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Keralabrethren.net: General Forum: Breaking of the bread

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# 08001 :  Breaking of the bread

1 Corinthians 11: 24 - 27

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

This would be my last topic in the forum for some time. But as in all topics, the whole point of having it is for growing in the understanding of the Lord. Based on my past experiences in this forum and the topic that is going to be discussed, let me try and describe what is NOT to be discussed in the topic that I would be listing down.

Topics that are NOT to come in this discussion are:

  1. Does the Lord's table have to kept on the first day of the week?
  2. How many breads and wine cups should be circulated? Should it be one or many?
  3. Should the Lord’s table be in the morning or in the evening?

These three things are not to be included in the discussion since that is not base of the topic and it can be confusing.

The topic to discuss is as follows with a scenario

In the course of my travel on account of work, I have managed to attend a lot of worships across India and in some part other parts of the world. It has always been fulfilling and Lord is gracious. Let me list down the practices that are followed for the Lord's table below. These are true scenarios:

  1. The assembly is segregated into three sections (elders, deacons and believers) - the elders only break the bread and wine and hand it over to everyone.
  2. The assembly does have segregation but there is no clear defined seating or place which distinguishes them. Any regular brother who is long term member of the church gives thanks and the bread and wine is passed on to everyone
  3. Same as the first point, but it is generally handled by the deacon.

Please note before I ask the question, is that I am not trying to uproot any practices that are followed. Everything is led by God. My questions are for the mutual understanding of everyone who participates. The questions are as follows:

  1. Which practice should ideally be accepted and how do we justify it scripturally?
  2. There are different ministries in Christ for different believers based on the spirit's endowment. But is this something which is applicable to the table were everyone is seen as one?

These are the questions. Let me stress that I do have a view and opinion on this (scripturally inclined), but I would refrain for the time being from sharing it, since I would like to read what everyone thinks and after that, share my views. We can all mutually come to a conclusion at the end.

Some points before we discuss so that is edifying and a learning. They are listed below:

  1. You can participate in anonymity. Even if you don’t sign off also there is no problem. Nobody is a master here nor do you need submit your birth certificate. You can participate freely.
  2. If your participation means answers which pertains to read the scripture, that is like a teacher who tells a child who enters his/her class telling him/her to read the textbook, all the answers are there. This is not a class room, this is not a study, this is forum - everyone can express their understanding. If they do not have one, it is advisable to refrain from sharing anything at all.
  3. If anyone is not clear about what is written, let them ask for it to be clarified. Let us not judge or make stark statement and let us not get into mindless arguments on who knows what and who is the master of all the languages or the word of God in all the languages.

These are all applicable to everyone which includes me as well. So let the Lord lead the discussion and my we grow.

Regards,

Joe

Post by : paizanjoe  View Profile    since : 12 Mar 2016


Reply by : palatty   View Profile   Since : 13 Mar 2016 7:15:56 AM Close

I wish to add one more point for clarification concerning the usual practices followed in the assemblies. The symbolic elements i.e. the bread and the wine are kept covered even while the elder gives thanks for the bread. Instead, is it not more appropriate to uncover the elements, expose them to the assemly and then give thanks for the bread?

Paulose

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Reply by : paizanjoe   View Profile   Since : 13 Mar 2016 12:11:40 PM Close

Thank you for your addition, but as mentioned earlier, it would better if we could look that the questions that are posted in this forum. This addition could be treated as a separate thread for discussion.

But since you mentioned it. I will give you my two cents (paisa) on the topic. 

I would be put too much emphasis on the covering and not covering of the bread and wine. In many humid and tropical places, it is covered so as to prevent flies and other insects from making their presence felt. There are places in Europe where you generally keep the bread and wine covered in a transparent glass bowl.

I would not give too much significance on whether to should be covered or not when it time to partake. That is relatively a small thing and assemblies can choose how they do it, so long as it done with all sincerity and seriousness. It is a small physical matter.

But, the significant question is this – who can give thanks and distribute? Because that is where the importance and understanding lies. Who could and Who should.

Regards,

Joe

 

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Reply by : palatty   View Profile   Since : 13 Mar 2016 1:44:06 PM Close

Well Joe, experienced and devout elders taking priority in fulfilling the responsibility of giving thanks and the younger ones who are like the "elders in the making" volunteering to distribute the bread seems to be alright. Everything has to go in an orderly way. But in my personal opinion, insisting that only a particular believer in the assembly is eligible to do so or claiming it as his right does not depict a true Christian attitude.

I share an experience with you. In one of the assemblies, there is an elder who is well learned and devout.We all love him and respect him. He is the one who always give thanks for the bread and distribute it as well. He is pretty old. He has an habit of frequently digging his nose, he doesn't give up that even during that short time needed to break the bread. Unfortunately, this elder is admittedly suffering from some ailments as well. Yet the health concious believers do partake from the bread hesitatingly with a precaution that they pick from the deep inside  portion to avoid contageeous bacteria. He can't walk pretty steadily, yet he prefers to distribute. People hold their breath and pray that he doesn't fall.

There is yet another elder who insist that every person who was absent on the previous Lord's day should invariably give an account of his whereabouts before he partakes of the table.In a large assembly of some 200 & odd people in a fast moving city, consisting of people who often have to travel outstation, it becomes so cumbersome and most part of the 1hour 10 minutes that the gathering has for the worship would be consumed in the believers weekly report activities if the elder's instructions are followed by everyone seriously.

I cite these examples not to criticize the practices but just to say-" that which can't be cured is to be endured!" That is part of Christian Longsuffering! 

Paulose

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Reply by : paizanjoe   View Profile   Since : 14 Mar 2016 8:11:38 AM Close

Hello Paulose,

When you gave those examples, it did put a smile on my face. I apologise but it is the slight sarcasm involved which is to be blamed for the light heartedness.

I completely agree with you on the point on what you mentioned in the first paragraph. The only thing which I would add is that, people should not treat it with too much significance. I mean, who should and who could. Then we end up becoming no different from the Catholic or Priestly denomination. proclaiming then, we are all one in Christ by anyone who sits in the ‘high places’ becomes hypocritical.

People today, lay a lot of emphasis on these things which can become ritualistic.  It is because if it is ritual, we are happy to do it, then we don’t feel obligated to do the rest.

Let me give you an example, When I was in my last year of Sunday school which was in 1997. I was baptised by then and was doing my own individual study.  This was a question I asked the ‘teacher’ on why only they do it. His answer was “Anybody can break the bread and give thanks. But I don’t do it because I don’t feel ‘eligible’”. Trust me that was one of the most confusing answer anyone can give on the topic. I was persistent and gave him references on why he shouldn’t feel ‘ineligible’. He discounted my views and said I don’t understand it now because I am not experienced with the ‘traditions’ of the church.  Interestingly, he never taught Sunday school after that year.

The long suffering that one ideally would experience will come from all corners of the world.  But these examples that you mentioned can be avoided, if like-minded brothers come in unity and talk to him about it. If they don’t there are other means in which the message can go through. It is not impossible. Let me put another example which I saw and was implemented in my ancestral assembly some years back.

There is the brother – elder. As you put it, loved, respected, admired etc. All the traits to identify with the elder.  As one grows old, there are issues that come with it. One of it was that, being one of those ardent workers in the community, he gradually grew a little senile in his old age. On most days, he would sit and sleep in front of the assembly. Being an elder, it was very evident since they face the entire congregation. To avoid this embarrassment of people talking, one of the evangelist who actively works with tribals in the area – politely asked him with the brothers if he could avoid doing that, and if not, if he could sit in front, but in a different place. His reason was, there were a lot of people coming new to the faith from different parts of the place and the forest regions, and it was not right to set such examples. This brother instead, ended up accusing the evangelist brother of having a demon having  worked in the tribal area for so long and other random accusations. Not many could fathom what happened and were not in a position to take a step against him at that point. Reason being, he came from an affluent family in the region and all his children are in the ‘US’ – so money power as well. I think after much pondering they devised a way to get the message through to him subtly. They started placing a pillow and blanket and a scriptural note with a word from the assembly on his regular seat. It went on a for few Sundays and surprisngly, he stopped sleeping on all those sundays. And then after while, it seems he relieved himself and started sitting in a different seat, but still stayed wide awake. My point is – Nothing is impossible.

Though this was not the topic. I felt I had to share this with you, so that you could see – the Lords table is about edifying, praying, learning, meditating and worshiping the Lord. If we can do that, the Lord will definitely give us the presence of mind to deal with any situation.

Regards,

Joe.

 

 

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Reply by : joyboy   View Profile   Since : 15 Mar 2016 8:39:23 PM Close

Which practice should ideally be accepted and how do we justify it scripturally?

There is no scriptural prescription as this is a point of order to be decided by each assembly for its own needs and its own circumstances.  If an assembly in location X chooses one way, let them, if one in location Y chooses another let them.  Neither one can point to scripture as an authority in this point, because scripture is silent.  So how then do you justify?  God is a God of order.  Assembly X will say "In my assembly we have decided that for our orderly functioning, we use this method.".  In assembly Y, they will say the same thing because they may have different needs or made different decisions.  

There are different ministries in Christ for different believers based on the spirit's endowment. But is this something which is applicable to the table were everyone is seen as one?

Assemblies who allow anyone to break bread, pour cup, distribute, etc. do not define these as services or ministries, but acts of worship.  By the brethren practice, this worship is spirit led and any born again man can participate in worship. Assemblies who only allow elders and/or deacons to do so define it as an act of service, therefore they restrict it to certain me.  Who is right?  Doesn't matter, scripture is silent on the matter.  Let each make his/her own judgement.

The symbolic elements i.e. the bread and the wine are kept covered even while the elder gives thanks for the bread. Instead, is it not more appropriate to uncover the elements, expose them to the assemly and then give thanks for the bread?

Why are they covered? In India, I submit they're covered bc of hygiene.  no one wants flies landing on the elements.  In the west, they're uncovered.  Again, no scriptural direction.

 

For all these issues, let each proceed according to their own assembly's custom.  No need to cause uproar for change.  

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Reply by : paizanjoe   View Profile   Since : 16 Mar 2016 8:37:35 AM Close

There is no cause as mentioned earlier to break any 'tradition'. And who breaks the bread and distributes the wine is not something which we would be accountable for. 

One is accountable when he/she participates in it unworthily. 

The whole of this discussion is to lay bare t that there is no signifcance to who does what. But in assembies these days, I have observed, when someone actually takes the intiative, he is looked atas if he has committed a sin unto death and in many a case, 'reprimanded' by the elders. (please note, i am not talking about myself, but only what I have seen). Which in turn, is wrong.

The 'priestly covenant' is with all who believe in His name and not only for one section in the assembly. It is like the Levites, everyone may have a different role, but in terms of the tabernacle - they are the only ones who are eligible. We all are considered God's Levites and such discrimnation should not be practiced. 

Regards,

Joe

 

 

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