It’s early Monday morning of Holy Week. Even now, I’m contemplating and meditating on our Lord’s last week. In a few minutes, I’m meeting with my nephews to offer you a devotion pertaining to our Lord’s last week. And honestly, as I sit here, my heart is longing to corporately gather with you to worship God. I know we will meet again, but only God knows when, and that is enough for me. I keep reminding you that we are the church scattered but united and not the church scattered and divided. The church is not where we are but who we are. On Good Friday, Shawn and I will be recording a short Good Friday service for you. We will worship our great God and King through song, scripture, and taking the elements of the Lord’s Supper. I have prayed over the taking of the Lord’s Supper and have concluded it is good and right for you and me to worship Jesus and remember His sacrifice in this way. I know some will disagree with my assessment. Therefore, I want to share with the church how I came to this conclusion.
In “normal” times, I am one of those who believe the ordinances of the Church, Baptism and Lord’s Supper, should be held within the authority and community of the gathered church. However, have you noticed we are not in “normal” times? We are in an extraordinary season of church life; it has not been church as usual for weeks. The current “normal” is a scattered but unified church. In my heart, I think there is no greater picture of our unity as a church body than taking the elements of the Lord’s Supper together though scattered. I think this will be a very holy moment for us all.
One of the stories the Lord impressed upon my heart is David eating the consecrated bread in the Temple. All three synoptic gospels tell this story. In Matthew 12:1-8, Jesus reflects on this narrative and describes the details. Notice the Pharisees are stalking Jesus and hoping to trap Him and accuse Him. It is the Sabbath, and according to the Law, it was unlawful for a Jew to do any work on the Sabbath. In fact, “Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people” (Exodus 31:14). The leaders were so worried about working on the Sabbath that they created rules upon rules and missed the heart of it all. In doing so, they placed a heavy yoke upon the people.
In this story, David, not yet King David, “entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for them to do” (Matthew 12:4). It was unlawful for them to enter into the “house of God ” much less eat of the sacred bread. But Jesus’ point was this was an uncommon and extraordinary time, and David ate and fed his men because it was right, and the Law does not trump a man’s heart. Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 and says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Notice also, Jesus breaks the Sabbath in the next few verses by healing a man. Religion is more about the heart and relationship than it is about Law and performance. Let’s not be so rigid in our application that we miss the heart of the Supper. These are unprecedented days, and I feel we are pleasing the Lord when we remember His body and blood as a united but scattered church.
I think this can help us in deciding if we can take the Lord’s Supper on Friday. First, I will still be serving you the elements. Even though we are scattered, we are united under Christ. I will be serving you and walking through the elements of the Supper as if we were in the same room. Under “normal” circumstances, we would not serve the elements of the Supper this way. But these are not ordinary days. I also hold to the Priesthood of the Believer. In your union with Christ, you have become a priest of God. There is no longer a priestly class to mediate between you and God. Every believer has the right to read, interpret, and apply the teachings of God’s Word. In these unparalleled days, I think the authority each believer has will allow them to serve the elements of the Supper, while still under the authority of the local church. Let me stress, if you are uncomfortable serving the elements, let me encourage you to join us in watching the Good Friday service but do not take the elements.
Let me offer a little more advice. Husbands and dads use this time to shepherd your wife and family. God has called you to lead your family as the pastor/shepherd of your home. Treat this as a holy moment. Lead your family well. Talk to your family about why we do this. Our Good Friday video will be uploaded at 6:00 pm on Good Friday. Teach your family, lead them in worship, and serve them in this holy time. If you are single, please allow me to be your shepherd as if we were together. I will walk you through the elements and take the Supper with me.
One of my prayers is through this Supper on Good Friday, our hearts will joyfully and faithfully join the heavenly chorus in joyful worship to God. I also pray, taking this Lord’s Supper scattered but united, will place a deep hunger in our hearts for the day we will no longer be scattered but will enjoy the Lord’s Supper together for the first time since “Safer-at-Home.” Further, I can think of no better way to remind us that though we are scattered, we are united in the Body of Christ.
We will use a “Fellowship Cup” that contains both the wafer and juice. You will need to pick these up this week at the church. More details about this will follow. Join us Good Friday, April 10, at 6:00 pm.