The breaking of Bread
One of the foundation rites of the early church was the breaking of bread. It appears as an essential element of the initial church organisation, being part of regular apostolic ministry. It was held every Lord’s Day, and constituted a binding act of fellowship throughout the churches.
The breaking of bread service is full of deep significance, and to many believers the highlight of devotion, an enriching period of public worship. It is held in obedience to our Lord’s command, who from the many elements of the passover service, selected bread and wine to form the basis of this simple ceremony.
The breaking of bread service displays a faithful readiness to observe the express desire of our Lord; it is a frequent remembrance of his body broken and his blood shed for us; a fragrant rite by which all believers declare their oneness in Christ; a fervent recital of the victory of the cross; a time of frank reflection on the state of one’s own heart. It is retrospective in that our thoughts are directed to our Lords passion and death on the tree, it is introspective insofar as we examine ourselves before we partake, it is prospective in that we do this “till he comes”.
The bread and wine are but symbols; but faith gives them spiritual significance, and thus partaking we have “communion with the body and blood of Christ”. If to partake unworthily brings sickness and death, how much more shall partaking in faith minister life and health. Thus the breaking of bread is a sacrament, that is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”. The term Holy Communion expresses; the divine intention of this ceremony, and to all true believers it becomes a Eucharistic Feast.
Scripture references: Acts 2:42, 46, 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:20-25; Jude 12; Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16,17, 14:16.
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