Tuesday, April 11, 2006


One of the staples of the church of Christ faith has been its observance of the Eucharist. Every Sunday, Christians in the church of Christ brotherhood break bread (or Matzo, pie crust or some other unleavened treat) and take a sip from a small cup (each has their own, typically). The elements are also brought to those not sitting in the sanctuary, so they can partake (nursery, bouncers, etc.) If one is unable to attend on Sunday, usually an opportunity is provided to take it on Sunday night.

The emphasis is typically placed on the day that it is taken, not on the reason WHY it is taken. This is, in a word, bad.

While reading a blog post on Evotional.com I had a realization.

Celebrating communion is something that we should do as often as possible, maybe everytime we come together. However, I don't know if it is necessary or best-used as a part of the corporate worship service. Very rarely is the focus of the service on communion. It's usally done as quickly as possible with cursory devotional to "prepare our minds" for what we're about to do. (A quick aside: when I was in high school, my fellow tray passers and I would draw up "plays" for the passing out the trays. We would figure out the most efficient way to pass out trays. It was pretty awesome.)

I think we've missed the point.

The early church came together to break bread. (Acts 20:7) This verse has been used to argue that communion can ONLY be taken on the first day of the week. However, the emphasis of that verse has been distorted. Rather than arguing for a certain day to partake in the bread, the verse "argues" for the purpose of coming together. How many of our churches come together to "break bread?" If an unbiased outsider were to visit our church and we asked them why they thought we were meeting, would they say to take communion? Probably not.

We need to be intentional about taking communion. We need to pay attention to what we're doing and why we're doing it. I have no problem with traditions as long as they serve a purpose. I fear that our every Sunday tradition has lost its purpose.

Churches that take communion every Sunday without being intentional are no more "right" than a church that takes it sporadically. Let's stop missing the point.


Casey Neese said...

Well, Todd, I finally got around to looking at your blog. I'm glad I did. If I start a blog I don't think I can be so deep, though.

I agree...we need to keep things in perspective and remember that communion is one of the main reasons we come together as Christians. Some of the most meaningful communion services I have been a part of have been away from a church building: on a mountain top, around my grandfather's hospital bed when he was too sick to go to worship away from home. Thanks for your thought-provking post.

By the way...I noticed that the photo of unleavened bread includes a jar of horseradish. What's that about? Are you trying to spice things up a little?

Sharon said...

One of the things I love about the Alpha course is the idea of coming together to share a meal. While I have some issues with the pre-fab sermons, I LOVE the meal part of the program. Having experienced it, I can testify to the incredible power of simply sitting down and sharing a meal with a group of people every week. There are very few ways that are more effective in building community. I think in many ways, that's what the idea of breaking bread was supposed to be.