What I don’t intend this post to be: 1) A doctrinal treatise on the practice of weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, 2) A full explanation of the Lord’s Supper, or 3) A call for all churches to make the switch to weekly communion (though as you’ll see, I don’t think that would be a bad thing). I do hope this post is thoughtful and/or helpful in promoting the weekly communion position, though, as this is a culmination of our thoughts over the last several months. Here are some of the reasons why we love weekly communion:
- It’s biblical. The early believers were devoted to “the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). They gathered weekly to “break bread” (Acts 20:7). It is understood in Paul’s treatment of the Lord’s Supper that he was addressing a church who celebrated the Supper every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 11). While it’s not explicitly commanded to observe the Lord’s Supper each week, it is more normative to celebrate it weekly than less frequently. In fact, there seems to be just as much evidence for weekly communion as there is for weekly sermons or weekly singing or weekly prayers in worship.
- The apostolic church, the ancient church, and the reformers practiced weekly communion. In fact, Rome practiced communion so infrequently that the Reformers (especially Calvin and, to a lesser degree, Luther) had a strong burden to reinstitute it weekly. Ironic that now Rome observes it weekly (or more) while Protestants practice it less frequently.
- Weekly communion promotes an increased focus on the gospel. With weekly communion believers are brought back to the basics: The atoning death and victorious resurrection of Christ.
- Weekly communion fosters more frequent repentance, a greater awareness of sin, and a deeper reliance on Christ. It also aids these aspects throughout the week, since the Lord’s Supper is always on the immediate horizon.
- The Lord’s Supper is a natural complement to the Word preached. We hear the Word preached every week, which convicts us of sin and draws us closer to Christ. Weekly communion is another way of the Word being made tangible to us. It is a visible and sensory demonstration of the gospel, assurance of Christ’s work, and union with Christ. One preacher wrote that since the Lord’s Supper is the only element of worship that appeals to all five senses, observing it weekly helps prevent over-intellectualizing of the service.
- If we rightly view the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace and a sign and seal of the covenant – in other words, the focus is on God’s acting in and through His chosen means of bread and wine and not our own pietistic memorializing of the Supper – why wouldn’t we want to observe it weekly? Communion is not a magical conferring of grace; there is nothing special about the elements themselves because it is God who works through them by faith. But as God’s means of grace, through faith He nourishes us, grows us, and strengthens us through the Supper. Just as we need frequent physical nourishment, so our faith needs frequent spiritual nourishment.
- In response to the “keep it special” arguments, we confess our sins, read and preach God’s Word, and respond to Him with praises and petitions each week. These things are special, too. It is a great privilege to be invited to eat God’s covenant meal with Him each week at his covenant table, renewing our covenant with Him.
This means of grace God has given to us is precious, solemn, and joyous; and it helps us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34). Maybe the next post on the Lord’s Supper will explain why wine is preferable to grape juice?