Eating Together On Sunday Morning

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A few months ago, our Sunday Night Bible study began to discuss why we partake in Holy Communion.  It was a challenging conversation that led us to three conclusions: 1) we partake together because Jesus, through scripture, taught us to do so; 2) the way we partake in Holy Communion today is highly traditional; and, 3) many could not connect the biblical experience Holy Communion and our tradition of Holy Communion.  This led us to the challenge: can we recapture the way in which the early Church would have experienced Holy Communion so we can connect the biblical experience with our tradition today?  I offer five reasons why our church is eating together on Sunday Morning.

1. Jesus ate with His disciples.

When we read Luke 22 for our Holy Communion text, we often jump to verse 19 – “…He took bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it…and likewise the cup…” and so on…  In reality, the picture of the Lord’s Supper is much different.  Jesus had sat down with his disciples for the Passover meal.  If we go back to verse 14, we read:

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

With that in mind, we should read verse 19 and 20 and we realize that Communion took place after they ate:

19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

In order to create an atmosphere of unity, with fellow believers in Christ, perhaps we need to eat together to recreate the Passover experience and conclude with Holy Communion.  Our meal together will remain sacred, but eating together will add the unity that we often miss in our traditional Holy Communion experience.

2. The early Church devoted themselves to eating together.

In Acts we are given a picture of the life of the early Church.  At the end of chapter 2, we are given a summary of what they focused on as early Christians.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

The “fellowship” and “breaking of bread” was more than simply a social and the partaking of symbolic items – which is what we traditionally do today.  The early church devoted themselves to eating together.  In fact, verse 42 is really a great picture of what an early Church service looked like: the apostles’ teaching (a sermon), fellowship (community), breaking of bread (a meal and Holy Communion), and prayer.

Because the early Church devoted themselves to this, we will be incorporating this experience in our special Sunday Morning gathering so we can gain a deeper appreciation of this holistic spiritual community that is described in scripture.

3. Holy Communion is about unity.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, one of the main issues he was trying to correct was their lack of unity amongst each other.  This is how he began his Holy Communion discussion in 1 Corinthians 11:

18…when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.

He was trying to make sure they knew that the experience should bring them together, and not further apart.  In other words, Holy Communion should be about the corporate community and not just the individual person.

Holy Communion needs to bring everyone together.  Eating together allows for this in a special way.  We are people of community, we enjoy spending time with friends, and often eat together in a very natural way.  If scripture is trying to encourage this sort unity, this is a great way to help us connect tradition with the biblical experience.

4. Eating together removes us from a tradition and into a new divine experience.

I will admit, eating together in a Sunday morning service is far from the norm.  That said, eating together in general is completely normal.  In fact, we encourage it and seem to enjoy eating together.  It seems as though we’re not sure that eating together can be sacred.   If scripture, however, paints a very spiritual picture of what a meal together entails, than perhaps we need to change our view of eating together.

I think by reshaping what we call normal we can lead ourselves into a new divine experience.  That’s not to say our traditional experience isn’t already divine, please don’t hear what I’m not saying.  I’m simply trying to show that by trying something new, we are, in effect, able to view a divine experience in another divine way.

5. Eating together brings strength as we wait for Christ to return.

Holy Communion helps us remember what Christ did for us on the cross, reflect on what that means for us spiritually today (our salvation), and look forward to when we will one day eat together and partake with Christ (1 Corinthians 11:25, 26).  In fact, Jesus tells us that He will not even eat this meal until the Kingdom is established and He and all believers are together (Luke 22:18).

By eating together in unity, we are able to remember and celebrate what Jesus has done for all of us and truly look forward the great meal we will have when the Kingdom is fully established in heaven.  It’s beautiful.

In conclusion…

We may have missed some of the meaning and significance of Holy Communion because we have disconnected the biblical experience of Holy Communion with our traditional experience of Holy Communion. Because Jesus ate with his disciples and the early Church ate together, Holy Communion started out of unity.  By participating in a new experience of eating together, I believe we will be able to bring unity and strength to the body of Christ as we continue to be a witness for Him and wait for His return.

So, on Sunday morning, we will sing, pray, read scripture, eat together, share in Holy Communion, and share how Jesus is working in us and through us.

Your turn:

How can you recreate the communion experience?  Tell us about what you have tried, or are planning to try?

After we experience this, I will post some things we learned, as a follow up post.

LOVE: What the English Language Can’t Explain

Greek Words For Love

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For many of us, the term LOVE is used in many ways.  The only way to really understand it’s meaning, is by hearing the context in which it’s used.  For example, if a husband told his wife, “I love you,” we would understand that differently than if a sister told her brother, “I love you.”  The English language offers one word (LOVE) with many meanings, and in communication, we decipher the true meaning in a particular context.

Well, not all languages are as complicated as English.  Greek offers four words for our relational LOVE and at least one for possessive LOVE.  This becomes very important when understanding Scripture and knowing what kind of love the Bible is referring to.  I would never consider myself a Greek scholar, but hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the word and it’s meaning.

1. Phileo

This is friendship love – the kind of love we have for a friend. This particular love is interesting because it’s the only love we actually choose. Generally speaking, love is a very natural thing, and in many cases, necessary to survive. While many of us have the desire and want to socialize and have friends, it’s still a choice to do so. In the Bible, we read about loving each other in unity and also the relational love between God and humanity (John 16:27). In this particular case, the follower of Christ finds friendship and relationship with the Father because we chose to follow.

2. Eros

While some will say there are exceptions, eros is normally used when referring to the passionate or sexual love between two people.  This is where the word erotic comes from.  Interestingly enough, this is the only word for love that doesn’t show up in scripture.  We can’t prove why, however, I would think we don’t see it because the Bible isn’t about this kind of love.  Yes, God intended us to be fruitful and multiply; however, the biblical story is between God and humanity.

3. Storge

Where eros is the love between a man and women and phileo is the love between friends, storge is the natural bond of love between family members.  This is the love between parents and their children, between siblings, and among social and racial groups (patriotism).  While this word doesn’t directly show up in the Bible, there is a compound version found in Romans 12:10.  It is a combination of philia and storge, giving a translation of “love one another with brotherly [and sisterly] affection,” or with a “strong natural affection.”

4. Agape

While eros, philia, and storge all have relational components, agape is much different.  It’s still a relational love; however, it’s affectionate and not attractive.  Agape is more concerned with unconditional giving than merited receiving.  Of course, this is the kind of love we experience with God, and it’s the kind of love God expects us to show each other – especially in terms of forgiveness.  We try, however, to love God with agape love with our obedience, our love for him in our worship, by accepting Christ, and by mirroring that love among one another.  A perfect example of this kind of love can be read in John 3:16, where John explains how the Father sent the Son to die for us to give us eternal life to all who except it.

Our language is so simple compared to other languages.  As a result, we need to be careful how we interpret words like LOVE so we embrace the correct meaning.  When reading Scripture, it’s important to note that agape LOVE is the end goal, while philia and storge fit into our personal relationships with one another and  eros is very important among healthy marriages, the Bible is most concerned about how God loves us with agape love.  Epithumia refers to our desire to pursue healthy or harmful passions – the former pushes us towards understanding agape better, while the latter blurs our vision altogether.

Breaking Bread – The Early Church (Part 2)

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A devoted church, is a church who eats together.  In this series, we’ll explore what Jesus said, what the early church did, and how we, the church, can become more devoted.

The idea of breaking bread has two implications: partaking in communion and eating together.  For the early Church, these usually occurred together.

What JESUS said about eating together…

Jesus did a lot of socializing.  Much like our culture, this included eating together.  We can see an example of this in Luke 19, when Jesus ended up becoming the guest of Zacchaeus:

[Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through.  And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.  And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.  So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”[i]

Let’s briefly look at this.  First, Zacchaeus was a chief tax-collector[ii].  As a result, he wasn’t well liked by the general public and quite rich.  It’s safe to say that’s probably why Zacchaeus had a hard time seeing among a crowd.

Secondly, Jesus made the first move.  Jesus didn’t pass Zacchaeus waiting for him to speak, “he looked up”[iii] and asked to be a guest at his house.  Jesus associated himself with someone who was rejected by most people.

Thirdly, salvation was brought to a household because of their generosity.   That generosity, however, was sparked because Jesus choose to spent time with them.  He socialized and ate with a “sinner” and as a result, Zacchaeus’ whole mindset was transformed.

Jesus also taught his disciples to remember Him by sharing in bread and wine.  Shortly after the Zacchaeus story, Luke records:

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat ituntil it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God… And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”[iv]

Jesus “reclined” with his disciples for a meal before he continued with the symbolic portion of their last supper together.  While Jesus socialized with those he associated himself with, they both shared in a meal and prepared for the coming significance of the cross.  They broke bread together.

What the EARLY CHURCH did…

The early Church devoted themselves to breaking bread on a regular basis.[v]  That said, Paul had to do some correcting on the matter while writing to the church in Corinth:

When you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you…When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.  For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.  What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?[vi]

Unity was the issue.  Instead of eating together, they ate on their own terms.  As a result, some were hungry while others had more than enough.   If there was unity, the church would have honored God by eating and sharing together.

It seems as though the early Church understood the last supper to be a Passover meal.  In remembrance of Christ, they too were “coming together”[vii] to break bread.  This also seems to be closely related to hospitality – an Old Testament principle with integral teachings in the New Testament.[viii]  The key here was inviting people into their homes to share in a meal which often included remembering Christ.  A mixture of Zacchaeus hospitality and scared communion; creating unity and remembering Christ.

What EARLY PENTECOSTALS did…

Pentecostalism started from a desire to leave organized religions.  Their goal was to spread the “good news” because they believed the fresh outpour of the Spirit was a true reminder of the imminent return of Christ.  How did they do that? Through friendships, social gatherings and divine participation.  Early Pentecostals participated together in unity during their services while often sharing the slogan “all are welcome”.

Eating together often meant three things: (1) celebrating with God; (2) celebrating with the faithful; and (3) celebrating the invitation.[ix]  For Pentecostals, partaking in communion and sharing in a meal helped them to be thankful for what Christ did, socialize with other believers, and present an invitation for others to experience salvation.  They were devoted to this process.

What the CHURCH TODAY needs to do…

I think we have a lot to learn from history.  Breaking bread should be seen as an activity which encourages unity.  Perhaps the best thing we could do is work on integrating hospitality and sacred time with God.  We need to make sure we are an inviting people who enjoy spending time with fellow believers, while remembering what Christ did for us.

So where does this leave us?  Perhaps we can start by thinking of ways we can make social times more sacred, and sacred times more social.  If we work towards integrating unity, our relationship with God and hospitality, we’ll start to experience what it actually means to break bread together.

Our assembly meets for a social and Bible Study Sunday nights, shares in communion once a month, gathers for socials throughout the year, and hosts campfires during the summer.  The challenge always remains – to make social times more sacred, and sacred times more social.

Will we be as devoted as the early Church was and break bread together?


[i] Luke 19:1-10, ESV.

[ii] Chief Tax Collectors – Would have collected from the extra taken from the tax collectors under them.

[iii] Luke 19:5.

[iv] Luke 22:14-16, 19-20.

[v] Acts 2:42; 20:7.

[vi] 1 Cor 11:17-22.

[vii] I Cor 11:18, 33.

[viii] James I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, William White, Jr., eds., Daily Life in Bible Times (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982), 109.

[ix] Wolfgang Vondey, “Pentecostal ecclesiology and Eucharistic hospitality: toward a systematic and ecumenical account of the church,” Pneuma 32, no. 1 (January 1, 2010), 49.