Most Christian denominations and independents consider communion to be an ordinance of the church. Cell Life Church is no different. We teach about communion and water baptism as ordinances of the church instituted by Jesus Christ. Today there are many Christians who have only celebrated communion as part of a church service in an established church or at least communion that has been served or presided over by a minister or priest. The current situation in the world with COVID-19 or Coronavirus is forcing Christians to celebrate Easter at home and, for many, partake of communion at home. Cell Life Church Live will be celebrating communion online as part of our webcast this Easter and we are encouraging people to be prepared at home to join us. You may be asking some or all of these questions:
- How do we celebrate communion at home?
- How do we prepare?
- Doesn’t a minister or priest have to bless the bread and wine or juice?
- Is it a sin for me to celebrate communion in my home with my family?
These are all great questions. This blog is not about debating doctrinal differences. It is about teaching what the Bible says, plain and simple. You get to be the judge. You are the only one responsible for your spiritual well being. Before we can answer our main question, we must know what communion is.
What is communion?
Simply put, communion is the practice of celebrating the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. Jesus is who instituted the Lord’s supper which is also known as communion. Let’s read it in Luke 22:14-18.
Luke 22:14-21 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. (15) And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (16) For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (17) After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. (18) For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (19) 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.” (20) In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (21) But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.
Jesus was gathered together in a room to celebrate the Passover. This festival was in remembrance of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt thousands of years earlier. That had been a miracle and it was a foretelling of the deliverance God was going to provide through Jesus Christ for all mankind. Communion is further shared later in 1 Corinthians 11:23-27.
1 Corinthians 11:23-27
1 Corinthians 11:23-27 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (25) 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.” (26) For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (27) So then, 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.
1 Corinthians 11:27 is where many denominations get hung up and have made doctrinal rules about the celebration of communion. Many take the meaning of eating or drinking in an unworthy manner to mean it is not done under the auspices of a minister or priest in a solemn manner. They do this to be better safe than sorry. However, the Apostle Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians 11:28-29:
1 Corinthians 11:28-29
1 Corinthians 11:28-29 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. (29) For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
We are responsible for ourselves. It is up to us to reflect on ourselves and ask the Lord’s forgiveness before we partake of the bread and juice or wine. The moment Jesus died on the cross we read in the gospel accounts that the veil in the temple was torn in two. The veil is what separated the Holy place from the Most Holy Place in the temple. This means we no longer must go through a priest or minister to reach God. Our path to God is a personal path through Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ only.
Now that we know what communion is, who instituted it, and the Bible passages regarding it, let’s answer those questions.
Is it a sin to celebrate communion in my home with my family?
Most people asking this question have a history with very liturgical denominations. Denominations like Catholicism, Anglican, Episcopalian, and others like them fall into this category. There are reasons they believe and teach this.
There is a doctrine of transubstantiation that many of these denominations believe. Basically, this doctrine teaches that the bread, as it is eaten by the believer, miraculously becomes the body of Jesus in the believer and the wine miraculously becomes the blood of Jesus in the body of the believer. This doctrine is derived from Jesus’ statement in Luke 22:19-20. Cell Life Church does not believe this or teach this. In fact, most mainline denominations and independents do not believe or teach this. Jesus is speaking metaphorically when he says this.
It is not a sin to celebrate communion in your home with your family or friends.
Doesn’t a minister or priest have to bless the bread and wine or juice?
It is also not a sin to use something other than unleavened bread and grape juice or wine for the emblems. You can use anything for communion. Prepare and share the elements in dedication to the Lord. You must give thanks to God for the elements. Share the elements solemnly. Many people the concept of saying grace before a meal derives from the practice Jesus used when he gathered with his disciples.
The head of the household is the priest of the household. It has been this way since the beginning with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve changed our lives forever when they disobeyed God. This sin established a hierarchy. God instituted a head of household, so to speak, who would be the priest of the home. We read more about this concept in Ephesians chapter 5 starting in verse 22. It is beyond the scope of this blog to dive into the relationship between husbands and wives. Suffice it to say, it is the duty of the Christian husband to serve his family just as Christ served the Church.
Some families do not have a Dad in the home, either temporarily or permanently. That is okay. It is the head of the household who is the priest of the home. This priest of the home can, and should, preside over communion in the home and bless the elements used in communion, whatever they may be. When I served on a submarine in the United States Navy one of my ancillary duties was as Protestant Lay Leader. We celebrate communion often while underway and we did it with saltine crackers and fruit punch. The elements you use are not important. The condition of the heart of the participants is what is important.
How do we prepare for communion in our home?
The preparation of communion is simple. Gather the elements you are going to use and give thanks to God for them and the provision of them. Ask God to bless them elements you are using, whether it is saltine crackers and fruit punch, unleavened bread and wine, tortillas and fruit juice, or something else. Place the elements on a tray or plate.
Make 1 Corinthians 11:23-27 available. Open it in your Bible, Bible app, or print it out from this blog.
How do we celebrate communion at home?
Once you have gathered the elements and scripture references, gather your family. Follow along with the online leader’s instructions you are joining. I will be leading communion on Easter Sunday on Cell Life Church Live.
Be prepared to pray if you are celebrating on your own in your home or facilitating communion for your small group. You will be giving thanks to God for the provision of the elements and for the sacrifice of Christ that they represent. You will need to instruct those gathered to reflect on their lives and give them time to silently ask the Lord for forgiveness for sin the Holy Spirit points out to them so they do not participate in communion in an unworthy manner.
Once everyone has had the opportunity to reflect and repent for sin the Holy Spirit reveals to them pass out the elements to everyone and ask everyone to hold the elements until everyone has been served. This way everyone can eat and drink at the same time, celebrating together.
Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-27. After reading the passage of scripture, eat the bread together and then drink together.
Celebrating communion at home is wonderful and very rewarding. It does not have to occur as part of a larger worship service in a church building. You can celebrate communion whenever and wherever you find yourself. Communion is celebrating the sacrifice Jesus made on that Roman cross 2000 years ago.