Is it OK that My church doesn't have Communion every Sunday?
Should the Lord's Supper be observed every Sunday? To answer this question, we cannot depend on the practice of churches today, for some churches observe the Lord's Supper monthly and others only once or twice a year. For God's answer to the question, we must go to the Bible itself.
When Jesus instituted the Supper, he was eating the Passover with his disciples. But at the dinner, according to Luke's account in Chapter 22:19-20, "He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. And the cup in like manner after supper saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you".
Jesus was instituting a completely new memorial, not one like the Passover looking back to Egypt, but one in remembrance of him, of his death and of the new covenant he was bringing to men. "As often as you do this" indicates that it was not a single isolated incident, but was to be observed with regularity. Since he did not indicate when or how often the memorial was to be observed, we must look further to the record of the apostles, who received the Holy Spirit to instruct and guide them into all truth. What the church did under the direction of the apostles must have been God's will.
Let us look then at the record. In Chapter 20:7 of Acts, it is said that at Paul's return to Troas, "Upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them. - . " This states clearly that the purpose of their gathering together was "to break bread", or observe the Lord's Supper. It is also clear that this was on the first day of the week, which had become the regular time for the meeting of Christians, and which John, in Chapter 1, verse 10 of Revelations, calls "the Lord's Day".
That the early church under the direct guidance of the inspired apostles observed the Lord's Supper on the first day of every week is the testimony of all biblical scholars and church historians of every denomination. Mosheim, in his celebrated Ecclesiastical History, volume 1,
Pages 46 and 85 says: "The first of all the Christian churches founded by the apostles was that at Jerusalem; and after the form and model of this all the others of that age were constituted. That church, however, was governed immediately by the apostles, to whom the presbyters (or elders) and the deacons, or overseers of the poor, were subject. Though the people had not withdrawn themselves from the Jewish worship, yet they held their separate meetings, in which they were instructed by the apostles and presbyters (or elders), offered up their united prayers, celebrated the sacred supper, the memorial of Jesus Christ, and the salvation he procured . . . . The Christians of this century assembled for the worship of God and for their advancement in piety on the first day of the week, the day on which Christ reassumed life; for that this day was set apart for religious worship by the apostles themselves, and that after the example of the Church at Jerusalem, it was generally observed we have unexceptional testimony."
For the first three centuries, then, the church observed the Lord's Supper each first day of the week. Testimony to this fact comes from Justin Martyr, one of the earliest church fathers. To those who were sick and unable to attend the assembly, the communion was carried to their homes. It was not till the fourth century that the church became careless and began to lose her first love.
The Didache records in 90 AD:
But how important is it that Christians observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday? The letter to the Hebrews is a constant appeal to them to remain faithful, and in Chapter 10, verse 25, the writer urges them not to "forsake our assembling together as the manner of some is". Fearing persecution, some had evidently been missing the meetings and were in danger of falling away. When we remember that the central purpose of the meetings was to partake of the Lord's Supper, this suggests its importance in keeping people faithful.
Furthermore, in Chapter 11, verse 26, of the first Corinthian letter, the Apostle Paul emphasizes the importance of the Lord's Supper. He repeats the instructions of the Lord, and declares that in observing the Lord's Supper we "proclaim the Lord's death until he comes". But because some partake of it in an unworthy manner, he says that many among the Corinthians were "weak and sickly, and not a few sleep", or were spiritually dead. .
This would indicate that a regular and proper observance of the Lord's Supper is essential to keep the Christian spiritually alive. The Supper is a constant and beautiful reminder, not only of the death and resurrection of our Lord, but of His whole life and teaching, of His new and eternal covenant with all its promises and hopes, and of His glorious and triumphant return. When people become careless about the Lord's Supper, with its opportunity for meditation and constant renewal, they begin to lose interest and soon fall away. When churches also fail to observe the Lord's Supper regularly, members are inclined to lose interest. It is not uncommon for some to feel that attending two or three times a year is sufficient. But in churches where the Lord's Supper is observed each Lord's day attendance is usually regular and interest high. Jesus is the bread of life, and when we attend the supper to which he invites us, we receive a constant renewal of life within us. For our own salvation it is important to follow the apostle's example and observe the supper every Lord's day.
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