History of the Lord's Supper
THE Lord's Supper, a symbolic meal Christ instituted on the night of His betrayal, is celebrated by most denominations at various times and in a variety of services. As the Seventh-day Adventist denomination developed, the sacramental supper became a regular part of the "quarterly meeting." Since members were widely scattered, they met together once each quarter. At that time the membership roll was read, each member gave a testimony regarding his Christian experience, the record for the previous quarter was read and corrected, and finally, if an ordained minister or elder was present, the Lord's Supper was celebrated. (See the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, p. 721.) In general, Seventh-day Adventists still observe the Lord's Supper once each quarter.
Significance of the Lord's Supper
Unseen messengers are present at the Lord's Supper; both holy angels to strengthen us, and messengers from the prince of darkness to try to divert our attention, to turn our thinking from the solemnity of the occasion. So reverent and meaningful is the service that we feel deeply Christ's presence, hear His still small voice speaking to us, feel the Holy Spirit working on our hearts, thus Satan's angels can have no influence on us.
In partaking of the bread, the symbol of our Lord's broken body, and the wine, a symbol of His spilled blood, our thoughts turn once more to His suffering, His great sacrifice, His infinite love for us. The scenes of Calvary pass before our mental eye.
The Lord's Supper is not to be a season of sorrowing, a time to remember our sins or past religious experiences. The preparatory service is the time for this. Ellen G. White states in The Desire of Ages, page 659:
The self-examination, the confession of sin, the reconciling of differences, has all been done. Now they come to meet with Christ. They are not to stand in the shadow of the cross, but in its saving light. . . . With hearts cleansed by Christ's most precious blood, in full consciousness of His presence, although unseen, they are to hear His words, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you."
Communion services should be as refreshing rain, bathing us with renewed spiritual strength. They should put a song of praise and thanksgiving upon our lips, and point forward to that wonderful day when we will hold Communion in heaven with our resurrected Lord.
The Deaconess and the Lord's Supper
The story is told of a deaconess who, having been asked to make communion bread for the following Sabbath, felt the privilege and sacredness that went with this task. On Friday morning she cleaned her house thoroughly. Then she bathed, put on fresh, clean clothing, read appropriate chapters from The Desire of Ages, and had prayer and meditation. Finally, putting on a clean apron, with loving hands she made the bread, a song of praise on her lips.
In preparing her heart for Communion, the deaconess will find help in The De sire of Ages. "In Remembrance of Me," chapter 72, is excellent. Here the scenes of that first communion service are brought into focus. Any chapters following will bring her closer to the Lord. She can be with Him agonizing in Gethsemane, witnessing His cruel betrayal. She can behold that unjust trial, share in the tragic, dark hour when the Son of God faints beneath the weight of a cruel cross and later dies, bearing the sins of a guilty world on His guiltless head. She can shout with joy because of the empty tomb, then rejoice in Christ's words, "I am the resurrection, and the life."
One deaconess will have the responsibility of making the bread. Only the finest ingredients should be used. Scriptures tell us that the bread used in the feast of the Passover and that used in the Lord's Supper was unleavened. The grain was ground entire, white breads now in common use being but a modern invention. Christ is the great Life-giver, but white bread, depended upon exclusively for food, cannot sustain life. Exodus 29:40 and Leviticus 2:1 give special directions as to the ingredients that are used in making of bread for sacra mental purposes "fine flour," "mingled with . . . beaten oil." A good recipe for making communion bread is given below:
1 cup fine-ground flour (preferably whole grain)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup olive or other vegetable oil
Sift the flour and salt together. Pour the water into the oil, but do not stir. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until all the flour is dampened. Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper to the thickness of thick pie pastry. Place on an ungreased, floured baking sheet, and mark off with a sharp knife into bite-sized squares, being careful to prick each square to prevent blistering. Bake at 450 for 10 to 15 minutes. Watch carefully during the last five minutes so that the bread will not burn. This recipe will be sufficient to serve about fifty persons. --Manual for Ministers (1964 ed.), p. 95.
Wine used for communion services must be the best quality grape juice. The juice of raisins may be used if it is impossible to obtain grape juice.
Not everyone is called to the sacred office of deaconess, but those who are should serve in humbleness and love, for, though it is a solemn responsibility, the privilege of working for the Lord and serving our fellow man in unselfish ministry can strengthen character and Christian experience.