From time to time questions arise in the minds of some concerning how often the ordinances of the Lord's house should be celebrated. Should this be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly?
Some groups, such as the established churches of various lands, make the communion service available every day of the week to persons who desire to partake of the service. Others celebrate the communion monthly or quarterly. The question has been raised as to whether there is any guidance in the Scriptures or the Spirit of prophecy on this matter. It seems quite clear from the Scriptural record that the Lord instituted these dual ordinances before His crucifixion. He celebrated both during the closing days of His earthly ministry, and gave evidence to show that the ceremony of foot washing and the ceremony of the Lord's supper are ordinances in the church.
While this is so, there is no definite counsel as to just when, or how often, these ordinances should be celebrated. There is perhaps one expression that gives some guidance: that is in the apostle Paul's letter to the church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26 he counsels:
"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."
These expressions "as oft as" and "as often as" seem to be the only indications we have; and the thought conveyed to our minds by these expressions is that of whenever we do it. This, I suppose, may be interpreted to apply as weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually—whichever may be desired. All we have is the expression "as often as." Hence various bodies have adopted different regulations. Some, like the Brethren groups, celebrate these ordinances every Sunday morning; some, like the Baptists and others, every month. And there are still other groups, like ourselves, who celebrate the ordinances once a quarter.
As far as we know, there is no counsel in the Spirit of prophecy on this matter. As an organization, it seems that from the very beginning we have followed the plan of quarterly celebration of the ordinances, and this plan has persisted, in general at least, to the present time.
Doubtless, in adopting the quarterly plan, the early Advent believers felt that in holding the service more frequently there would be the danger of formality and failure to realize the solemnity of the service. It seems it might have been a decision to keep in the middle of the road—from celebrating it too often, or leaving it for too long a period, such as a year.
So, to any question on the matter, we would say that the celebration of these ordinances is based upon definite Biblical evidence and counsel, but the time when these ordinances are celebrated is determined by the custom of the church.
W. E. READ.