Monday, February 17, 2014

Should There be a Messianic Communion Ceremony?

I've always thought it was interesting when I visited Reform or Orthodox synagogues that the Kiddush ceremony feels like communion---everyone ceremonially breaks bread and partakes of the ceremonial red wine.

Question(s):  Should there be a Messianic Communion ceremony?  What should it look like?  Should we simply adapt the Kiddush ceremony for this purpose?  Also, if you have taken communion at a Messianic synagogue please feel free to share your impressions with us.


22 comments:

  1. Great question Peter. In Christianity, the word "Communion" generally connotes a ceremony that aligns with Yeshua's last supper with his disciples, and the meal spoken of in 1 Cor. 11. Most Christians see "Communion" as replacing Passover observance -- "The Jews did Passover; we Christians keep Communion." Thus, I think our focus should be on situating "Communion" in its proper context -- as a Passover meal, and not as a weekly or monthly ceremony.

    I think having a Shabbat congregational Kiddush ceremony, or Fellowship Meal, where bread is broken and/or shared, and wine is blessed, can be a wonderful thing. But calling it "Communion" or "The Lord's Table," I think, only confuses what the ceremony represents -- as "Communion" really harkens back to the Passover celebration (Matt. 26, 1 Cor. 11).

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  2. In my opinion Holy Communion is not identical with either the Kiddush ceremony or the Passover Seder.


    Holy Communion is not the Passover, for the Passover can be participated by any Israelite — whether home-born or stranger — in the proper legal and ritual condition, but Holy Communion is only for that part of Israel which is the Assembly of Messiah. Jews and Proselytes who don't believe in Messiah are excluded from it. It is one of the defining rites of this Assembly, in a similar manner like Water Immersion in the name of Yeshua. It is strictly and only for those who confess Messiah. It is the solemn celebration of Yeshua's sacrifice as basis of the very being and unity of the Assembly (I Cor. 10:16-17).


    The Apostles and the other disciples of the first generation celebrated Passover with the Jewish nation, but they celebrated Holy Communion only with their fellow believers in Messiah.


    Holy Communion is not Kiddush, as can be clearly seen in St. Luke's Gospel, where the institution of it is preceded by a Kiddush, and yet this Kiddush is not part of it, in Luke 22:17-20. It is the cup after the meal, not before it, which is designated as the cup of the New Covenant in Yeshua's blood.


    We here at Messianic613 celebrate Holy Communion as part the Shabbat (or Yom Tov) Maariv, with bread and wine only. And also, in a more extensive manner, as a complete meal, every Maariv of Rosh Chodesh (if it doesn't coincide with a Shabbat).

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  3. Until a person understands the legal person of Messiah, he or she will not understand baptism nor communion.

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  4. Here's something from tnnonline.net on the subject:

    http://tnnonline.net/faq/C/Communion.pdf

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  5. What does "for as often" indicate? Does often indicate often?

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  6. This is an interesting text, found only in Paul's account of the institution of the Supper. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (I Cor. 11:26)

    I have seen it explained by some Messianics as an indication that the Lord's Supper is the Passover Seder. It would say that as often as we eat this bread (the Passover matzah) and drink this cup (the cup of thanksgiving), we proclaim Yeshua's sacrificial death. From this would follow a celebration of the Supper only once a year.

    I think that there are some difficulties with this explanation. The immediate context is not explicitly about Passover. Although everyone knew that "the night in which he was betrayed" (I Cor. 11:23) was close to Passover, Paul makes no further reference to Passover here. In the immediate context, what he says seems related to what follows: "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

    With this admonition in mind, the text could be explained as saying that each time we participate in a celebration of the
    Lord’s Supper we should be aware of its solemn importance as a public proclamation of the sacrificial death of Yeshua.


    From this the words of Yeshua, as rendered by Paul, "this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me", should be explained as saying that as often as we drink the cup of the New Covenant, this should be done in remembrance of Yeshua, because this covenant is established in his blood.



    The Passover explanation has another difficulty, which seems to me rather perplexing. If the Last Supper was a Passover Seder, then why did Yeshua introduce new symbols to designate his Body and Blood? For in that case the symbol of Yeshua's body would simply be the Passover lamb. Yeshua could have pointed to the lamb on the table, saying "this is my body". And he could have pointed to the blood, when he slaughtered the lamb in the Temple court, saying "this is my blood". There would be no need at all for another set of symbols.


    To me this sounds as a strong indication against the opinion that the Supper was a Seder. It rather seems to be something new, which can be celebrated as often as a congregation wants.


    I'm open for good arguments against my position, but from my reading of Paul I get the impression that he considers the celebration of the Supper very important and even of defining significance for the Assembly as the mystical Body of Messiah.


    A key in my understanding is that the Kingdom is not the Body of Messiah, as I already explained in an earlier comment in this thread. In the Kingdom the celebration of the Lord's Supper and the administration of Baptism will cease. But the Passover will go on. So the Lord's Supper cannot be simply the Passover.


    Perhaps I bring up too many things at once, and, as I said, I'm open for good arguments against my position.

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  7. I think there's confusion here. When I said the Kingdom is not the Body of Messiah, I meant to say that the Kingdom of the 1000 years, the Kingdom Age, as it is commonly called, is not the same entity as the mystical Body or Assembly of Messiah.


    This doesn't exclude that the Assembly of Messiah is part of the Kingdom. It certainly is.


    Proof: Persons living in the Kingdom Age are simply subjects of Messiah by birth. They don't enter the Kingdom — except the first generation — by faith. During the Kingdom Age there won't be a distinct congregation of believers. But the Body or Assembly of Messiah which exists now is only for believers, who enter in by faith, accompanied by Baptism in Yeshua's name.


    During the Kingdom there will be no Baptism in Yeshua's name. This doesn't make sense, since nobody will have a choice. Everyone will have to obey Messiah on penalty of being put to death. That doesn't mean everyone will have saving faith. There will be lot of unbelievers, as is clear from the fact that in the end there will be an open revolt against Messiah (in Apoc. 20:7-9).


    In general terms: The Assembly of Messiah which is his mystical Body is a faith-based community, and one enters it by a confession of faith. Apart from the first generation, the Kingdom is simply entered by natural birth, not by a confession of faith.

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  8. Your confusing the Kingdom of G-d with the period of 1000 yrs where the saints rule and reign. FFOZ made that same mistake on a number of teachings they did recently.

    The Kingdom is here now, present in the body of the "legal person" of Yeshua. He already has ALL authority in heaven and earth. He is already enthroned, has already been given the name above all names, and proof is: We have the Holy Spirit. The good news of this Kingdom before and while Yeshua was here, was that it was coming as preached before the cross. The good news of this Kingdom today is that it is here. "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." The agents of his Kingdom act on his behalf as witnesses in all the world.

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  9. There's nothing wrong with having a new tradition--even one that has no basis in Scripture. A weekly "L-rd's Supper" could have its place. There are many conceivable rationales for such a tradition. On the other hand, it is also a historical reality that many Christian traditions were created to replace Judaic traditions. But even if the present Christian tradition of a weekly "L-rd's Supper" is rooted in anti-Judaism/supersessionism it might still be a helpful tradition. In other words, the original intent of the tradition doesn't necessarily destroy its potential value.

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  10. I'm sorry, but I find your opinion so fundamentally anti-Scriptural and nonsensical that I decline to continue this conversation.

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  11. I agree with you. While it is necessary to keep Replacement Theology out of the door and do nothing contrary to the outlines given in the Torah, this doesn't exclude later developments. Halacha in Judaism has always developed in this way and why should it be different in the Assembly of Messiah?


    To give an example from traditional Judaism: The ceremony of the Afikoman, as we have it in the Haggadah nowadays, originated in the Middle Ages, the XIIth century. It has nothing to do with Yeshua or the Apostolic generation.


    It seems unavoidable that the faith and practice of the apostolic teachings had to evolve and develop. We see for instance developments in Paul's teaching on the Body of Messiah, which are reflected in his teachings on the Lord's Supper. These development are the result of an ongoing reflection on the unique nature of Yeshua's sacrifice. Paul even calls the Supper the "Table of the Lord", referring to the Temple Altar and thus making the Supper a sacrificial meal. This at first would seem to conflict with the Torah, for how can a sacrificial meal be eaten in Corinth?


    But there's no real conflict here, because the sacrificial nature of the Supper is only present in what it signifies, symbolically, not in what it is on itself. It is a symbolic representation and celebration of Messiah's sacrifice. And in this symbolic nature it uniquely reflects the unique character of this sacrifice, which was itself made outside the Temple.


    As a result of Yeshua's sacrifice, there exists a community of believers which is united and worships on the basis of his sacrifice. No wonder then, that this is reflected in the celebration of the Supper, where the members of the mystical Body are united to Messiah and to each other in a very physical way, in a very forceful and effective symbolism. This unity of worship and celebration concentrated on Yeshua's sacrifice is, according to Paul, itself an effect of this sacrifice.


    To me a frequent celebration of the Lord's Suppers seems only logical, if we become aware of its implicit theological content in all its richness and nuance. There's nothing in the world which so genuinely and exactly reflects and expresses the nature of what we are, both individually and as an Assembly: members and Body of Messiah.

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  12. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

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  13. Another case of development which is very easy to understand and appreciate is the emerging of schedule for NT readings (a lectionary) in messianic synagogues/congregations. This liturgical development couldn't take place as long as the messianic movement remained part of the traditional Synagogue which rejected Yeshua's claims. If Judaism had en masse accepted Yeshua, this development would have taken place within traditional Judaism, or perhaps the NT would never have been written. No need for it in a situation when the Kingdom is at hand. But this is not what happened, and it became necessary for the Assembly of Messiah to prepare for a long future on its own.


    No need to say that this history doesn't justify later Church developments which were contrary to the letter and spirit of the Torah. The Torah remains the ultimate standard.

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  14. The symbolism of the body and blood of Messiah in the bread and wine of this meal, are widely seen as an addition to the Pesach Seder. But I would submit that this could have been the Ta'anit B'khorot; the breaking of the fast of the Firstborn, something Messiah would surely have honored and an opportunity for a teaching moment with His talmidim. I don't see a problem with there being a second rationale associated with this 'break fast' (i.e., the third purpose in fasting is commemorative gratitude), in order to carry it over to a different memorial context such as the Communion ceremony. Your thoughts on this are welcomed.

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  15. Could you perhaps clarify this a bit more? I suppose that by the expression "the breaking of the fast of the firstborn" you mean the non-observance of it because of the festive completion of a course of study (s'udat siyum), which is considered a legitimate reason for neglecting the fast.


    A difficiculty I see here is that the fast of the firstborn falls during the day-time of the 14th of Nisan. The conclusion of this fast coincides with the beginning of the Seder.


    If the Last Supper was held the evening before the Seder, however, then a s'udat siyum doesn't make seem to make sense, because the fast had not yet begun.


    But I may be missing the point that you make, so please explain.

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  16. Hi, Aliquantillus, and thank you for your kind response. When you supposed I, "mean the non-observance of it because of the festive completion of a course of study (s'udat siyum)", I do not. However, I am having misgivings about this line of reasoning myself and have not been able to find sufficient scriptural support to continue in this conversation. I will study further and should I find anything, I'll let you know. Thanks again.

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  17. To what is Christian tradition rooted in?

    Tim Hegg wrote parashot commentary this week that
    illustrates the meaning of our communion although he did not directly make the
    connection it is clear to see. In our communion with G-d
    through Messiah Yeshua, the contribution is made by the head of the
    family. We are clean “by my word that is
    in you.” We each have a membership in
    the “body” the poor do not eat less, the rich do not eat more. We are “sanctified” by the Holy Spirit. We are incorporate with G-d, and our worship
    is “in spirit and in truth.” Proclaim his death, the atonement, until his return. When we eat and drink his body and blood, we proclaim the truth that his Kingdom grows in the earth, and he sits on the Throne of Heaven and he is "invested" with all power and glory. We are not waiting for him to return to asend to the throne of David. He is already ON THE THRONE, there is NO authority waiting to be placed into his person. He already has the authority of the Throne of David invested into his "body".

    Nonsense to some I guess, but this teaching of Tim’s should
    bring clarity to anyone who wants to learn more about why we take communion.

    http://torahresource.com/Parashpdfs/68CommentsTR.pdf

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  18. I am new to the practices and theory of Messianic Judaism so forgive my naitivity but would it be possible to celebrate the body and blood of the Messiah regularly, to remember His sacrifice for us and how we should rely on His strength in our daily struggle with sin. Then do a more elaborate remembrance of the last supper, during passover (or preceding which ever applies), after a large elaborate community supper in celebration of His sacrifice...perhaps followed by 3 days of fasting to reflect on His sacrifice and followed by a truly elaborate celebration and feast to mark His ascension to the right hand of the Father?
    As I mentioned, I am new to Messianic Judaism revival but not new to Christ so please forgive me if I have suggested something outlandish. As a believer and student of the Messiah, I am looking for a home where I can celebrate and observe the same traditions and feasts the Messiah observed in His flesh while at the same time recognizing and celebrating His as both son of God and son of man through the Holy Spirit. Look forward to thoughts....May the Peace and the Love of the Lord ve with us all always! Hallelujah!

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  19. I am new to the practices and theory of Messianic Judaism so forgive my naitivity but would it be possible to celebrate the body and blood of the Messiah regularly, to remember His sacrifice for us and how we should rely on His strength in our daily struggle with sin. Then do a more elaborate remembrance of the last supper, during passover (or preceding which ever applies), after a large elaborate community supper in celebration of His sacrifice...perhaps followed by 3 days of fasting to reflect on His sacrifice and followed by a truly elaborate celebration and feast to mark His ascension to the right hand of the Father?
    As I mentioned, I am new to Messianic Judaism revival but not new to Christ so please forgive me if I have suggested something outlandish. As a believer and student of the Messiah, I am looking for a home where I can celebrate and observe the same traditions and feasts the Messiah observed in His flesh while at the same time recognizing and celebrating His as both son of God and son of man through the Holy Spirit. Look forward to thoughts....May the Peace and the Love of the Lord ve with us all always! Hallelujah!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am new to the practices and theory of Messianic Judaism so forgive my naitivity but would it be possible to celebrate the body and blood of the Messiah regularly, to remember His sacrifice for us and how we should rely on His strength in our daily struggle with sin. Then do a more elaborate remembrance of the last supper, during passover (or preceding which ever applies), after a large elaborate community supper in celebration of His sacrifice...perhaps followed by 3 days of fasting to reflect on His sacrifice and followed by a truly elaborate celebration and feast to mark His ascension to the right hand of the Father?
    As I mentioned, I am new to Messianic Judaism revival but not new to Christ so please forgive me if I have suggested something outlandish. As a believer and student of the Messiah, I am looking for a home where I can celebrate and observe the same traditions and feasts the Messiah observed in His flesh while at the same time recognizing and celebrating His as both son of God and son of man through the Holy Spirit. Look forward to thoughts....May the Peace and the Love of the Lord ve with us all always! Hallelujah!

    ReplyDelete