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Fundamentally (always a good word to start replies with on this site), I don't think that communion is more or less "special" based on frequency. It's more or less special based on theology. If you believe that the Eucharist is a unique event in which God dispenses grace to you in the form of receiving and participating in Christ himself, it's special. If you believe that it's a little ceremony we go through in which WE are the agents of the action, and Christ is simply the OBJECT of our MEMORY, it's not special. It's just not. I don't know, maybe it is for some people, but I've never met a Baptist/Zwinglian who seemed to me to derive deep spiritual nourishment from the sacrament.
The last church of which I was a full member practiced it every week, and it was so special; tears and praises special, every week.
Specialness... Kind of depends on whether you're talking about "a feeling that something really special is happening" or the actual reality that something special is happening.
In both cases, doing exactly the same thing frequently has a certain built in tendency to lose any feeling of specialness. There are ways to resist that. But I'm not sure how important it is to resist that. It's not about getting a feeling.
Ed V said:
Our Church plant celebrates communion every week. We are more Zwinglian in our beliefs and even though we do it more frequently, it has not become dull and lifeless. In fact it has done the opposite. It has kept our focus on Christ because of his atoning sacrifice.
I used to celebrate communion quarterly. However, I never liked tacking bread, juice and a couple songs on to the end of a service. So, communion services were always dedicated to communion. The message, the music, finally the observation of the memorial all pertained to same central theme. We also varied the timing, sometimes Sunday morning, sometimes Sunday evening, occasionally on Wednesday night.
Quarterly works best for us. Each time we observe the Lord's Supper we rotate through different extended accounts of the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Messiah (4 Gospels, Acts, or Psalms) to read through during the service, along with singing psalms/hymns/spiritual songs related to the particular Scriptural text. We normally make comments on the Scriptures throughout the service, but we do not have a regular sermon that day.
The Lord's Supper is very special (we observe the first Sunday of every month). We are repeating an object lesson that the Lord Jesus Christ first used on the very night He was arrested and then went to the cross. The object lesson at that time pointed forward toward the cross, now as we re-observe that same object lesson, we look back to the cross. As we remember, let us not only remember what Christ did, but that He gave us a wonderful illustration that involved bread and the fruit of the vine to help us focus on what He did as He broke His body and shed His blood. Most of us find object lessons in children's church or other venues stirring, so why shouldn't the Lord's Supper be stirring?
Or there about. We practice closed communion so we try to take it during a pm service when visitors are at a minimum. We don't all scoot to one side, we just explain our convictions and I pass the plates to the congregation. Some folks visited for the first time one night and were totally put out with being told that they were welcome to stay but communion would only be served to the members of our church.
This year we are having the service Saturday night before Easter. I hope that it is more meaningful than just another Sunday service. I have always devoted the whole service to the meal, 2 hymns and a short devotion on the meaning of these elements with a time for prayer. I have started baking my own unleavened bread so that we can break it in the service together. I have one plate with a whole piece that I break while we are assembled, and another plate with pieces already broken in it. I think these broken pieces do a better job of illustrating His sacrifice than a square or a circle, each piece is unique like us.
Growing up, my church did the usual Baptist schedule of once a month. Where I'm going now, we celebrate it every week as a reminder that the Gospel is the one thing that can bring us all together. We have people from all over the world; from every financial and educational station in life; and with every sort of "sin history" you can rattle off...and yet we are all reminded every week that we are all brothers and sisters - family - in Christ.
Grace Brethren normally celebrate Threefold Communion twice a year. Some GB churches celebrate it three times per year, and I personally don't know of any that celebrate it four or more times, though there may be a few that do. I really don't know why the GB churches settled on twice per year. Perhaps it goes back to Alexander Mack in Germany or Germantown, Philadelphia PA. I'd like to celebrate it quarterly. We have a rather unique form of communion bread. A woman makes a plain pie crust, cuts it into rectangles, and scores each rectangle with a fork so it may be easily broken. It works very nicely and tastes much better than most other forms of communion bread.
Interesting Jim. You take communion to shut ins? Always wondered how this satisfied "when you come together as a church." (1 Cor 11:18) Perhaps fodder for another thread.
It seems to me that part of any ministry to shut-ins would necessitate communion as well as visits. I can't imagine any good reason to deny that to someone who is unable (for whatever reason) to make it to church. If a person was hospitalized for a long time - say if they had been in a serious accident and would be in the hospital for a month - why not take communion over when you and a elder/deacon visited them?
Just thinking aloud here.
Four times in 1 Corinthians 11 (verses 17, 20, 33, 34) while addressing the Lord's Table, Paul uses the qualifying statement, "when you come together." If the church is gathered, and some are absent from the gathering for one reason or another, we have still come together. However, if the pastor and/or a few others visit a shut-in without the rest of the body, we have not come together as a body for the meeting.
Though I have not thought about the matter to a large degree an immediate question does come to mind.
When our Lord inaugurated His Supper, certainly those that had come together were not all the believers who were following Jesus. It seems that the generally assembly of the believers is not the only occasion where the Lord's Supper may be celebrated but as well and as exampled by Jesus, there may be private or special commencements not involving a general assembly.
Would you agree that the first Lord's Supper was a transitional event tied to the Passover, and, as such, may not be normative just as much of the book of Acts describes the transitional church without being the expected norm today? After all, it is clearly a church ordinance, but the church had not yet officially begun at the time of the first Lord's Supper.
If you are not going to take the phrase in 1 Cor. 11 to identify the church body gathered together, particularly in a letter written to the church body primarily about the function of the church body, how would you explain the meaning of the phrase?
I see your argument about transitions and recognize that at times it is applicable. In this case I would have to give your question(s) more thought. Time presses for the next few days.
If a church has a baptismal service at an outdoor location, but it's fairly far away, and nowhere near all of the people come, is it NOT the church?
I have a hard time seeing how the pastor couldn't ask for a bunch of people from the church (as many as are allowed) to come to a hospital room of someone who is there long-term, and celebrate a service and the Lord's supper with them.
The gospels and Acts certainly may be transitional, but it would be hard to point to something there as a wrong practice just because it occurred at that time. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized far from any church (though I'm sure there were witnesses), even though the church had already started by then. I can think of a lot of good reasons to not do baptisms in that manner today, but I can't think of any reason to call one wrong if done in that way.
Finally, the Jerusalem church was very large at its beginning (at least 5000 within a couple weeks), and the scriptures clearly mention them breaking bread from house to house. I rather doubt any one house held that many, and we see no record of them renting the local colosseum so that all 5000 could meet every time in one location. Were those local meetings not the church?
If the power of Jesus is with a group of two or three who are gathered together (Matthew 18:20), how is it not present when two or three are gathered together for worship via prayer, singing, or observance of the Lord's Table?
It wasn't a church at all.
Jesus told the twelve to do this in remembrance of Him. Then, when the church is formed in the early days following Pentecost, the apostles make everyone aware that this is a church institution.
Otherwise, it might still be an annual event at Passover.
Our church takes it weekly. It can be wonderful to remember the Lords sacrifice that way every week. The danger is that it can become routine and can lose its significance. That has happened to me in the past. I usually read Isaiah 53 before the Lords Supper to help me get focused on his sacrifice.
Seems like anything we do over and over exactly the same way tends to numb us. There are ways to beat that though. I've seen weekly done very well.
Consider the other sacrament or ordinance, namely baptism. Was it practiced strictly and only with the body coming together after the church began (I will assume the view of the church beginning later than the Gospels for the sake of the argument)? If so, are there corollaries that rule both which would require one to consider a more broad range of when the Lord's Supper is observed? In other words, if, as an ordinance/sacrament baptism may be administered in other settings, does this impact the Lord's Supper which is also an an ordinance/sacrament of the church?
I understand your point, Alex, however, there is one key difference. There are no commands to hold baptisms when the church has gathered and there are examples (albeit transitional) of holding baptisms outside of church gatherings. I don't the issue is that they are ordinances, but that one seems to be commanded in the wording of 1 Cor. 11.