Communion Traditions

Duane Crim
Mitchell, Indiana

There are a few problems that arise in the Lord's church in connection with the serving of the communion. The Bible throws a light on the human traditions that have caused churches to divide and members to be lost.

Everyone is familiar with the one cup problem. The Bible is the answer and example. To read one cup or container into Luke 22:17 causes a problem. The Lord Jesus took the cup, gave thanks and said, ". . . divide it among yourselves." It was the fruit of the vine to be divided, for verse 18 calls it such. Judas has left the twelve apostles back in verse 3 and 4, so this left the eleven plus Christ. They divided it among themselves and therefore had individual containers. Where is the passage(s) that limits the container to only one for all? Those who demand this and split the assembly have not studied Luke's account. (Some who teach this use two cups; one for each side).

Another tradition and problem is to make sure the one who "heads" the table breaks the bread after the prayer. The scripture teaches us Christ broke the bread after the prayer so, therefore, we must do it. Is this the only way this can be done? Luke 22:19 tells us he took the bread, gave thanks, and gave it to them. Verse 20 says, "Likewise he took the cup . . ." He had divided the fruit of the vine so, likewise, he divided the bread. He "broke" the cup and he broke the bread. For what reason? Each one was to have both. 1 Cor. 10: 16 says WE are to break bread just like WE are to give thanks (bless) for the fruit of the vine. Can the "head." of the table do this for us? Not according to I Cor. 10: 16. It does not bother me or can I see anything wrong in breaking the bread at the table for I, too, break off a piece. The wrong comes when it is expected or demanded by those whose minds and eyes are on the "physical" breaking and not the spiritual breaking.

Another tradition is the prayer given for the bread and the fruit of the vine. I would like to pose a question for study: Is this the time to thank God for all blessings, sunshine and harvest, forgiveness of sins, kings, country, etc; or should we keep our minds on this part of the service and give thanks (bless) for it?

Other questions to be studied in connection with communion are: How should those who serve dress? Should they chew gum? Who should say the prayer? How many times should communion be offered on the first day? Does the bread and fruit of the vine become the actual body and blood of Christ after prayer? Should both prayers be said and then pass the emblems simultaneously? And, should the leftover bread and fruit of the vine be buried (in the ground)?

Just recently I've had to use the Bible to answer some of these questions, so I know they are not silly questions, but come from sincere people. Can you answer them?

We cannot be blinded by human tradition from the light of the scripture; therefore, I present these questions and study for your perusal in the light of the scripture.

June 1967