How often do we celebrate the Lord's Supper?
The Bible does not say how often it should be celebrated but the book of Acts indicates that the early church partook of the elements frequently and that the experience typically included a time of teaching, fellowship together and prayer (Acts 2:42). At Westwood we observe communion the first Sunday of the month with the exception of the month of Easter when communion is observed during the Maundy Thursday service.
What does the Bible tell us about the Lord's Supper?
It was instituted by Jesus Christ before His death. “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” -Luke 22:19 (NIV) You can capture the essence of what communion is in one word, “remember.” Jesus is asking us to take the bread and drink from the cup so we won’t forget who He is and what He did for us on the cross. He knew that the pace of life and the challenges we face, as well as life’s heartbreaks, could converge and cause our memory to fade concerning the importance of what Christ has done for us. Our memory fades, so does our worship, and so does our wonder.
It is for believers who are prepared to remember the Lord.
“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. “ -1 Corinthians 11:27-29 (NIV) You do not have to be a member of Westwood to participate in communion. You do need to be a follower of Christ walking in right relationship with Him. Each time communion is offered at Westwood an invitation is given for each person to make their relationship right with God before they partake of the bread and the cup. For those who have been away from the Lord for a long time the communion experience can be a welcomed and powerful invitation to come home to God.
It is a time to remember Christ and our new relationship with God through faith in Him. “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
1 Corinthians 11:25 (NIV)
The Bread and the Cup
Communion includes bread, which represents His body, God coming in the flesh, and the cup, which represents Christ’s blood, shed on the cross for our forgiveness of sin. “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” -1Corinthians 10:16 (NIV)
The bread and the cup are symbols or reminders that picture our salvation. The Lord’s Supper is a picture of His sacrificial death to secure salvation for us. Some church traditions believe the elements literally become the body and blood of Christ. We do not believe the Bible teaches this, but rather that the bread and cup are symbols to help us remember Him.
A covenant means an “arrangement made by one party which the other party involved can accept or reject but cannot alter.” God, the “Arranger” of the new covenant, was offering through His Son a new and better way. We can accept or reject His offer. But we can’t alter it.
It anticipates Christ’s return and we will practice communion until He comes again. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” -1 Corinthians 11:26 (NIV)
Can children participate in the communion service?
Children are welcome to participate in communion. Westwood believes that participation in communion is an individual decision. The church doesn’t decide for you or for your children. You determine the readiness of a child to participate. We encourage each parent to spend time with their children and explain the wonder and significance of this service. We suggest the following questions, based on God’s directives, as a guideline for discerning a child’s readiness. 1. Has your child made a personal decision to follow Jesus Christ as his or her Savior and Lord? 2. Have you explained to your child the meaning behind the elements of the communion service? Does your child demonstrate an age appropriate understanding of the symbolism involved in the Communion Service? 3. Has your child requested to participate? If so, do the reasons behind the request reflect a biblical understanding of the Communion Service? Answering “yes” to these questions, indicates a clear understanding of His death and resurrection and a readiness to participate in the Communion Service. If you would like a pastor to assist you in clarifying the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, please call the church office (952.224.7300).