Weekly Communion – Why?

After literally years of off and on discussion, the Session of HLPC has decided to move to weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. This was announced during this past week’s School of Discipleship as we concluded our three week study on the Lord’s Supper. The following was presented to those who were there.


Rationale for Weekly Communion


The Session of HLPC voted at its April 2015 meeting to move toward a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper in the Fall of 2015. We understand this will raise the obvious question, “Why would we decide to do this?” There are a number of good reasons to do so that we wish to enumerate for you.


First and foremost, we believe this best fits with the practice of the New Testament. In Acts 20:7 we read, On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread. Acts 2:42 says, And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. In both instances, “breaking bread” references the Lord’s Supper. In I Corinthians 11:20, the Apostle Paul says, When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. He clearly infers that the Supper is being observed whenever the church gathers. In sum, we see weekly communion as fitting the pattern in Scripture.


This does not mean that we now look upon the practice of monthly communion as necessarily wrong. The Scripture passages referred to are descriptive rather than prescriptive.   That is to say we don’t think that weekly Lord’s Supper service is mandated. We should not look down on other churches that do not observe the Lord’s Supper weekly. The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Book of Church Order, which gives us direction for church governance, says that “The Communion, or Supper of the Lord, is to be observed frequently” (58-1). By moving to weekly Lord’s Supper observance we are seeking to do that while being mindful of the Scriptures we have already referenced.


Secondly, a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper keeps us focused on our need for Christ. Jesus taught two of his followers on the road to Emmaus in one of His post-resurrection appearances that He is the centerpiece of all Scripture (Luke 24:13ff). By weekly observing the Lord’s Supper, our Sunday morning worship will always climax with the Lord’s Table. This keeps both the preacher and the congregants focused on Christ and His work every week. It also presents a natural and powerful call to faith and repentance on the part of the unbeliever every week.


Thirdly, a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper keeps us focused on our need for the Gospel. In I Corinthians Paul remarks that he did not proclaim to them the wisdom of men in lofty speech, but that he sought to proclaim nothing among them except Christ and Him crucified (I Cor. 2:1ff). As believers we need the gospel every single day. A regular communion would encourage the body to embrace the gospel afresh each week. This observance serves as a reminder for the new week, that we need the Gospel in order to flourish as believers. Even when the sermon focuses on practical obedience and exhortation, the communing member will be reminded that obedience apart from true faith alone in Christ is vain.


Fourthly, rather than cheapen, diminish, or make commonplace this sacrament, weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper could remove any harmful, mystical views of the Lord’s Supper. Quoting Dr. Alan Carter, Senior Pastor of Faith PCA in Birmingham, AL:


The Lord’s Supper is a special means of grace, but it is not a means of special grace. That is to say, there is only one grace to be received by any of the means of grace; and that grace is Christ himself. Often, when the sacrament is served, some people say or think, “Now we are coming to the most sacred or solemn part of the service.” That cannot be. We get Christ when the Word is read and proclaimed and received in faith, and we get Christ when the sacrament is received by faith. Partaking of the sacrament cannot be more sacred than the Word because the Word is primary: without it we could not make sense of the sacrament. The sacrament is the Word made visible. The Word is considered primary in our teaching and understanding; the sacrament is secondary because it depends on the Word. Word and sacrament are God’s one-two punch to beat the gospel into our lives.


Fifthly, weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper will further our experience of unity in the body of Christ. It was the lack of unity when coming to the table that occasioned Paul’s corrective in I Corinthians 11 which gives some clear instruction on how we are to come to the Lord’s Supper. Our grip of the gospel of grace must be made manifest in our relationships with others. The Lord’s Supper is, among other things, a picture of unity within the body. We are to strive for such unity and the Lord’s Supper is a God given tool in that effort.


Sixthly, we have the encouragement of the history of the church. We mistakenly identify weekly communion with Roman Catholic practice. At the time of the Reformation, only the priests received communion weekly. The people received it only once a year. The Reformation was a recovery of Biblical authority and with it a recovery of the Lord’s Supper for God’s people. In fact, John Calvin had this to say in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:


Each week, at least, the table of the Lord ought to have been spread for the company of Christians, and the promises declared on which we might then spiritually feed. No one, indeed, ought to be forced, but all ought to be exhorted and stimulated; the torpor of the sluggish, also, ought to be rebuked, that all, like persons famishing, should come to the feast. [emphasis added]


We believe that weekly Lord’s Supper observance will be a great blessing to our congregation. Our hope and prayer is that it will increase our love and zeal for Christ as we avail ourselves of this means of grace. If you have questions or comments, please direct them to one of the pastors or elders.