The pastor at the church I attend made an interesting statement yesterday, as he devoted a sermon to explaining the Lord's Supper and Baptism. (Christian and Missionary Alliance).
(Loosely quoted. Ummm. No, brutally paraphrased, but I was running the projector - I could not transcribe!)
The Lord's Supper used to be centered around a meal, but the early Christians messed that up, so now we do it with wafers and little cups.
I don't know how many people agree with that history lesson, but I agree completely. I've just never heard anybody put it so succinctly, or honestly.
Does nobody else regret the loss of sharing the Lord's Supper?
Jude 1:12 TNIV
These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.
2 Peter 2:13 TNIV
They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. [Some manuscripts in their love feasts]
1 Corinthians 11:17-22 TNIV
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
1 Corinthians 11:33-34 TNIV
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Those who are hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
What does verse 33 mean, if it does not mean that we should gather together to eat the Lord's Supper as a love feast? Paul rebukes Corinth for their selfishness and greed. OK, let's not be selfish and greedy! But why stop sharing this meal of love?
If Peter and Jude both reference love feasts, and Paul here counsels that we should eat together, why can't we have feasts together to remember the Lord? The Lord Himself did not pass out wafers. The Passover was not celebrated with wafers. Wafers don't make us examine ourselves better, and the examining is not the heart of the issue. It is a preparation for eating and drinking.
1 Corinthians 11:25-26 TNIV
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
"Do this in remembrance of Me," and "proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." Neither of these things requires a somber demeanor. Examine and move on.
Jesus said He would not taste again of the fruit of the vine until He enters His kingdom. Well, He has entered His kingdom! We have entered His kingdom! When I remember the Lord, should I not remember Him as He IS, as much as I remember Him as He was? His death is glorious. His resurrection is more so!
Wine symbolizes joy (among other things), and there is cause for great joy here.
The picture of the loaf also includes the fact that we are one body. His death opened a Way for us to God, and it also opened a Way for us to each other. We are able to be one body only because of His work which we celebrate in this Supper. Hence, it is a feast of love toward the Lord, and a feast of love toward each other.
Love can embrace times of solemnity, but it has reason and just cause for great joy as well. Let us celebrate the Lord's Supper with great solemnity on occasions (like during Lent, about which I knew nothing until my blogging experience started. Here and Here.), but let it also be celebrated with joy.
Either way, let us celebrate it together, instead of facing the back of each other's heads in silence. Let the people of God proclaim the Lord's death out loud. Let us mourn together, and celebrate together. Let us share.