Celebrating the Lord’s Supper in 2020
While it is not mandated that the Lord's Supper be given at every church service, it is still a vital element of Christian worship, whether it is celebrated weekly, monthly, or yearly. Here at Truth Point Church, we have enjoyed this feast to remember the work of Jesus and our union with him together every week that we gather together. As has often been said from our pulpit, we need to remember the Gospel every week because every week we forget the Gospel.
Lately, however, our normal rhythms and routines have been interrupted as churches across the country and in the whole world have had to shut down altogether or transition from meeting physically to meeting virtually. In all of the upheaval, church leaders and members have had to reexamine how we handle all of the basic elements of a church service, Communion included. It's clear that the Lord's Supper is important, but there seems to be no model for how to administer it during a global pandemic. As a result, many churches have come to varying conclusions on how to go forward as leaders have searched the Scriptures and prayerfully considered how to best shepherd their flocks. In keeping with Paul's repeated words in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (vs. 17,18,20,33, and 34) “when you come together”, and the requirement in our denominational guidelines (The Westminster Standards) that pastors administer communion to those who are present, we believe the best practice is to observe the Lord's Supper corporately as the church gathered, and not virtually online, as some churches have opted (we say this without negative judgment toward them). While it is true that we are indeed a church scattered today, this is not the ideal situation nor is it the Biblical model. The very Greek word,Ecclesia, from which we derive our word Church, means assembly. As such, we ought rightly to long for the day that we can once again gather as a body, assembled all together, not limited in number by outside circumstances, regulations, or recommendations.
So, starting August 2, TPC will begin once again to administer the Lord's Supper to the congregation at the close of our services. Desiring to be sensitive to our members and viewers watching from home, we will conclude the service, turn off the cameras, and distribute the elements in hermetically sealed, single serve containers only to those present at the Rosarian. While we are aware that this solution will not be satisfying to all members, we do feel that this is the best way forward during this time, given our circumstances. We invite all who feel comfortable gathering corporately (keeping in mind that all social distancing recommendations are being followed) to sign up and join us as we gather in the presence of our King to worship and praise Him to the glory of His matchless grace.
Why is communion important? Recently, while watching the film,Spirit and Truth,by Les Lanphere, I was struck by the beautiful simplicity of the essential elements of an authentic Christian worship service. Thereon the screen was presented an image of a Bible, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of wine. That was it. Everything one needs for a meaningful Church service was therein contained. For from the Bible are provided the Scriptures to be read and taught, patterns for prayer, and if one is inclined to sing the Psalms as some do, songs to be sung. Besides that, all that is needed is the bread and wine for the Lord's Supper.
The Lord's Supper is essential because it is one of the two sacraments of the Church which were instituted by Christ himself, this one on the night that he was betrayed: “Now as they were eating,, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom” (Matthew26:26-28;Mark14:22-24;Luke22:19-20;1 Cor.11:24-25).
The purpose and benefits of this meal are many. The Westminster Confession of Faith states at least five in paragraph 1 of the 29th chapter: “Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord's Supper, to be observed by his Church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits there of unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.”
This sacrament is a both a sign and a seal of the covenant of grace, it represents Christ and all of his benefits to us, it confirms our interest in him,and in it we visibly demonstrate our dependence on Christ and unity within the church." John Calvin teaches that in the institution of the Lord's Supper, Christ gives us a promise on which faith is to rely, in which to find comfort, and from which to draw strength. He says, “Our souls can take and derive from this sacrament much sweetness and fruit of consolation, by which we understand that Jesus Christ is so incorporated into us and we into him that we can call ours all that is his,and his all that is ours” (Institutes, Banner of Truth 1541 ed.pg. 623). The more we contemplate these things, the more we understand that the importance of the Lord's Supper just can't be overstated.
"The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith", 1 Timothy 1:5