Why are we dipping instead of drinking?

1239615_10151714899103246_2111810181_n“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV).

We’ve had a couple of questions about the Lord’s Supper recently and we’d like to offer a short explanation to both. The first question we’ve heard is:

“Why are we having Lord’s Supper every Sunday now?”

We normally have it quarterly on every 5th Sunday, but we felt that our current seven-week sermon series through the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus deserved a more focused and experiential opportunity to respond. What better way to do this we thought, than to offer a time of remembering the Lord’s Supper? We really wanted this series to point people to Jesus. And thank God, that’s just what we’ve seen. These past two Sundays we have really experienced the presence of Christ. People have been saved and the worship has been awesome!

We believe that we have liberty when it comes to the frequency of remembering the Lord’s Supper. Many churches offer it weekly, others monthly and others quarterly. Some have no planned frequency, but offer it when they feel led of the Spirit. The first century church seems to have offered it every Lord’s Day.

In offering it every Sunday during this seven-week series, we wanted to change things up a bit, making it as meaningful as possible to engage hearts and minds, and set up a certain sacredness of worship flow in its layout. So, we arranged four tables with a candle, a cross, a cup, a basket of bread and an offering bucket on each one, then invited people to respond as the Lord led them. They could bring an offering, pray, tear off a piece of bread, dip it in the cup of grape juice, and remember what Christ had done for them on the cross.

It was this dipping the bread idea that led to the second question we’ve heard, which is:

“Why are we dipping instead of drinking?”

This is a fair question because our deacons normally serve the bread (in the form of little crunchy wafers in silver plates) and the grape juice (in silver trays containing tiny, clear-plastic, disposable cups) by either having people come forward or by passing them out with people staying seated. This has been our normal practice.

For this seven-week series we wanted to set a table that would offer a more satisfying communal and sensory experience. The smell and sight of a burning scented candle, fresh flat-bread that was both soft and tasty laid in a basket with cloth over top, a glass goblet of sparkling grape juice to dip a freshly torn-off piece of bread, an artistic cross to view while saying, “Amen.” These are beautiful symbols of remembrance.

Again, we believe we have the liberty (within biblical guidelines and our church’s statement of faith) to vary not only the frequency of the Lord’s Supper, but its practice as well. So, we decided to try intinction (from the Latin intinctio meaning to “dip into”) as a means for “drinking” from “the cup.” Intinction is an ancient practice in churches, although rarely seen or heard of in Baptist churches like ours.

For us, it was a way of honoring the idea of Christ’s body as one loaf and His blood as one cup, while maintaining a certain amount of hygiene for those that would balk at drinking from a common cup. We know that the verbs from the Scripture (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:14-23, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29) are: “eat” and “drink,” which teach us how to take the Lord’s Supper. But we also know that the subject nouns in Scripture that describe the elements are: “this bread” and “the cup.” In both cases describing a singular loaf and common cup (And let’s not even get into whether the contents of the cup should be wine or grape juice!). We strive to offer a Lord’s Supper experience that honors both the nature of the elements and the proscribed actions, while at the same time remembering that the ordinance is a symbolic remembrance and proclamation.

While balancing our adherence to Scripture with hygiene concerns, we also have the matter of those who request a gluten-free bread alternative. Certainly not in the Bible, but neither is it prohibited, so we have been offering a gluten-free option on the left side of each basket.

We hope this helps answer the two questions about frequency and method concerning the Lord’s Supper.

One Response to “Why are we dipping instead of drinking?”

  1. steve hodge

    i love having the lords supper every sunday. it is a good thing to do as well as going to church. i love reading this blog pastor gary.

    Reply

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