Why do we have the Lord's Supper every week?
Every Christian church has been given the privilege of partaking of the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. Jesus made it clear, when he instituted the Supper, that it was a meal that should be continually observed by his disciples until he comes again. The bread represents his body broken for us, the wine his blood shed for us. The meal as a whole gives us a wonderful foretaste of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb that we will enjoy with Him for all eternity (Rev 21). But how often should we have it? Practice has varied among evangelical churches. Some churches only have the supper once a year, others quarterly, others monthly, and still others weekly. At Redeemer, we have chosen to celebrate the Supper every week. Why do we do this?
First, weekly communion is consistent with what we find in the New Testament and the practice of the ancient church. From Acts 2, which states that the early church “devoted itself to the apostles teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” we learn that celebrating the Lord’s Supper (the breaking of bread) was something that the believers “devoted “ themselves to with as much frequency as preaching and teaching (see also Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:17ff).
Second, and more significantly, we partake weekly because of the benefits that God promises to give us when we take the Supper. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that when we partake of the bread and wine, we are not merely remembering the death of Christ in the past, but do actually participate in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 10:16-17). As Protestants, we do not believe that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Christ, but we do believe that when we partake we are, by faith, “made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace” (WSC 96). The Supper is a gift of God’s grace that he has given to us to strengthen our faith, nurture our love, and sustain our hope. Since this is true, should we not desire to partake of the supper as frequently as possible? As one theologian has remarked: “The benefits are so numerous and so healthy that anyone who really believed that these benefits were found in the Lord’s Supper would want to observe it as frequently as possible.”
Finally, celebrating the Lord’s Supper is a fitting way to end each worship service. After God has called us into his presence, cleansed us from our sins, consecrated us to his service, he then sits down at table to commune with us, his people, before he sends us out into the world. As we eat bread and wine from the table of Christ each week, we are powerfully made aware again of the amazing truth that - despite our sins and failures - He is our God and we are his people!