Sunday Night Communion
While I have never opposed the Lord's Day evening communion, there are certain aspects of the practice that neither brother Dixon nor Needham discussed in their exchange in this paper. Since their articles stimulated thought on this subject, I would like to put forth some questions on the practice of having communion in the evening after it has been observed by the church in the morning. I would appreciate someone more erudite than I discussing them as these questions have arisen without satisfactory answers.
Is the communion an individual matter? That is, can one person break bread without other Christians breaking with him? Paul speaks of the Lord's Supper as being eaten when the church assembles together in one place (I Cor. 11:20). Does this restrict the Lord's Supper to the assembly? I have taught that it did and thus have not sought to carry the Lord's Supper to the sick who were unable to assemble. Would an individual be required to break bread if by chance (not choice) he should be far removed from other Christians on the Lord's Day? In regards to Sunday evening, it often happens in small congregations that only one person is present who has not broken bread. Can one person eat the communion alone? If only one can eat in the assembly, why not at home without bothering to go to the assembly since he will be the only one there who will commune? He will not be breaking bread with his brethren as they have done so earlier.
Since it is almost impossible to set a time when every member can be present, why not have everyone "break bread" at his own choice of time? Such allowance would destroy the assembly. Yet, we allow this when we permit one or a few to break bread after the rest of the church have already communed.
If the church sets a time to assemble to break bread, are those who cannot attend responsible? Does God hold them guilty if they are unable to attend? Let us suppose, as is often the case, the church has only one assembly on the Lord's Day. What of those who were unable to be present? Does the church have the authority to schedule more than one assembly for the purpose of breaking Bread? Notice, I asked, for the purpose of breaking bread. Would a church be in error if it eliminated the communion on Sunday night although it met for worship? Must additional assemblies be scheduled so that everyone can make at least one? This is easily done when the Lord's Supper is looked upon as a mass.
Doesn't the practice of many churches actually make the Lord's Supper in the evening sort of a "left over?" In the morning before the giving of thanks there will most often be a song, a reading and/or a short talk. In the evening there is usually a short prayer and a quick serve. If we don't look upon communion on Sunday night as a "second supper," we ought to stop treating it like one.
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 7, p. 20 April 1966