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THE LORD`S SUPPER SACRAMENT

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THELORD’S SUPPER SACRAMENT

THELORD’S SUPPER SACRAMENT

Despitenumerous of changes in the way the church expresses its faith, thereis an almost universal and constant feature of Christian worshipacross different nations and cultures: the communal celebration ofthe Holy Communion. The historical basis of the Holy Communion istraceable from the New Testament’s book of I Cor. 11:20, which wasPaul’s first epistle to the Corinthians in the first century C.E1.The Corinthians had a communal supper, which used to transpire everySunday evening. According to Paul, the meal was meant to do more thanjust satisfy the hunger of the participants it was meant to unifythe congregation2.The harmony emanated from the participants’ drinking and eating ofbread, and in doing this, they became one with the body of Christ3.The sacramental acknowledgment of the meal was articulated in thesanctifications with which the meal was instigated.

Asstated by I Cor.1:14, the participants would assemble in the privatehouse of a well-off member of the community, where the foodstuffbrought by the well-to-do participants would equally be consumed bythe have-nots. Sometimes, the participants would congregate in rentedhalls for the communal meal. The main intention of sharing the mealwas to create fellowship, solidarity, and brotherhood among salves,freemen, Gentiles, and Jews4.By organizing a communal meal, Paul was hoping to correct theCorinthian tradition of people not sharing their food with the lessfortunate. Instead, the participants would consume what they broughtwith them because each had taken “their own supper.” The rich inthe society continued to eat more as the needy ate less. The outcomeof this flawed system was that societal inequity spread like a forestfire, giving rise to divisions within members of the Corinthcommunity5.The Corinthians knew for a fact, that the Lord’s Supper wasintended to generate unity of the church and its community withChrist but they were not familiar with Paul’s idea that the wineand bread represented the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Paulclarified to the Corinthians that Jesus instituted the Lord’sSupper to act as a unifying factor intended to mend broken ties byfacilitating the realization of the communion6.

TheLord’s scheduling of the Holy Communion was at the significantnight of the Passover. The Passover was a festival commemoratingGod’s liberation of His people from the unkind hands of Pharaoh inEgypt7.Additionally, it described the manner in which God saved the firstborn sons of the Israelites as the angel of death was passing overhouseholds slaying first born sons8.In every household, a lamb was slaughtered and its blood sprinkled onthe doorposts. As the angel of death was going door to door executingits evil feat, it would see the blood on the marked doors and passover.The blood of the lamb was the medium of redemption for the first bornsons. It is through this blood that God liberated the children ofIsrael. The Passover was God’s last plague, sent to convincePharaoh to let the Israelites go (Exodus 12-13)9.

Inthe book of Matt. 26:26-35, it is written that the Lord’s trueblood and body are present in the people who eat the sacrament10.Jesus’ sacrifice on the hill of Golgotha to save mankind from theirsins was the ultimate sacrifice. In His atonement, the Lord “pouredout” His blood and “gave out” His body on the cross to savemankind from their transgressions (Luke 22:20 Matt. 26:28)11.In accordance to the book of Luke 22:19, after Jesus died, Hepresented His blood and body in the form of bread and wine as thedivine means of indicating the forgiveness of the transgressions ofmankind. By presenting His blood and body in the sacrament, the Lordbestowed all the benefits and blessings of His atonement (Heb.9:14-16)12.Therefore, the Holy Communion is a constant reminder of Jesus Christ,who was literally “broken” for mankind. The Holy Communion is acommemoration of the earthly life of the Son of God and Hissacrificial death. In the books of Mark 14:25 and Matt. 26:29, Paullinked the institution of the Lord’s Supper to the coming ofChrist. As indicated in the books of Matthew and Mark, Jesusestablished the Passover as a commemoration of the Lord’s newcovenant of calling people back to the centralities of their faith inGod13.

Accordingto 1 Cor. 11:23-27, the church must follow the guidance of the Lordin speaking the words of institution (verba) over the elements of theHoly Communion14.In 1 Cor. 14:24-27, it is written that before a pastor distributesthe wine and bread as the sacramental body and blood of the Lord, heor she should first pronounce the Words of Institution. Hence, it isunfitting for a pastor to distribute the sacrament withoutpronouncing the verbafirst. As the celebrant consecrates the elements from the altar, heor she should not hurry through the verba (Mark 14:22-27)15.The elements in this case are the bread, the wine, and thepost-communion reverence. In Mark 14:12, and Matt. 26:17, it isclearly indicated that unleavenedbreadwas used in the Passover which explains why unleavened bread isstrictly used in present-day practice of Christianity16.Since the Bible did not specify the exact source of bread, it may beprepared from barley, wheat, or other grains. The consumption ofunleavened bread indicated the haste in which the Israelites leftEgypt in a rash so they could not wait for the bread to rise afterPharaoh’s merciless decree17.Nonetheless, some scholars argue that the Passover and the feast ofthe unleavened bread were two separate festivals that were joinedtogether.

Thebooks of Matt. 26:29 and 1 Cor. 11:21 speak of “the cup,” whosecontent was wine. These books suggest that the wine was “fromfruits the grape vines.” Upholding this tradition, contemporarychurches mostly use wine prepared from grape fruits in practicebecause the wine drank in the Lord’s Supper was prepared fromsimilar fruits18.However, the color, origin, and type of grape wine are not limited byvirtue of the fact that there are no Biblical scriptures making thesespecifications. Once the communing process is over, the elements thatremain are treated with reverence19.First, the wine and consecrated bread can be returned to specificcontainers for future use by the elder’s guild20.This is mostly done on wine in practice because bread cannot bepreserved until the next Passover. Second, the pastor can burn thebread and pour the wine on the ground. Third, the team of elders canconsume the remaining sacrament for so long as they do not becomeinebriated beyond comprehension21.Nonetheless, not many churches practice this because it is oftenmisconstrued for disparaging the church and what it stands for.Basically, this is the practical basis of the Lord’s Supper in thecontemporary society.

Althoughthere have been myriads of changes in the way in which the churchproclaims its faith, the celebration of the Holy Communion hasremained to be one of the most common feature across differentChristian nations and cultures. The early history of the Lord’sSupper can be traced to Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians inthe first century C.E. As this paper has exemplified, Paul was tryingto bring societal changes in Corinth by explaining to the Corinthiansthe significance of the Lord’s Supper. His plan was successful,which explains why the contemporary community of Christians stillpractices the Holy Communion Sacraments. Undoubtedly, the HolyCommunion is a Christian tradition that began millions of years agoand certainly doesn’t show signs of annulment in the future.

Bibliography

Byars,Ronald P. TheSacraments in Biblical Perspective: Interpretation: Resources for theUse of Scripture in the Church.Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

Humphreys,Colin J. &quotThe Problem of the Last Supper.&quot TheMystery of the Last Supper,2015, 26-38. Accessed November 24, 2016.doi:10.1017/cbo9780511973871.004.

Kim,Bradley. &quotThe Communion in the Holy Spirit.&quot Journalof Theology33 (2015): 167. Accessed November 24, 2016.doi:10.18804/jyt.2015.06.33.167.

Nicholas,Lucy R. &quotRoger Ascham`sDefence of the Lord`s Supper.&quotReformation20, no. 1 (2015): 26-61. Accessed November 24, 2016.doi:10.1179/1357417515z.00000000035.

Richardson,K.c. &quotThe Lord`s Supper As A Sacrament in The History of TheStone-Campbell Movement.&quot February 2016. Accessed November 24,2016. doi:10.2986/tren.062-0072.

Scott,Elizabeth. &quotThe Lord`s Supper In The Early Church.&quot TheEarliest History of the Christian Gathering,June 2013, 103-46. Accessed November 24, 2016.doi:10.1163/ej.9789004183094.i-342.22.

Smith,Tommy. &quotLast Supper and Passover.&quot AScriptural Theology of Eucharistic Blessings,November 18, 2014, 21-28. Accessed November 24, 2016.doi:10.5040/9781472550248.ch-002.

Tennent,T. Alex. TheMessianic Feast: Moving Beyond the Ritual.Minneapolis: Messianic Publishing LLC, 2014.

1 Scott, Elizabeth. &quotThe Lord`s Supper In The Early Church.&quot The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering, June 2013, 107.

2 Ibid

3 Nicholas, Lucy R. &quotRoger Ascham`sDefence of the Lord`s Supper.&quot Reformation 20, no. 1 (2015): 26-61.

4 Richardson, K.c. &quotThe Lord`s Supper As A Sacrament in The History of The Stone-Campbell Movement.&quot February 2016.

5 Smith, Tommy. &quotLast Supper and Passover.&quot A Scriptural Theology of Eucharistic Blessings,

November 18, 2014, 21

6 Scott, Elizabeth. &quotThe Lord`s Supper In The Early Church.&quot The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering, June 2013, 106.

7 Byars, Ronald P. The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective: Interpretation: Resources for the

Use of Scripture in the Church. Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

8 Kim, Bradley. &quotThe Communion in the Holy Spirit.&quot Journal of Theology 33 (2015): 167.

9 Byars, Ronald P. The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective: Interpretation: Resources for the

Use of Scripture in the Church. Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

10 Ibid

11 Ibid

12 Tennent, T. Alex. The Messianic Feast: Moving Beyond the Ritual. Minneapolis: Messianic

Publishing LLC, 2014.

13 Ibid

14 Humphreys, Colin J. &quotThe Problem of the Last Supper.&quot The Mystery of the Last Supper, 2015, 26-38.

15Ibid

16 Byars, Ronald P. The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective: Interpretation: Resources for the

Use of Scripture in the Church. Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

17 Ibid

18 Humphreys, Colin J. &quotThe Problem of the Last Supper.&quot The Mystery of the Last Supper, 2015, 31.

19 Smith, Tommy. &quotLast Supper and Passover.&quot A Scriptural Theology of Eucharistic Blessings,

November 18, 2014, 21

20 Ibid

21 Kim, Bradley. &quotThe Communion in the Holy Spirit.&quot Journal of Theology 33 (2015): 167.