While the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper is not common in Protestant churches, we at Arlington Presbyterian believe it to be the biblical and preferred practice for the following reasons:
THE PRACTICE OF THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH
Although we do not have any clear-cut command, the New Testament evidence does seem to point in the direction of weekly communion, especially if one understands “the breaking of bread” to be a reference to the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-20; cf. 14:26).
EVIDENCE FROM CHURCH HISTORY
There are very clear and early (second century) allusions to the practice in the Didache and Justin Martyr’s The First Apology. While the history of the Church does not have the authority of God’s Word, it at least ought to interest us that the Christian community observed this practice, apparently without much discussion, so shortly after the time of the Apostles.
CONSISTENCY WITH OUR USE OF OTHER ELEMENTS OF WORSHIP
Why should the Lord’s Supper be the only regular element of worship which does not find a place in each Lord’s Day worship service? To be consistent, any argument against weekly communion would be an equally valid argument against weekly hymn-singing, weekly praying, weekly preaching, and so on.
BRINGING US BACK TO BASICS
Regardless of the sermon text or topic, the congregation is always brought back to the fundamentals—the death and resurrection of Christ (Matthew 26:26-28).
APPEAL TO THE WHOLE MAN
Since the Lord’s Supper is the only element of worship that appeals to all five senses, its weekly observance helps to prevent an “intellectualizing” of the worship service. If we do not celebrate the Sacrament frequently, we should not be surprised when our members leave Reformed worship for something more “stimulating.”
OPPORTUNITY FOR COVENANT RENEWAL
The Lord’s Supper is the ideal means of meditating on God’s Word and renewing our faith and repentance so that we may serve the Lord in the upcoming week (Acts 20:7).
PROVIDING ASSURANCE, PERSONALIZING THE GOSPEL
Every week the believer receives tangible and visible assurance that Christ died for him (Matthew 26:28).
IDENTIFICATION WITH THE PEOPLE OF GOD
This Sacrament stresses the corporate dimension of the Church, thereby promoting unity and the restoration of broken relationships. Don’t we need this every week (1 Cor. 10:16-17)?
One of the stages of discipline in many Reformed churches is suspension from the Lord’s Table. One of the purposes of this is to make the unrepentant sinner aware of his sin that he might be restored. But how effective can this be if the Lord’s Supper is not celebrated frequently? Even once a month would not seem to constitute effective suspension (1 Cor. 5:11-13).
VISIBLE MARK OF A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST
There is always the need to distinguish believer from unbeliever (Eph. 5:6-8). Since one of the purposes of the Sacraments is to make this difference visible, we should produce this visible difference often.
NATURAL PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL TO UNBELIEVERS
By setting forth so plainly the work of Christ on the cross, and especially by fencing the table, any unbelievers present are called to faith and repentance. Weekly communion thus provides a natural and regular opportunity to present the claims of Christ to visitors.
Since the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace, through faith it provides us with what we need to grow in grace. Thus, the frequent partaking of the bread and the wine for our spiritual nourishment is as necessary as the frequent partaking of food for our physical nourishment (1 Cor. 10:16).
CALL TO SELF-EXAMINATION AND REPENTANCE
Such should be our daily practice. Weekly communion reminds us of this and gives us opportunity to actually do so on a regular basis (1 Cor. 11:27-32).
One of the problems with an infrequent celebration of the Lord’s Supper is that it tends to produce unrealistically high expectations as to what should “happen.” People expect something magical and exciting to happen at quarterly communion, but are often disappointed; they go away wondering what they missed and why they missed it. By celebrating the Lord’s Supper each week our expectations become realistically high; we look forward to and enjoy it much as we do prayer, preaching, singing, and the other elements of Christian worship.
TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!