the weblog of Alan Knox

The supper is a genuine meal, not a ritual to be administered

Posted by on Jul 31, 2013 in blog links, fellowship, gathering, ordinances/sacraments | 9 comments

The supper is a genuine meal, not a ritual to be administered

One of my favorite bloggers, Dave Black, wrote a few thoughts on the “Lord’s Supper” on his blog (Monday, July 29, at 6:58 p.m.).

Earlier (Sunday, July 28, at 5:15 p.m.), Dave had explained that for the first time the believers he gathers with shared a single loaf of bread and a single cup as the Lord’s Supper. I love the fact that Dave celebrates the small steps that a group is willing to take. As we read his further thoughts, it’s easy to see that he would love to change the “Supper” among that church even more. Well, he doesn’t want to change it… he wants to see God change it.

Here are some of the observations that Dave makes concerning the “Lord’s Supper” (from 1 Cor 11 primarily, but also from 1 Cor 10 and Acts 20):

1) The Lord’s Supper is the centerpiece of the Christian assembly.

2) The supper is superbly Christ-centered (“Do this in MY remembrance”).

3) No believer is “invited” to partake of the supper; we eat and drink in obedience to Christ’s command (“Do this” is in the imperative mood).

4) The supper is a genuine meal, not a ritual to be “administered.”

5) The emphasis is both on remembering and anticipating.

6) It is a joyous celebration and not a sorrowful funeral.

7) The meal symbolizes the unity of the Body of Christ.

8) ALL are to partake, and ALL are to partake together.

9) The “unworthy manner” to which Paul refers has nothing to do with one’s spiritual status at the time of eating. It refers to eating and drinking in a divided manner.

10) Self-examination is a necessary part of the Christian life, but in 1 Cor. 11 it is not a reference to the preparedness on the part of the believer. It is a call to observe the social nature of the meal in which distinctions based on partiality of any kind are forbidden.

11) The one loaf of bread not only symbolizes this unity but in some sense creates it.

12) Because there is only one loaf of bread, we are one body no matter how many we are or how diverse we may be. “Many yet one.”

Can you imagine gathering with your brothers and sisters in Christ around a table of food? Can you imagine eating and talking together knowing that Jesus is present (because he is and because it’s his meal)? Can you imagine how much different the teaching, encouraging, serving, and fellowship would be?

So, what would be the benefits of gathering in the way that Dave describes above? Would there be any disadvantages?


9 Comments

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  1. 7-31-2013

    Alan,

    Almost every time our church body gets together we eat. As we do this, it helps remind us that we are a family. Being part of a family carries both privileges and responsibilities. Over all, it’s simply a joyful time in Christ.

  2. 7-31-2013

    Wonderful. Curious, have you ever read anything from Dr. Kenneth E. Bailey, Th.D. Research Scholar and Lecturer in Middle Eastern New Testament Studies. He has become my favorite Scholar and reading his books are great: Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels and Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes: Cultural Studies in 1 Corinthians. Brilliant and altruistic work.

  3. 7-31-2013

    Most excellent! Truly edifying.

  4. 8-1-2013

    Alan,

    If your church did this (and perhaps it does), would you “fence” the table in any way? Robert Banks considers this in his little book Going to Church in the First Century, and he concludes that all should be welcome to partake of the bread and cup, believer and unbelieving guest alike, because there’s no way to exclude guests without being unhospitable.

  5. 8-4-2013

    Eric,

    We do the same thing. I agree, eating together is a great way to remember that we are family and a great opportunity to deepen our relationships with one another.

    Kenneth,

    I’m not familiar with Kenneth Bailey, but I’ll look him up.

    Richard,

    I’m glad this was edifying for you.

    Rick,

    From what I can tell, the only people who should not be invited to eat with us are those who call themselves brothers/sisters in Christ but who do not live according to the gospel (my shortcut description of several reasons given in Scripture to separate from others).

    -Alan

  6. 8-5-2013

    Alan,

    I like that answer!

    Rick

  7. 8-7-2013

    Excellent post, Alan. Wonderful points from Dave Black. Surely the Lord’s supper is much much more than just another somber ritual.

  8. 8-8-2013

    Nice piece, Alan. Sounds like the idea is catching on. Some resources I hope might be helpful . . .

    Two of my favorite authors and works in this regard:

    Tim Chester’s “A Meal With Jesus”: http://lambblood.com/church-as-a-meal.html (excerpt from his book)
    and
    Eric Svendsen’s “The Table of the Lord”: http://comingintheclouds.org/church/basics/table_of_lord.pdf (free PDF book)

    I’ve consolidated several other authors in this article: http://lambblood.com/lord-s-supper-logic.html

    Reflections on “Who Should Eat The Lord’s Supper?”: http://lambblood.com/who-should-eat-the-lord-s-supper-.html

  9. 8-11-2013

    Surit,

    Thank for the comment. I agree completely.

    Rick,

    I’ve read parts of Chester’s book, but I haven’t read Svendsen’s. Thanks for the link.

    -Alan