The church is not a place. How many times do we say that we are going to the church, or congregation, when we mean that we are going to the house or place of the congregation? We say “beit knesset” (synagogue), which means the house of the assembled congregation, but we seem to speak otherwise about the local church meeting place. The church is a spiritual corporate body of believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, called to assemble together in whatever place wherever that may be. The Body of Messiah is located all over the world, is being increased daily, and those who have died in the faith will one day rise from the dead (resurrected) to meet those who are alive in Christ who are snatched up (raptured) at His return, and we will be gathered together in one place with the Lord. Praise God for that great and precious promise!
We are all priests as believers in Yeshua – male and female of any age, tribe, language, nation, and ethnicity. Thus, we all have equal and direct access to God the Father through the name of our great High Priest, Yeshua/Jesus. We do not need any other mediator. (1Pt 2:5-9; Heb 4:14-16)
Each local congregation is part of the whole Body of Christ, under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is in the midst of each and all the churches (lampstands). His letters through the Apostle John were addressed to local churches in different cities. (Rev 1 – 3) The exhortation in the letter to the Hebrews is to assemble together – not to be alone, nor to be content with isolation, or with “online fellowship”. We are to be accountable to one another, which can only be fully realized in actual community together.
Under the Headship/Lordship/sovereignty of Jesus, He gives positions of ministry/service to oversee and to be a spiritual covering for the flock under their care and stewardship, as a husband does for his wife when things are in good, right order in God’s Kingdom. The overall objective of pastors and teachers (with the apostles, prophets, evangelists) is to bring to full spiritual maturity all those under their authority and care in local churches and cities.
The Lord’s Supper/the Disciples’ Supper/Yeshua’s Family Supper does not require a leader or a minister in order to take it. Nor does it require a formal church service in order to take it. (I am aware that there are those who think differently about this.) It is a remembrance and proclamation by believers (who normally have been baptized as a testimony in obedience of their personal repentance and faith) in the Lord Jesus, of His suffering and death, of His shed blood on the cross as the New Covenant atoning sacrifice for our sins, of His physical bodily resurrection from among the dead, of His appearance to hundreds for 40 days proving He was alive, of His ascension back to glory in Heaven at the right hand of the Father, where He is now interceding for us – all those aspects in between His death until His physical bodily return. We can even remember His birth, since in order to die, He needed to be born as a human being: the Seed of the woman, Yeshua, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It should be a sober celebration of spiritual sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise, just as the Passover in Israel is, but even moreso.
It is best done with others, but if there are no others, what prevents anyone from doing this alone, e.g., in the present exceptional circumstances of corona virus restrictions on meeting together? Why can’t the Communion be taken together now through a YouTube or a Zoom virtual service? What prevents brothers and sisters in Messiah from taking it together when they are in their homes together? What prevents those who have forgiven and reconciled with a brother or sister from taking the Lord’s Supper together as a testimony to the righteousness and grace of God?
As the Apostle Paul gives instructions on taking the bread and the cup, so, too, does he mention taking it in a worthy manner. Whoever might be “conducting the covenantal supper” should be someone in good standing with the Lord, and who respects the awe and the holiness of what it represents. This would be similar to someone who leads a Passover seder: someone who appreciates the history and the authenticity of that great covenantal event is better suited to conduct the family meal of celebration and remembrance. (Acts 2:42)
There seems to be no requirement in the NT that an official spiritual leader – pastor, reverend, priest – conduct the holy memorial.
The NT says that we are the one bread of the Lord. We are the one Body of Messiah: God sees our faces in that one loaf, a reminder that we are His redeemed people in covenant community, in family, as the 12 loaves of the showbread (bread of the faces/lechem ha-panim) in the Tabernacle and the Temple represented all of the Tribes of Israel as one people and family chosen by YHVH God. (Lev 24:5-9)
It is reasonable that there are rules, and there are exceptions to rules. Taking the Lord’s Supper alone, or only with family and friends at home, are normally exceptions to the rule that we participate physically together as a congregational/church family, conducted normally by an “official” spiritual leader. But, even then, under the oversight of the leadership, they can allow and honor others to do that. All…to the glory of God and our Savior. (1Cor 10:31; 1Cor 11:24, 27-28; Lev 10:3) The exceptions are not to be used as an excuse for not assembling together as a church congregation whenever that is possible, or that all of the exceptions should become normative in the regular gathering of the believers. (Lk 4:16; Heb 10:24-25; 1Jn 4:21; 1Cor 11:18-22, 33)
Why should we let Covid-19 cancel out a commandment and tradition for the churches that the Lord’s Supper is?!
Let us be freed by the truth — sanctifying the name of God our Father and of our Savior and Lord Yeshua/Jesus, and thank God for the liberty that we have as His sons and daughters, and as brothers and sisters of our Lord and King — by allowing ourselves to do what might be exceptional in exceptional times such as these, and to encourage one another to fellowship in the Holy Spirit with all those who are doing the same as recipients of the manifold wisdom and grace of our Creator and Redeemer! Praise to His holy name! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, February 6, 2021, and reposted with permission.