Modern Churches Serious Lack of Reflection Concerning the Table

Presently I find that many professed Christians will view the Lord’s Supper with either a thoughtless cavalier attitude or they will overly dramatize it and focus more on ritual, trappings and pomp. In other words people either give too little concern to these things or make a grand deal regarding the process. But how many authentically focus on the meaning behind it and how it relates to the believer beyond it being an ordinance Jesus gave his disciples and Paul wrote about it. Peter Riedemann in his Rechenschaft defined how the Hutterites would prepare for the event and how it was observed.

 When we gather to celebrate the meal of remembrance, or the Lord’s Supper, the people are encouraged and taught for two or three days beforehand. They are told clearly the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, how it is observed, and how they should prepare themselves to be worthy to receive it. Each day should include prayer and thanksgiving. When this has taken place and the Lord’s Supper has been observed, all sing a hymn of praise to the Lord. Then the people are exhorted to live in accordance with what they have just expressed. They are commended to the Lord and allowed to depart.[1]

Riedemann’s words can be broken down into three facets. The first is retrospective. His remarks begins by pointing out that the Lord’s Supper was a “remembrance”. The Lord’s Supper functions as a memorial of the Lord’s death on behalf humankind. On the night he initiated it Jesus after blessing the cup said “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:17-19).

The Hutterian’s words show a prospective aspect which likely manifested itself during the encouragement and elucidation on the “meaning of the Lord’s Supper”. Paul said “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Until he being Christ “comes” points to Jesus future activities when he returns to establish the Kingdom proper on earth as it is in Heaven.

Thirdly the quote from the Rechenschaft is introspective in nature. This required each believer to ascertain whether they was “worthy to receive it”. The “it” consisted of the supper made up of the unadorned emblems of wine and bread. Being a worthy partaker harmonizes once again with scripture.  “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:27-28).

This portion stood out to me because at present this is a derelict concept. Where do you find a body of professed believers that would take “two or three days” to ponder their quality to dine? There are numerous instances where pastors treat the Table liberally and present it unreserved to all regardless of the individuals association with the Kingdom of God. How can someone determine if they qualify to feast at the Lord’s Table if they do not have the right station to rightfully take it if they were?

In conclusion Peter Riedemann’s words stand as a case of how avowed believers should view the Lord’s Meal. It is not something that should be taken lightly or outshined by ritual. It is something that should be highly esteemed and considered sacred worthy of deep and long contemplation. It is something just anyone can partake of but only those worthy as being a member of the Body of Christ of good moral character.  I really appreciate this stand and wish that others would embrace it.

 

 

 

 

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[1] Peter Riedemann, Peter Riedemann’s Hutterite Confession of Faith: Translation of the 1565 German Edition of Confession of Our Religion, Teaching, and Faith, by the Brothers Who Are Known as the Hutterites, ed. and trans. John J. Friesen, Classics of the Radical Reformation (Waterloo, Ont.: Herald Press, 1999), 151.

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