At CCA, we place high value on the Lord’s Supper (also, referred to as Communion, the Remembrance Meeting and Breaking of Bread). On the one hand, Communion, like baptism, is an ordinance – directly required by Jesus of his followers. On the other hand, there is a voluntary aspect to it, shown in the words “as often as you do this” (I Corinthians 11:26).
Like a loving parent, our God wants our love, but doesn’t demand it. He longs for us to be responsive to Him in the special way He requests. Communion is His “love language” – our spoken love and admiration to Him. CCA’s roots in the Brethren Movement have given us the legacy of a one hour open-style meeting where the Holy Spirit can lead us in beautiful ways to worship the Lord Jesus. But what is needed? Following are some Biblical principles; also included are some suggestions that may help you.
Worship is much richer when you prepare for it. Ideally, the Communion Service is simply an overflow from our devotional life throughout the week – (i.e. one week’s preparation). Furthermore, Hebrews 13:15 says we should “offer a sacrifice of praise to God.” Coming to the Lord’s Table with a poem, song, answer to prayer, meditation, etc. (whether shared audibly or offered in silence) is appropriate and biblical (I Corinthians 14:26). Finally, preparation includes the very healthy self-examination called for in I Corinthians 11:28. I should ask myself: “Is there unconfessed sin in my life? Are there people in the room with whom I have unresolved conflict?” At CCA, we ask, and expect, each communicant to examine himself/herself before partaking of the bread and wine.
Those who go to bed earlier Saturday night will be able to give their best time to their best friend. The Old Testament Sabbath is an instructive pattern. It ran from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday. What might change if we began our day of worship the night before? Also, what would be different of we arrived at the meeting a few minutes early, rather than so breathless and frustrated from hurrying that we lose the first fifteen minutes just getting calm?
An Open Table
AT CCA we do not use “membership” or other criteria for taking Communion. Anyone who knows and loves the Lord is welcome to take the bread and the wine. We simply ask people to examine themselves and then take part. Children may participate at the discretion of their parents. Some parents may want their children to wait until they have been baptized. This is a legitimate benchmark and one used early in church history.
About 50 minutes of this hour is not pre-planned. In the first 10 minutes, however, someone selected by the ‘announcing Elder’ for that month will give out one or two songs and lead in a brief devotional thought. Often, but not always, that thought becomes the theme for the meeting. No one is bound to follow a theme since the real theme is Jesus himself: “Do this in remembrance of me.” (I Corinthians 11:25)
Although Brethren Assemblies differ on this next point, here at CCA we believe that women can pray, read scripture, and share testimonies at this meeting if they wear a head covering (I Corinthians 11:5).
Some Specific Guidelines
- If you share a thought, try to do so in less than 5 minutes. Two or three minutes are best. This allows wider participation.
- Remember to talk to God, as well as about Him. Heartfelt prayers lead people right into the presence of God.
- Strike a balance between what Jesus means biblically and what He does for you personally. Experience is fresh but should bring attention to the Lord, not self. Comments that are purely biblical can seem cold and academic.
- Realize that the Lord’s Supper will always focus on his death at some point, but there is a wider focus on the words: “Remember me.” Ignoring details of the crucifixion would be wrong. Focusing on them too much would be morbid. This meeting is a celebration, not a funeral.
- Occasionally, at the end of a meeting, someone may exhort us to live holy lives, love our brothers and sisters, or to share the Gospel with others. This is appropriate after we focus on Jesus. The Communion Service is not a place to preach at people, or to open a “can of theological worms.” It is also not a place to correct others. If clarification/correction is needed, it should be done by an Elder- usually after the meeting is over.
- Please speak up so all can hear! If you announce a song, repeat the title and number twice. If you tend to be soft spoken, try to sit or step to a central location and face the largest portion of the congregation. If you are hard of hearing, please sit towards the center and front of the sanctuary. Finally, please follow the courtesy of reserving the back rows for parents with small children.
- Be sensitive to ‘the time.’ As a rule, we should begin passing the bread and wine no later than 10:15 AM. People will be much less focused (especially if they teach Sunday School or serve on a worship team) if you push the meeting overtime.
These guidelines are meant to enhance, not restrict. The Communion services can, and should be, a highlight of our week.
“In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for everymore.” Psalm 16:11