I’m confident that 90 percent of my Lord’s Supper experiences as a child and youth were positive ones. Based on the family I grew up in, the folks in our local church, and the men who served us as pastors, it could hardly have been otherwise.
Why is it, then, that I find it easier to recall less positive specifics about this annual CoG7 event in the earlier years? For example:
- Arguing with a dear brother over which came first in the Lord’s Supper service: the emblems or the foot washing.
- Debating a SDA friend in our home on whether the supper should be quarterly or only once a year.
- Hearing more detail about Hebrew Passover from Exodus 12 at Lord’s Supper time than about Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples from the Gospels.
- Hearing a lengthy explanation, illustrated on chalkboard, about why the fourteenth of Nisan, not the fifteenth, was the right day for Lord’s Supper.
- Hearing a member express regrets that a dear Church minister-friend would be lost for keeping Lord’s Supper on the fifteenth and not the fourteenth.
In the late 1980s, our Ministerial Council studied the whole topic afresh, in the greater light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That study, plus the time for growth in grace and knowledge since, brought many of us to a less confrontational, more peaceable approach to communion than we had known or practiced. I now see the Lord’s Supper as a blessing to receive and share, not a battleground to win. I still find it more meaningful in the season of Christ’s death and resurrection, but I don’t want to limit it to a single day that nobody knows for certain.
May each of us experience the freedom and joy of affirming, as our current teachings do, that the Lord’s Supper is a distinctly new covenant ordinance, not an old covenant festival; that it is centered on the work and words of Christ, not of Moses; and that we extend charity toward those who observe communion at other times and with other sequence and detail than we do.
May our 2018 Lord’s Supper service be positively remembered all year, for the love of Him who said, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, KJV).
Calvin Burrell, former editor of the Bible Advocate, lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR.