“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
I was in Perth Australia not too long ago and attended a Church service on Sunday. It was an independent evangelical Church. During the service, the worship leader announced that coming next would be the “Time of Forgiveness”. I did not really know what this was as there was no Church bulletin to give the order of service. So, I was left wondering what this “Time of Forgiveness” was. Later on I saw from the front they were giving the bread and the wine. As I received these elements, I waited, as it is in our Church practice, to partake the bread and wine together as the body of Christ. What happened was as each person received the elements, the individual ate and drank the elements immediately. I did not initially observe what was happening as I was in prayer. When it came to my turn to received the bread, I realised what was happening and did the same-this was the Church practice. Being a visitor and a first-timer in this Church, this was something new as there was no formality or a ceremony in commemorating the Holy Communion. I did not hear the words ” do this in remembrance of me” before the partaking of the bread and wine; and there was no prayer to conclude this sacrament-no acknowledgement of God’s grace or thanksgiving.
These days I have had the opportunity to preach in different Churches of different denominations, and the observance of the Holy Communion (HC) is different from our practice. This particular Church mentioned it as the “Breaking of Bread”. Here also the elements were distributed simultaneously and upon receiving the believer ate and drank immediately. When everyone finished there was a prayer to conclude the “Breaking of Bread”.
These experiences were different and I must confess that I had difficulty in adapting on these occasions as a visitor for the first time (perhaps I have been worshipping far too long in a Presbyterian setting). I somehow missed the way our Pastors in their formal garment administer the Lord’s Supper. There was the invitation to partake, the reading of the Apostles creed, the serving of the bread and wine by the Elders and partaking it all together as a body of Christ. Closing the time with the Lord’s Prayer.
For me, this was something new as a Church culture; and this was acceptable by the congregation. I just followed the “flow” although it was not something we do in TWPC. I conclude that the congregation already knew what HC was without having to “spell” out everything and it was done as a Church, representing the body of Christ. This did not dent my faith, anyway why should it be, because in my heart I did it in remembrance of Christ, and I believe these congregations did also.
Other Churches in Singapore practise the HC differently, but it should not be done as an avenue for healing or to be observed independently as an individual. The setting for HC is done at the congregational level, in remembrance of the work of Christ on the cross. To celebrate the Lord’s death, resurrection and his coming again. It is a time for us to reflect the things of the past, presence and future and how God has led and is leading in our lives. It is a time of gratitude and thanksgiving as we marvel and acknowledge the amazing love God to sent his Son to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. This is the grace of God for us as believers and would like to encourage those who are not baptised to enrol in the baptism class.
In some of my reading I came across some articles regarding the Missional Church. One would get the impression, as we would, that such a Church would be very deep into missions. In their service, they would completely do away with the Lord’s Supper. This was to make the Church to be “user friendly” to newcomers or non-believers lest they find this event offensive or incomprehensible. This is their understanding of being Missional. Is it very strange that the Lord of the Church is not even remembered in the observation of this Holy Sacrament, which was removed for the wrong decision.
“…since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near”. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
This sacrament is a key element of any Church of Christ as it was instituted by the Lord himself. This is the new covenant and our faith is surely strengthen through this observation when Jesus said do this “in remembrance of me”.
Rev Eddie Chandra
November 8, 2015