Monday, January 11, 2016

Communion Questions

There are some things I've never really understood about what we call “communion” in protestant churches. Or any churches really.

Before I write this, let me say I'm not necessarily criticizing any church or their practices. I'm not saying that they are doing communion wrong. The Bible says very little about how the Lord’s Table is supposed to be done, but there are a few things that I notice, which causes me to ask questions.

Question 1: Why do we have little crackers and little cups (or even broken bread and a common cup) in the middle of a service?

The Last Supper, as it’s known, when Jesus did the first “communion”, was a meal. To be specific, the ritual was performed at the end of a meal, a Passover meal.

Later, in 1st Corinthians, Paul describes the Lord's Table, what we today refer to as “communion” in church. What he describes is again something in the context of a meal. Essentially it's a huge pot luck.

I'm not going to discuss communion theology or the economic status issue of Corinth. But, I do observe that the examples of the Lord’s Table are parts of meals. I get that if a church has 300, 400, or 500 people, the logistics of having a meal-based Lord’s Supper for everyone would be daunting to say the least. I don't know how that would ever be done with regularity. However, in a small church with 40, 50 or 60 people, possibly even more, especially if that church already has a regular meal, I'm not sure why the Lord’s Table wouldn't be done at the time. If the bible describes a meal, why not have a meal? Again this just a question.

Question 2: Why do churches put such a premium on only allowing Christians (or baptized Christians) to participate?

Something I notice in the first Lord's Supper, is that Judas participated. Jesus freely included him. I don't think we today would consider him to be a Christian in good standing.

Later, in first Corinthians, Paul describes those who eat and drink in an unworthy manner to be eating and drinking judgment to themselves. Now to be sure, I think it's good to not take the Lord's Table if you are eating and drinking to your own judgment. However, I'm not sure churches should be presenting the activity as something that only Christians can participate in. Scripture doesn't seem to bear that out. Of course, it would be good to let everyone know that the elements are not magical. They won’t bring good luck or good fortune. Nevertheless, it seems unbelievers are not prohibited from the Lord’s Table.

To conclude, again, I am NOT criticizing churches for doing what they do. I'm not telling them what they should do. The fact is that the scriptures really say very little about how the Lord's Table should look. That said, these are just questions I've always had and probably always will. I'm sure I'm not the first.

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