Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekly Communion: Does Scripture Tell Us "How Often?"

* The second in a series on the topic of weekly communion.  Part one: The Flow of the Service.

As we consider the topic of weekly communion our first desire ought to be to hear what Scripture says.  Reformed pastor Douglas Wilson in his book Mother Kirk gives good perspective on this:

[L]et’s pretend for a moment that we have no traditions on frequency of communion to maintain (a big pretend!) and that advocates of every position share the same biblical burden of proof.  We know that we are to observe the Lord’s Supper, but how often?—daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually?  When we come to this question, we should note initially that virtually no biblical case can be made for our most common practices—monthly and quarterly.  While perhaps this is par for the course, it should at least excite some comment.

Wilson notes that annual communion could be defended on the basis of its being founded in the context of the Passover feast that was an annual feast.  However, “apostolic practice shows that they drank from that cup of blessing far more frequently than this.”  Daily communion could also find some support in that Acts 2.46 mentions how the early believers “broke bread daily.”  This daily practice seemed to quickly stabilize into a weekly observance.  Acts 20.7 speaks of the disciples being gathered on the “first day of the week” and breaking bread together.  First Corinthians 11.20-21 strongly implies that when the believers came together they participated in the Lord’s Supper.  Pastor Wilson concludes:

It is therefore fair to say that weekly communion, while not mandatory in any absolute sense, is biblically normative.  We have as much evidence for weekly communion on the Lord’s Day, for example, as we have for meeting on the Lord’s Day to do anything else.  We have more evidence for weekly communion than we have for weekly sermons, or weekly singing.  But why choose?  Why not do it all?

I want to emphasize what Wilson said: weekly communion is not mandatory.  It does, however, have biblical precedent and this should count for something!

So this day, as we partake together, let us remember that we stand in a long line of continuity with the church through the ages as we come to the Table of the Lord.  Let us rejoice together in Christ’s good gift of this sacrament to us!