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
Last Sunday at Collegium, Prib suggested that we might remember the body of Christ every time we eat bread (for example, when the breadbasket arrives at Il Fornaio). In this case, the server (who may or may not be a follower of Jesus) brings the bread. For them, this act is part of their job; for us, this act is worship. Jeff suggested that we incorporate our findings into Tenebrae 2008 (possibly a Passover Meal), to provide a learning opportunity for the congregation.
Yesterday at Collegium we discussed the question, “Who should pass out the bread and wine for communion?” Several possible answers were given at the beginning: priests, pastors, deacons, leaders, believers, and anyone. Mere moments into the discussion, we decided that the question itself makes no biblical sense. The New Testament presents Communion/Eucharist/Lord’s Supper as part of a meal. In a meal, the elements would be passed according to common table practice—from person to person. Our preliminary conclusion was that the believer sitting next to you at the meal would pass the elements and then you would pass them to the person next to you. Thus, anyone at the table both gives and receives the bread and cup.
The discussion yesterday went on to consider the meaning of the elements. Here is my take:
In our Baptist tradition, the elements are often described as “just symbols.” Given how the New Testament discusses communion (Matt 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-23; John 13:1-20; 1 Cor 10:14-22; 11:17-34), it is much more that “just symbol.” Rather communion is a symbol—in the true meaning of the term. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “symbol” means “Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible.” As such, the bread and cup represent the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. By eating and drinking, we experience not bread and wine, but body and blood. We remember, participate in, and are nourished by the redemptive sacrifice of the God-Man, Jesus.
In our TFB tradition, we wait for one another, together eating the bread and drinking cup. This reminds us of our unity; it reminds us that the church is the one to whom this memorial meal is given. In this taking of bread and cup, we remind ourselves that our individual and corporate sins required Jesus’ sacrifice. We remind ourselves that his sacrifice cleanses both me and us. Therefore, in our eating and drinking we declare to one another our sin and his cleansing.
Tag(s): eucharist THEOLOGY
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org/