At the Liberty Church of Christ, we occasionally focus extra attention on the Lord's Supper with a sermon built on one of the many New Testament passages that emphasize the Communion service. But at the Liberty Church of Christ, we observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday. This is typical of the Churches of Christ. With other groups taking Communion once a month, once a quarter, or only on special occasions, why do Churches of Christ remember and declare our Lord's death with unleavened bread and fruit of the vine every first day of the week? This article is written as an explanation.
The Significance of the First Day of the Week
God used the week of Creation as the blueprint for Jewish worship. This is the command of Exodus 20:8-11. Interestingly, no Old Testament passage specifically requires that every Sabbath day be honored, but the Jews understood that every Sabbath was to be honored without exception.
Honor the sabbath day, to keep it holy...
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work...
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth...and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Just as God established a historical pattern for weekly Jewish worship in the seventh day of Creation, God established a foundation for Christian worship in the Resurrection. This act of recreation took place on the first day of the week. Nothing in 2,000 years of the weekly repetition of church history has dimmed this fact.
On the first day of the week...the women came to the tomb...They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus...suddenly two men in radiant apparel stood beside them...(and)...asked them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! (Lk. 24:1-5).
Distinguishing the First Day of the Week
As the message of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection spread into all the world, the rest of the message of Jesus followed. As individual Christians matured and learned all things that Jesus had commanded (Mt. 28:19-20), the church matured and became organized in its doctrines and practices. Part of that maturing organization had to do with the day of Christian worship and what was to happen on that day.
Notice how the popular New International Version describes the day when all members of a congregation are to come together in one place (see I Cor. 14:23). The organization that Paul commanded for churches was that they meet every Sunday.
Now about the collection...Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income (I Cor. 16:1-2).
As the first day of every week took shape in Christian teaching, Communion became a central part, if not the central reason. This is apparent from Acts 20:7. Paul altered his travel plans to make sure he remained with brethren until Sunday: "On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord's Supper."
These and other passages create a doctrine about the first day of every week. We gather (Heb. 10:24-25). We sing and pray (I Cor. 14:15). We receive instruction from preaching (Acts 20:7). We offer our contribution (I Cor. 16:1-2). We commemorate the Lord's death through Communion (Acts 20:7). These activities comprise Christian worship on the first day of every week.
Conclusion - Responding to a Quibble
Explaining their infrequent observance of the Lord's Supper, some have argued that weekly observance can lessen the impact of Communion, that "familiarity breeds contempt." But that's on us! Just as we are not given leave by the New Testament to assemble with the saints only on the Sundays that suit us, we are also not given leave to observe the Lord's Supper occasionally. And instead of adapting the Lord's Supper to our schedule, we need to adapt our sincerity to God's truth by heartily participating with Christians every Sunday in the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine.