The Last Supper

This weekend, Sunday 9th December, we celebrate communion as part of our morning service. We celebrate Communion quarterly at present, in March, June, September and December – on the second Sundays at 11 o’clock.

There’s many different reasons as to why many Reformed Presbyterian churches observe a pattern similar to Bellshill Central Parish Church of Scotland as to the frequency of these services

  1. Presbyterian tradition choose to have communion only quarterly or monthly is they fear the sacrament will lose its special quality.
  2. In centuries past, people could partake of the Lord’s Supper only if they had a communion token or communion card. They earned these by attending preparatory classes (before each communion observance) or passing catechism tests and having elders approve their conduct and beliefs. For Christians from this background, having communion every week can seem to require an impossible standard of preparation.
  3. The Disruption of 1843 caused a great division with the church in Scotland. As a result some 400 (plus) ministers of the church of Scotland joined the Free Church. This resulted in a shortage of “ordained” ministers in both the Established and Free Church congregations. One affect of this was that communion was celebrated less often as ministers had to visit congregations in a rotational basis for a time. In many congregations this in effect meant celebration of communion 3-4 times per year. However, congregations nowadays celebrate communion with much great frequency, some weekly, some monthly, some quarterly, and some on special days in the Christian year such as Easter, Pentecost, Christmas etc. In addition to our four quarterly services, we also have communion on Easter Sunday, Pentecost and Maunday Thursday of Holy Week.

There are four permanent items on display in our church that remind us of communion.

The first is a depiction of the Last Supper in a lovely tapestry which is found in the West corner of the church. It was gifted in memory of David and Mary Inglis.

Underneath this tapestry is a glass display cabinet. Within it are two communion flagons from 1891. The term ‘flagon’ dates from the 17th century and was used to describe any vessel for serving wine. In church, the flagon replenished the communion cups.

In the main window behind the organ pipes – The MacDonald memorial window – the left panel commemorates an early communion service at the very start of the congregation in 1873. A gold communion cup is shown.

Finally, located centrally within the choir box is the communion table. Inscribed upon it is the “This do this in remembrance of me” found at Luke 22:19. These words were spoken by Jesus himself at the last supper.

Right before Jesus’ death, he instituted a special meal for his church to observe. Historically, this meal was called the Eucharist, which means “thanksgiving.” Often today we call it communion or the Lord’s Supper. Although churches differ on how frequently we should take communion, the universal consensus among Christians is that this meal is an important part of our faith.

When Jesus was reclining with his disciples, after breaking some bread and distributing it to them he said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk. 22:19) Many Christians have taken this to mean that during communion, we are to do our best to recollect the story of Christ’s death. We remember the gospel, and as we’re reminded, the gospel stirs our hearts in worship.

When we celebrate communion we replace the blue table cloth, pulpit fall and lectern falls with white cloth/falls. Until only a few years ago, we also dressed the church for communion. This was by having white pew cloths on the hymn boards of each pew, in effect creating a table for everyone.

The tradition of communion linens began in the early centuries of Christianity. They are representative of the devotion and purity of God’s Faithful, as well as the linens in which the body of Christ was wrapped when He was laid in the tomb.

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