Wednesday, September 8, 2010

So what’s it about?

Starting September 19, Lisa and I plan on hosting in our home, for seven consecutive Sundays, a Lord's Supper Fellowship Celebration. Over the years many people have accepted invitations to eat at Lisa's table. She has a well-deserved reputation as a great cook. After these dinners we have enjoyed fellowship with our Christian friends. Our plans for the Lord's Supper Fellowship Celebration are much the same. Come together, have a meal, celebrate the common bond we have in Jesus Christ.

There will be a couple differences from dinners we've hosted in the past.

First, we will also serve the elements of the Lord's Supper, bread and wine, for those who want to participate. We have not done this at previous dinners because invitations were specific to certain families. According to Paul (1 Corinthians 10:17) one purpose of the Lord's Supper is recognizing our unity. Having an exclusive guest list is not an ideal way to build unity. In fact, Paul rebuked the Corinthian believers because each ate his own dinner leaving some to go hungry while others over indulged. Paul's complaint with the Corinthians was that some were "approved" while others were not (1 Corinthians 11:17-19). Ignore the awful translation from the NIV here. They were not approved by God – the word "God" appears nowhere near here in the Greek. The so-called "approved" were causing division; consequently, Paul would not praise them for their observance of the tradition he had otherwise taught them.

Paul's instructions to the Corinthians can be confusing, and if you understand them differently than I do, you're still invited for dinner. Some people assume that Paul restricted the Lord's Supper to a tiny cracker and a sip of wine. Nevertheless, he did not specify exact portion control. Paul told the Corinthians that when they came together to eat, to "wait for one another." The words translated "wait for one another" can also mean "look out for one another." He then says, that if anyone is hungry let him eat at home. Paul wasn't putting the kibosh on a full meal. The meal was an Apostolic tradition (Acts 2:42, Acts 20:7-12). In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul was telling the Corinthians not to be divisive, to look out for one another, and also to discern the body of the Lord. In light of 1 Corinthians 10:17, the body of the Lord which we are supposed to discern, is actually the assembly of believers! In the context, the phrases "look out for one another" and "discern the body of the Lord" have parallel meanings. Someone who eats his own dinner while a hungry brother eats nothing cannot be discerning the body of the Lord, can he?

The instructions regarding the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 dealt with unity in fellowship. The fellowship in the New Testament church wasn't ethereal. The fellowship they shared was tangible. In Acts 20, the Ephesians' fellowship went past midnight to daybreak. They even had a post-midnight meal after witnessing Eutychus' resurrection from the dead. I don't expect anything that exciting, but we're not planning a fixed end time just in case.

Some might wonder if the Lord's Supper isn't something that is supposed to be done in a church building. Well, no. Nothing in the New Testament says anything about partaking of the Lord's Supper only in a church building. Nor does Scripture tell us that the Lord's Supper must be administered by someone who is "approved." In fact, Christian sects have undermined the purpose of the Lord's Supper by creating such things as the Anglican Communion or the Roman Catholic Communion. The communion celebrated in church buildings often celebrates disunity or sectarianism. It isn't the Lord's Supper if it divides us along sectarian boundaries. If Communion is administered by those who are "approved," it further establishes division even within the sect.

Paul doesn't say where or when to celebrate the Lord's Supper, but he does say, "As often as you should eat this bread, and should drink this cup, you announce the Lord's death until he comes." "As often" sounds like implicit permission to me. Together we can fellowship in the memory of Jesus' death and celebrate His promised coming again "as often" as we like.

The second difference between the Lord's Supper Fellowship Celebration and other dinners Lisa and I have hosted is already alluded to. The invitation list is pretty wide open. If somehow you don't feel invited, talk to me. If you come, I'm hoping, but can't guarantee, that you meet a brother or sister you didn't previously know. If you think we're off the wall crazy, come anyway. The purpose is to establish unity in Jesus Christ, not to divide according to insignificant church traditions.

We've asked participants to read 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 because Paul gives instructions about how to meet together. He begins saying, "What is it then brethren? Whenever you should come together . . ." Paul isn't offering suggestions, he is emphatic. He says, "If any thinks to be a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize what I write to you that they are commandments of the Lord." If you want to know the Lord's commands for whenever Christians assemble together, you can read and interpret 1 Corinthians yourself.

In the mean time, if you're wondering if we Ramsey's are getting in over our heads, the answer is, "Always. Come and join us."

By the way, the Bible quotations in this post are taken from the Apostolic Bible. If you don't know what that is, come to dinner on the 19th, and you can look at my copy.

As always, RSVP's are greatly appreciated by the cook.

1 comment:

  1. If communion is not sectarian, what does it mean to be "excommunicated"?