Adding Fried Chicken to the Lord’s Supper

CommunionIt’s often been said that if we could add instruments to our singing, then we could add fried chicken to the Lord’s Supper. But I’ve been doing some reading, and it seems that the early church did, in fact, add fried chicken the Lord’s supper (well, lamb was more likely, but you get the point). In fact, they added an entire meal, the equivalent of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and banana pudding.

They had a great example to follow. Jesus added, at least, lamb and bitter herbs. We know this because he instituted communion as part of the Passover celebration, which is a full meal (Num. 9:11).

Luke describes the Last Supper in more detail than the other Gospels. In chapter 22, Luke describes Jesus blessing the cup, first, and then the bread. Luke then records,

(Luke 22:20) In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Hence, the second cup, which is the cup we emulate in our services, was separated from the bread by a supper — a full meal. Jesus could have done this in any order he wished (he was Jesus, after all), and Luke could have edited the account to omit the meal, as the other Gospel writers did. But I think Luke wanted us to read about the meal, because the common meal was also an important institution to the early church.

Jude 12 talks about “love feasts” celebrated by the early Christians. We know from history that many early Christian churches had weekly or even daily common meals called the love feast. Many took the Lord’s Supper as part of the common meal. The meal served multiple purposes. It allowed Christians to share with those in need, it allowed a profound sense of community to form, and it made the Lord’s Supper truly a supper.

Everett Ferguson writes,

Jesus instituted the memorial of himself at the last supper in the context of a meal. It seems that a meal provided the most convenient context in which the Lord’s supper was observed by early Christians. … The Didache [late First Century] also sets the eucharist in the context of a common religious meal. The Roman governor Pliny [ca. AD 110-115] places the Christian gathering for a common meal at a separate time from the “stated” religious assembly.

Early Christians Speak, p. 130. The love feast was an important part of the early church. We know from 1 Cor. 11 that it’s not essential, but we know from Jude that it was permitted, even honored. And the historical evidence is nearly as old as the New Testament.

This fact destroys a number of false assumptions about the Lord’s Supper. First, it’s nowhere required to be in an auditorium. The early church usually met in private homes — with full kitchens and dining room tables ready for serving food. May we worship with kitchens and dining halls? How could we not and honor the teachings of Jude? Indeed, the Lord’s Supper was, in fact, very often a supper. I’m confident the early church would have upset had there been no kitchens available!

Second, communion is not required to be quiet, somber, and ritualistic. The Jewish Passover is often a lively celebration. Neither is communion required to be part of a formal worship event, between an opening prayer and a closing prayer. Rather, the early church often conducted the love feast, including communion, as an event separate from the formal assembly. The social element was considered among the dearest features of the event. People talked and enjoyed one another’s company.

Third, obviously, our theology prohibiting additions is just wrong. Yes, we may add a full meal to the Lord’s Supper. Of course, we can’t add evil things to the assembly. Neither may we add things that frustrate the God-given purpose of the assembly. But plainly permission was given to do the expedient thing. Therefore, we need to seriously reconsider those arguments that assume that additions are always wrong. They’re not.

Finally, the whole “five acts of worship” idea clearly contradicts both Biblical and early Christian teaching. The love feast was an act of worship but an optional one. Therefore, there was no set number of “acts.” We made the rule up out of whole cloth.

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0 Responses to Adding Fried Chicken to the Lord’s Supper

  1. Melina says:

    great article. I don’t always have time to read all the posts here but I keep finding good stuff!

  2. Pingback: Which Gospel? The Gospel of Community (Breaking Bread) « One In Jesus.info

  3. Gary Cummings says:

    Jay,
    I think you have a good point here. In 2002, Faith and I went to a pre-Easter worship at a Mennonite Church. They had a simple common meal, followed by a communion service, and footwashing at the and. That was great.

    Fried chicken with the Lord's Supper is fine, but we would like either a keg of Beck Lite beer or winecoolers to top it off.

    Thanks,
    Gary

  4. coreydavis says:

    You cite 1 Corinthians 11, yet seem to ignore what it says:

    17In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!

    Do you not see that the Lord's Supper being incorporated into a common meal was being condemned? Does not verse 22 teach us that the Lord's Supper is not the time for eating a regular meal? Verse 34 demonstrates this further:

    If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

    Second, communion is not required to be quiet, somber, and ritualistic. The Jewish Passover is often a lively celebration.

    To begin with, we're not celebrating Passover. That may be where the origins are found, but it isn't the same thing as the Lord's Supper.

    23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

    This is a memorial of the death of our Savior, not a party. Why does everything have to be "fun", "exciting" or "lively"? This is when we remember that the most precious life was given for us. Would you have stood at the foot of the cross and applauded, cheered, etc? Again, we're not commemorating the resurrection and victory of the Lord, we're commemorating His life being sacrificed for us.

    It seems that anything that isn't done in an exciting fashion is deemed too boring to bother with. If you think the Lord's Supper is supposed to be a lively good time I fear you've missed the point.

  5. Anonymous says:

    coreydavis, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper having a meal.

    1 Corinthians 11:21 "for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk."

    Paul was upset because they were not waiting on others when they ate leaving others with nothing to eat. Paul was saying you aren't going to starve waiting on others.

  6. Jay Guin says:

    coreydavis,

    Yes, 1 Cor 11 is surely a description of a love feast done very badly. But the scriptures don't condemn the practice done right. Jude was written long after 1 Cor and speaks of love feasts being practiced (Jude 12) with approval. The early church continued the practice for centuries afterwards.

    One point of the Lord's Supper is to proclaim the Lord's death until he comes — and if we don't find that exciting, we've entirely missed the point.

    We've greatly abused 1 Cor 11. Paul's point wasn't that the membership was enjoying too much fellowship. Rather, they were being selfish, not sharing, and not waiting on each other. That's the very opposite of fellowship. Indeed, "communion" translates koinonia, which means fellowship.

    We're commanded to discern the body, and the church is the body. The sin of the Corinthians was ignoring the body — by failing to show love and respect for other church members. But when we take communion as though the other members aren't even there, treating them as irrelevant to our part in the event, we also fail to discern the body.

    "Communion" should be a community building event. It's a remembrance, but it's a remembrance by the body, not by a group of individuals in the same room. We remember together. We celebrate together.

    Jesus took countless common meals with his apostles. Why did he choose to institute communion at the Passover? What message does that communicate to us? Does the fact that Paul frequently compares our salvation to the Exodus say something about that? Is Jesus truly the Paschal lamb? In 1 Cor 5:6-8 Paul commands,

    (1 Cor 5:6-8) Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

    What "Festival"? Was Paul commanding the Corinthians to celebrate Passover? No, he compares the life of the church to the Passover's Feast of Unleavened Bread — life as a Christian is a Festival! And communion is a vital part of that. Indeed, it's symbolic of exactly that — among many other things.

  7. Gene Hockey says:

    I like the points u make. I have been in discussions with some of our elders who say the Lord’s supper is very serious (tear jerker). Which it can be, but it also can be a happy time(Jesus got the victory over death) I believe that there is no wrong emotion. AS LONG AS WE EXAMINE OURSELVES AND COME WITH THE RIGHT HEART. As long as we are in the mind set of “proclaiming Christ return”.
    I have only one question. What do you mean by the “Love feast”. What is it. I have an idea but I think that it is totally different than what u are talking about. My thoughts are in 1Corinthians 11.

  8. Jay Guin says:

    Gene,

    The love feast is mentioned once by name in the scriptures at Jude 12. The practice is mentioned in 1 Cor 11, where it was being severely abused. The writings of early Christian describe the practice as continuing for centuries after the apostolic age. It’s simply a common meal which was routinely combined with the Lord’s Supper. Most churches met in homes in those days, so the meal was taken in a private home. At times, it was separate from the worship assembly and sometimes not. I discuss the evidence at http://oneinjesus.info/2009/06/19/renewing-our-worship-the-love-feast/.

  9. coreydavis says:

    We’ve greatly abused 1 Cor 11. Paul’s point wasn’t that the membership was enjoying too much fellowship. Rather, they were being selfish, not sharing, and not waiting on each other.

    Is not 1 Corinthians 11:34 Paul's solution? Don't make the Lord's Supper part of a common meal and you've removed the problem. Surely we can see that is a logical solution to the problems experienced at Corinth.

    I want to say that I have no problem with the practice of the "love feasts" that Jude spoke of, although precious little scriptural information is available on them. It seems clear through 1 Corinthians 11 that the easiest way to avoid those same problems is to not incorporate the L.S. into a regular meal. Why press the issue when the solution is so simple?

    What “Festival”? Was Paul commanding the Corinthians to celebrate Passover? No, he compares the life of the church to the Passover’s Feast of Unleavened Bread — life as a Christian is a Festival! And communion is a vital part of that. Indeed, it’s symbolic of exactly that — among many other things.

    Are you perhaps using the word "festival" in the more modern sense? When I read Exodus 12 (the instructions for the Passover) I see nothing saying that it is to be a jovial good time, rather (much like the Lord's Supper) it is a time of remembering what God had done for them. This is not to say that no joy can be found in either, but both reflect upon a somber occasion.

  10. Donald says:

    Two things I have changed about the way I view communion
    1) It seems to me the early Christians took communion every time they got together. I know most people won’t take it on Sunday morning and then again Sunday night, and certainly not during the week. I think the Catholics have a better grasp on the frequency of communion in that regard.
    2) A central theme of communion is forgiveness and relationship to each other. Because Jesus has forgiven us, we are to make certain we have forgiven our brothers/sisters before we take part in communion. Each Sunday multitudes are failing to do this as evidenced by the fracturing of our churches, which is probably much more dangerous than failing to be somber.

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