Sunday, February 1, 2009


26 During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: Take, eat. This is my body. 27 Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them: Drink this, all of you. 28 This is my blood, God's new covenant poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins. 29 "I'll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I'll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father." Matthew 26:26-29 [MSG]

When I moved my family from Terre Haute to Indianapolis thirteen months ago, we embarked on a lengthy church hunt, visiting different churches every weekend, hoping to find one where we felt welcome, at home, where we felt God was calling us to return. Week after week we found ourselves disappointed, with the sermon some weeks, with the music other weeks, even with the offerings for children's worship at times -- and each and every week, we were disappointed with Communion.

In Matthew 26, Christ instructed His disciples to remember Him through Communion (a term not used by Christ, but later used by Christians to label the practice): the breaking and eating of bread and drinking of the cup. Just as Christ instructed us to follow Him in Baptism by immersion, He instructed us in the proper way to remember Him in Communion. Christ did not tell us to practice sprinkle Baptism, and He did not tell us to practice Communion by dipping bread into the cup. We follow His instructions for Baptism to the letter. Why, then, did every church we visited insist on dipping Communion bread into the cup?

We finally found a church on the northwest corner of Indianapolis where we felt comfortable, where we felt welcome, where the kids enjoyed their worship time and we felt they spent it learning and worshipping. We finally found a church that observed Communion in the manner Christ instructed. It has been "our" church ever since.

A month ago, our church started a Saturday night service -- in an attempt to accomodate a growing congregation (5000 most weekends) and to reach out to those who don't (or can't) attend on Sundays. We attended the first Saturday evening service and loved it. We felt that God had blessed us -- everything about the service was just what we had been looking for all along.

We missed the second week due to obligations at my work, and returned on week three to find that everything had changed. The worship music -- while still played by the same band -- had become somehow countrified. Worse yet, when it came time for Communion, we were instructed to break a piece of bread off the loaf and dip into the cup. Why? We both felt very out of place during the service, and later agreed to try Saturday night one more time.

We did just that last evening, and were pleased to see that the music was much more to our liking. Don't misread me, I understand that going to church is not an entertainment event. I don't expect the worship band to cater to us. I understand that we go for worship and praise, but it's much easier to worship through song when you know the songs and enjoy the style of music.

What we weren't pleased with was Communion. As we entered the sanctuary and saw Communion implements designed for the dipping of bread, we were both disappointed. We both chose not to partake of Communion -- not out of protest or purpose.

This is my issue with it: the dipping of bread into the cup is not Biblical. No matter which book of the Gospel you read, or which translation, you won't find a passage where Christ instructed us to dip the bread into the cup.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke all described Communion as drinking from the cup. Only John even mentions dipping the bread, but not in reference to Communion. John speaks of Jesus dipping a crust of bread into the cup and saying "The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I've dipped it" will be the one to betray Me. So dipping the bread was not an act of Communion, but instead Christ's way of identifying the one who would betray him.

Dipping the bread into the cup is not a Biblical way to remember Christ through Communion, just as sprinkling water is not a Biblical way to follow Christ in Baptism. Why, then, do so many Christian churches choose this method of "Communion?" To me, if it is not Biblical, then why do it? Why practice something that Christ didn't teach in lieu of following His instructions literally?

My wife and I did not -- and will not -- observe Communion through the dipping of bread. Maybe this is God's way of telling us that the Saturday evening service was not what He had planned for us. Maybe He's telling us that we should return to the Sunday morning service, or possibly continue searching for a new church home. Unfortunately, God doesn't often write His message on a wall for us to read as we drive down the street. He often leaves it to us to interpret what He is trying to tell us.

Next Sunday, we will be returning to the same church, but not on Saturday evening. The dipping of bread might be fine for the other 443 people in attendance on Saturday night, but not for us. We will return to Sunday morning, and hopefully feel the same calling we felt several months ago when we first attended a Sunday morning service at this church. Neither one of us wants to start searching for a church home again.

Don't believe that the quotes above are the same in every translation? Click them, then feel free to select a different translation at BibleGateway, and you'll see that they all tell the same tale of Communion.

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