churchâ€™s only Senior Pastor (see 1 Pet. 5:4). Moreover, it seems that the Lordâ€™s Supper was a full meal in New Testament times. Indeed, if we ask ourselves what the word â€œsupperâ€ means, we find that the Greek word used is deipnon, which generally refers to the chief meal of the day. Such is its meaning consistently in the pages of the New Testament. Would it be too radical to suggest that the way in which the Lordâ€™s Supper was observed in the early church â€“ as a full meal â€“ could also be replicated today?
I’ve found that, yes, it is possible for churches today to begin eating the Lord’s Supper as a full meal. But, it is radical, because several things had to change (things mentioned by Black above) before this was possible.