I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva


with one comment

Thus far in our consideration of weekly communion we have contemplated the testimony of the Holy Spirit through the biblical theology presented in scripture. But the Holy Spirit also works through the church—teachers are a gift of the Spirit—and it is useful to consider how the Holy Spirit has worked through the church in history.

It is generally acknowledged that weekly, twice-weekly, or even daily communion were the common practice of the early church. There are some hints of this in the Bible itself which are suggestive of a high frequency of communion if not weekly communion (e.g., Acts 2:42, 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18, 20, 25). What is particularly interesting is to consider the absence of any indication that the supper could possibly be severed from ordinary corporate worship. This is so far unusual that Wes Baker writes that:

I have been unable to find evidence that any professing Christian until the Zurich Reformation (16th century), ever thought that Christians could have their regular Sunday worship without the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. I am not saying that they rigidly insisted that it never be omitted. My point is simply that they would consider such worship irregular. . . .

It was Zwingli’s liturgy that first introduced the idea that regular worship is primarily a preaching service. Up until that point, no one that I have found, ever seems to have thought that way. (The Lord’s Supper and the Weekly Assembly, unpublished manuscript)

Even by the time of Augustine, weekly communion still seems to be the general practice. In fact, Augustine urges tolerance toward churches that celebrate the supper weekly rather than daily:

There are other things, however, which are different in different places and countries: e.g., some fast on Saturday, others do not; some partake daily of the body and blood of Christ, others receive it on stated days: in some places no day passes without the sacrifice being offered; in others it is only on Saturday and the Lord’s day, or it may be only on the Lord’s day. In regard to these and all other variable observances which may be met anywhere, one is at liberty to comply with them or not as he chooses; and there is no better rule for the wise and serious Christian in this matter, than to conform to the practice which he finds prevailing in the Church to which it may be his lot to come. For such a custom, if it is clearly not contrary to the faith nor to sound morality, is to be held as a thing indifferent, and ought to be observed for the sake of fellowship with those among whom we live. (Letter 54, Section 2)

We certainly would not wish to swallow everything from the early church fathers hook, line and sinker. But it is instructive to consider that the early church lived in an environment where the Lord’s Supper was frequently celebrated.

Thus, weekly communion: because we have every reason to believe that the worship service the early church inherited from the apostles was quite plainly a Eucharistic service.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 9, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Worship

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  1. […] The worship service that the early church inherited from the apostles was a Eucharistic service […]

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