When the early church gathered for worship, the focus was not a band or a sermon from a pastor. There was certainly singing voices and teaching Scriptures, but the climax was a celebratory meal of remembrance, an Agape Feast. The Eucharist was the reason they gathered, the center of their worship and the reason for their hope.
Then somewhere along the way, mainly in the past 50 years, a growing branch of the American evangelical church decided the Lord’s Supper could be relegated to a monthly or quarterly afterthought. No one was being heretical or insensitive, but the focus of our gathering was certainly changing. This was the tradition in which I was raised.
We have decided at New Life to bring it back to the center of our worship, to return our attention to the mystery of Christ’s body and blood. Starting this Sunday, and on most Sundays thereafter, communion will be the highlight of our gathering. We will gather to sing and I will still teach the Scriptures, but there will be a time in each gathering where we pause, pray and celebrate the sacred.
Some Sundays, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper while we sing and on other Sundays we will respond to the teaching of the Scriptures by ending our gathering with communion. Regardless of when it happens, it will certainly be the underscore and the emphasis of our time together.
In a world where absolute truth and sound theology are under attack, I believe, for us at New Life, we are being centered again on a foundational stone and are returning to the mysteries that call us to a deeper place of worship. For us, communion is the bridge between a miraculous, resurrected past, a hopeful present and a prophetic future.
September 3, 2012 at 8:35 am
One of my absolute favorite times of worship is when we are able to look into the eyes of each person as we serve them the elements and speak a blessing over them…to let them know someone actually SEES them is precious.
September 3, 2012 at 9:20 am
I believe communion is indeed sacred, and it is crucial that we have it. My only concern is that it becomes ritual if we do it every service and that it may lose its sacredness and holiness, especially to unbelievers. I’ll leave that concern to God, though.
September 3, 2012 at 11:36 am
I am not a member of New Life yet I am incredibly excited about this decision! “The Table” should indeed be central to the gathered church experience and your theology and reasoning behind this decision are spot on!
Many blessings to New Life and you take a step into the sacred!
I blogged my thoughts about this on my website at the link below.
September 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm
I most certainly agree with you. Our fellowship has gone to quarterly, but I take it at home almost daily. Since we are now a kingdom of priests, I feel qualified. I look at it from the covenant perspective and reaffirm my life and my love to the covenant. Then I focus on each persona of the Trinity and their part in the covenant. My focus is on the brokeness of His body and the torture. Death was surely a blessing after all the extreme torture and mockery He endured for us. Then I focus on the power of His blood and the authority He has given us by the shedding of His blood. Daily communion also helps to look iinside ourselves and see if we have hurt anyone or if their is anyone who has hurt us that needs our forgiveness. I truly believe that I am healthy because of communing at the Lord’s table daily. So I truly appreciate what you are doing in your fellowship. One day I was focusing on what pain He went thru and this thought came to me. Seeing His mother and the pain she was going thru had to be excruciating for Him. I do not pray to her or exalt her, but the pain she had to endure watching her son go thru that had to be almost unbearable. I definitely don’t think communion should be ritualistic in a church service, but it is up to the individual receiving it to make it personal in dialoging with the Lord. Just my thoughts.
September 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm
Hi Pastor Brady, I applaud this decision wholeheartedly. The ground is level at the cross and this is indeed a sacred moment to remember the body and the blood, and the new covenant that Jesus established. For me I personally have relived Holy Week every week. since Dean’s death. With our families last supper on Thurs. night, (Thanksgiving night,) and then his death on Friday, I simply cannot go a week without reliving the death and resurrection of My LORD and Savior, something I am more aware of because of our journey as a family. I too have partaken of communion frequently here alone, but Jesus introduced it in community form, and so I look forward to sharing this with my church family remembering the last supper, the cross, and Glory to God, The Resurrection. Thankyou…..
September 4, 2012 at 6:39 am
I am so proud of NLC and the leadership there! You are setting a great example for other churches to follow. After being a member at NLC for 5 years, we recently moved and I pray that we’ll find a church that is as intentional about Worship and teaches Biblical and relevant lessons.
September 4, 2012 at 8:30 am
I do not belong to New Life Church, but it is my feeling that Christ and his Atonement should ALWAYS be the center of anything done in the church, and, for that matter, in our lives.
September 4, 2012 at 11:13 am
September 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm
September 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm
I too was raised in a quarterly tradition of communion. And as a confession I always looked forward to helping my dad “empty” the leftover grape juice after the service. 🙂
Thank you for the change to weekly communion as I’ve experienced little else so able to disturb me from a place of spiritual hardness. Communion provokes in me worshipful anticipation or else a grudging realization that I won’t be able to sit in a place of self imposed distance from God. I am forced to do the necessary business of repentence. Either way it’s good.
On topic of the sacred, I found it powerful to recite the creedal statements as a church body when Glenn was pastoring the Sunday evening service.
There was a strong and significant link to all those who have gone before, and to all those currently on earth who share our faith and hope in Jesus. Reciting truth statements about the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit in a community of believers is powerful and often brought me to tears. A surprising reaction when I consider the tradition of faith I was raised in.