Monday, 23 April 2012

Weekly communion

I was interested to read the posts and readers' comments here: "How often should a church celebrate communion?"

I join with the commenters who, being part of churches which practice weekly communion, now find the whole conversation to be verging upon the bizarre. I don't think I'd use words, like Taylor, that it's a "badge of honour"; but it's something simply very natural for people who believe the gospel to do; and, I argue, unnatural not to do.

The purpose of a weekly believers' fellowship is to praise God's name, present our prayers to him and hear God's word preached and remember his Son's death. To do the last of those, Jesus specifically gave us the Lord's Supper - and concerning that one, we have rather more explicit instructions than the others.

How did we end up in a position where remembering the death of Jesus week by week becomes something that's up for debate?

Does anyone want to start debating whether we should pray in the church meetings this week?

Preach this week?

Sing hymns to God this week?

That would be quite a bizarre discussion, would it not?

One reader of my paper, a pastor, said that the important thing was not whether we keep the Lord's Supper or not, but that we make sure we focus on Jesus. That comment struck me as being self-contradictory. The Lord's Supper is the means that Jesus himself gave us to help us do that very thing.

If I were to say that it's of minor significance as to whether the car has an engine, but that the real matter is whether it gets us to the destination or not - is that not bizarre?

To quote a few readers' comments from the above post:
How often do we want to be trained in unity? How often do we want to proclaim the Lord’s death? And how often do we eat with our fleshly family, and friends, and the world, and why would we not want to eat with Jesus as much as possible to trump (or counter) those times?
It strikes me that neither Bancroft nor Stewart gives any arguments against doing it weekly. Bancroft gives no arguments at all, and Stewart argues that it’s bad to insist that it must be done weekly. But that’s not a reason not to do it weekly, just a reason not to make it legalistically required. Since Van Neste just thinks it’s a good idea to do it weekly (and not some absolute requirement such that we sin if we don’t), I don’t think the other two have argued against his position at all.
Amen. I argued the same in my paper.
Why is the burden of proof on those who want weekly communion? Why does the point need to be argued any more than does weekly preaching, or weekly congregational singing, etc?

Reasons to practice weekly communion:
    1. We commune with Christ in the Supper.
    2. We remember Christ’s death and resurrection in the Supper.
    3. Our faith is strengthened and our soul nourished in the Supper.

    Why would you not want to do this every Sunday?
Amen, amen, amen. My own paper on the subject contains the same arguments as Van Neste's in the link above, at greater length.


1 comment:

Ned Kelly said...

I enjoyed your paper. I can see no reason to not celebrate communion weekly, or even more frequently. Why not whenever people gather together in worship, whether it be in an established church building, or in a home group? I am obviously ignorant of a denomination's rules regarding the communion wafer and the wine, but as practised in the earliest days, I would assume that it was ordinary bread and wine, nothing special, nothing blessed by a pastor, just ordinary fare from ordinary people celebrating communion.