Summary: The message examines the scriptural and historical precedents for weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper.
A little girl asked her mother one Sunday morning as she was preparing lunch, “Mommy, why do you cut off the ends of the ham before you cook it?” The girl’s mother turned and looked at her and said, “Oh, sweetie, I’m not really sure why, but I suppose you cut the ends off of the meat so that the meat can better absorb the juices and spices and make it more tender. Maybe you’d better ask Grandma since she was the one I learned it from. She always did it that way.” The little girl called her grandmother later that day on the phone and asked her the same question, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends off of the ham before you cook it?” The little girl’s grandmother responded, “Oh, sweetie, I’m not really sure. I think it is so that the juices will be absorbed better. Call your Nana. She is who I learned it from.” The little girl began to get a bit frustrated with the whole idea, but decided to call her great-grandmother anyway. “Nana, mom was preparing lunch the other day and she cut the ends off of the ham before she cooked it. I asked her why and she said that she did it because the juices would absorb better, making it more tender. She told me to ask Grandma to make sure since she learned it from her. Well, I called Grandma and she said the same thing about the juices and all, but that she learned it from you and I should ask you. Nana, why do you cut the ends off of the ham before you cook it?” There was a long pause in the conversation and then the little girl heard what sounded like muffled laughter coming from the other end of the line. “What’s so funny, Nana?” “Oh, sweetie, I cut the ends off of the ham before I cooked it because my pan was too small!” Many times, we end up doing things for the wrong reasons because no one ever stopped to ask why. Every Sunday, we take a few minutes to partake of the Lord’s Supper and some don’t even know why. Why do we take the cracker and drink grape juice every Sunday.
I. Understanding weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper from a historical perspective.
A. Church history shows that for centuries Christians around the world celebrated the Lord’s Supper with great frequency.
1. Cyprian a third century leader in the church at Carthage spoke in his writings of daily participation in the Lord’s Supper.
2. Ambrose one of the most distinguished of the fourth century church fathers and a leader of the church in Rome spoke of daily observance of the Lord’s Supper.
3. Basil the most prominent leader of the church in Asia Minor during the fourth century wrote, “We commune four times a week.
4. The early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all are in agreement that the church observed the first day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord’s Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week.
5. The practice of less frequent observance of the Lord’s Supper has its roots in the medieval church and in the sixteenth century reformation, not within the early church.
B. The leaders of the Restoration movement chose to return to the practice of weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper based on the precedent they saw in Scripture.
1. During the period from 1794 through 1835, six separate groups were organized without any knowledge whatsoever of another’s existence. In all six cases, the purpose for organization by the groups was that they might restore the New Testament Church as it is found in the pages of God’s Word, the Bible.
a. In every case they settled upon the name "Christian" for their members and "Christian Church" or "Church of Christ" for their congregations.
b. Their baptism was by immersion for the remission of sins.
c. The Lord’s Supper was observed the first day of every week.
2. Alexander Campbell believed that the Lord’s Supper was a Divine Institution and noted that Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11 demonstrate that partaking of the Lord’s Supper was “the chief object of their meeting”.
3. President James A. Garfield wrote, “We observe the institution of the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day. To this table we neither invite nor debar; we say it is the Lord’s Supper for all of the Lord’s children.”
4. So in keeping with the goal of using the New Testament Church as the pattern leaders such as Campbell and Stone taught the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper.
II. In Scripture observance of the Lord’s Supper is taught by precedent.