Posted by: celticanglican | October 20, 2007

Is Weekly Communion Excessive?

I was recently confronted by a family member with a VERY different religious background from mine about the practice of weekly communion. “I don’t want to receive communion EVERY TIME I GO TO CHURCH” From his perspective, frequent reception of communion cheapens the meaning of it. But does it? Which is more Scripturally sound, weekly or monthly/less often? Why is there such a degree of difference between the catholic traditions (Western/Eastern Rite Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran) and our protestant bretheren?

When Jesus institutes the Last Supper, He admonishes the disciples to observe the Lord’s Supper “in rememberance of Me”, without specifying how often it should be observed. However, in the Book of Acts, a surprising reference is made to the “breaking of the bread” (aka communion).

Acts 2:46And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts (AMP) Though celebrated in the context of a larger meal, this seems to imply that the disciples, at least for a time, received the sacrament daily.

Acts 20:7 And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled together to break bread [the Lord’s Supper], Paul discoursed with them, intending to leave the next morning; and he kept on with his message until midnight. (AMP) Not only does this show that the disciples reguarly met on Sundays (due to the Jewish reckoning of days, this could NOT have been Saturday night, as is often argued by Sabbatarians), but that the gathering was for the “breaking of the bread”. See also 1 Corinthians 16:2

If the practice of the disciples was to receive only monthly, quarterly, or even less often, there is no reason why this would not have been clearly indicated.

The Diadache (written during the NT era) instructs Christians on communion: On the Lord’s Day of the Lord gather together, break bread and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions.

How did less-than-weekly celebration of communion become popular? During the Middle Ages, it had become commonplace for only the priest to receive communion during the Mass, with the congregation usually receiving annually. Some of the reformers, such as Luther and Calvin, as well as several early Anglican leaders, favored a return to  weekly communion. However, others followed the beliefs of Zwingli and believed that, as a memorial meal instead of a sacrament, it should not be observed frequently.

Many protestant groups are now observing communion more frequently in light of interest in apostolic practice. Weekly or daily communion is certainly not excessive, rather, our reception of communion should be marked by a proper reverance.

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