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Articles

As Often As You Eat And Drink

Since the night before our Lord was crucified, Christ’s disciples have observed His supper on a regular basis. He states in Matthew 26:29, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” While He is not with us in body while we partake of it, the simple act of worship is left to us as His solemn promise that He will return. Not only that, but it is our weekly remembrance of that promise – “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). As a subject of study, the communion is sometimes overlooked because of the repetition of its practice. Because we partake of it so often, we do not always remember that there is a constant need for reminder in all things contained in the Gospel.

It seems that the most obvious scriptural legislation on when to partake is found in Acts 20:7, which says, “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…” Of this verse, one writer stated, “This is an important example of the weekly communion as the practice of the first Christians. Comparing the phrase, ‘to break bread,’ with Luke’s account of the institution of the [Lord’s supper] (Luke 22:19)… and Paul’s language (1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:24), it is impossible not to conclude that the breaking of bread in celebration of the Lord’s supper is an essential part of [worship] which man may not for any specious reason omit” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol. XVIII, 143). The fact is that these Christians partook of the communion on the first day of the week, Sunday, at a time that is not indicated in the text. The inference, therefore, is that all Christians ought to follow this example of an apostolically-appointed church tradition (1 Corinthians 11:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:15). As for how often the communion should be observed, our inference must lead us to believe that because no specific Sunday is indicated in the text, then it is every Sunday that we should participate in the Lord’s supper.

However, some will say that it is acceptable to God to only partake of the communion every now and then, perhaps just once a month. But do we do the same thing to any other aspects of worship? When we meet every Sunday, do we allot one Sunday for singing only and then neglect that part of worship for the rest of the month? What about prayer? What about studying scripture?

Others are quick to assert that weekly communion cheapens the experience, making it commonplace, routine, or mundane. This, however, assumes something about people that is not necessarily true – that is, that regular participation in something will naturally cause us to lose interest in it. Would we  apply this same excuse to our marriages? Or rituals we do with our children, such as nightly bedtime stories and songs (that they find quite valuable)? What about a favorite morning routine? Or a weekly television program? Remember, not every person partaking of the Lord’s supper has been doing it for thirty years. Even though some might consider it mundane after decades of observance (which does not make such an attitude right, by the way) there might be new converts in the assembly who are eager to remember the death of their Lord by memorial every week. Rather than scheduling the communion in such a way that assumes human boredom, we should hold people accountable and trust that God’s method (every first day of the week) actually works! RG