The Bread and the Wine
Some of my earliest memories growing up in Maplewood, New Jersey, involved going with my family to a Plymouth Brethren Chapel across town early Sunday morning. The chairs were set up around a center table. The table was covered with a white sheet, and for about forty-five minutes different men would stand and read Scripture, lead us in a hymn, or share something from Scripture. Then the service would climax with the sheet being lifted. The elders would bless the bread and then pass it around the room. Then they did the same with the cup of wine. It was simple, but it was honest, constant and heartfelt. We might not have had that great a Bible teacher on some Sunday mornings (although the traveling Brethren teachers were some of the best bible teachers I’ve ever heard), but I could count on the fact that we would remember the climax and resolution of God’s story of redemption, the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave to His disciples, ‘Take! Eat! This is my body.’ Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it them, ‘All of you, drink from it all of you! This is my blood of the covenant for you poured out for the forgiveness of sins. I will not drink from the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink with you in the Kingdom of my Father.’ Then they sang a hymn and departed for the Mount of Olives.” - Matthew 26:26-30
The Lord’s command at the Last Supper to take and eat and to take and drink reminds us not to neglect the corporate celebration of the Lord’s Table. My friend, Dr. Tony Evans, includes Communion every Sunday at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. We are under grace. So there are no hard and fast rules controlling how often we do this in remembrance of Him, but Oak Cliff’s practice continues the tradition that so powerfully impacted my heart as a child. Here, near the climax of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus declares that He will fulfill the purpose that Gabriel announced at His birth, “Call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.”
Lord, what better time to celebrate Your ceremony of remembrance-the bread and the wine-than during this Holy Week. More than two billion who claim your name will focus on your cross and resurrection, especially as we close this week and then celebrate Easter. Whether it’s low-church Brethren or high-church Anglicans, I pray that none of us will just perform cultural, traditional rituals. Help us to respond from our hearts. Thank you that Jesus commanded us not just to look back to the cross but forward to the future when He will set up His Father’s Kingdom on earth.
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