The Lord’s Evening Meal: Remembering our Lord as He Wanted Us To!
My sister who lives in Florida hasn’t been going to meetings at the Kingdom hall for over five years. In all that time, no one from her former congregation has visited her to check up on her, to find out if she is okay, to enquire as to why she stopped going to meetings. So, it came as quite a shock to her last week to get a call from one of the elders, inviting her to this year’s memorial. Is this part of some initiative to try to reinvigorate attendance after almost two years of remote zoom meetings? We’ll have to wait to see.
The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses commemorates the Lord’s evening meal only once a year. They refer to this time of the year as “memorial season,” just one more in a long list of non-scriptural terms they use. Even though Jehovah’s Witnesses do not partake of the emblems, missing the memorial is seen as a major rejection of the value of the ransom offered by Jesus Christ in behalf of mankind. Essentially, if you miss the Memorial you’re not really a Jehovah’s Witnesses anymore. It is ironic that they take this view since they attend with the very purpose of rejecting the symbols of that ransom, the wine representing his blood and the bread representing his perfect human flesh, both offered in atonement for the sins of all mankind.
For several years now, I have organized an online memorial through YouTube allowing witnesses and others (non-witnesses and ex witnesses) who wish to partake of the emblems without getting involved in the rituals of some organized religion –to do so privately in their own homes. This year, I plan to do something a little different. The Lord’s evening meal is a private affair, so it seems inappropriate to broadcast it publicly on YouTube. One of the Silver Linings of the very dark cloud of the coronavirus pandemic we’ve all suffered through over the past couple of years is that people have become very familiar with using zoom to attend online meetings. So this year, instead of broadcasting our memorial or communion on YouTube, I am inviting those who wish to attend to join us on zoom. If you type this link in a browser, it will take you to a web page containing a schedule showing the times of our regular meetings as well as the time for this year’s commemoration of the Lord’s evening meal. I will also put this link in the description field of this video.
We will be commemorating the memorial on two days this year. We won’t be doing it on Nissan 14 because that date has no special significance, as we’re about to learn. But because we want to be close to that date since it is the date that many ex Jehovah’s witnesses (and Jehovah’s Witnesses) think is special, we’ll be doing it on the 16th, that’s a Saturday at 8:00 PM New York time, which will also help those in Asia to attend. They will be attending then 14 hours to 16 hours ahead depending on where they live in Asia, Australia, or New Zealand. And then we’ll do it again at our normal Sunday meeting, which is 12:00 noon this time on April the 17th. And that will be, for anyone who wishes to attend, at that time. We’ll be doing it twice. Again, always on Zoom at our meetings and you’ll get that information through the link I’ve just provided you.
Some will ask: “Why aren’t we doing it on the same day that Witnesses do it after sundown?” We have been slowly freeing ourselves from the false teachings and indoctrination of Jehovah’s Witnesses for years now. This is one more step in that direction. The Lord’s evening meal is not an extension of the Jewish Passover. If we were required to commemorate it as some sort of annual ritual, the Bible would clearly have indicated that. All Jesus told us was to keep doing this in remembrance of him. We are not to remember him only once a year but always.
When the congregation was first formed we are told that “they continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to sharing [with one another], to taking of meals and to prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
Their worship consisted of four things: the teaching of the apostles, sharing with one another, praying together, and taking meals together. Bread and wine were common components of those meals, so it would be natural for them to make partaking of those emblems part of their worship each time they got together.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told how often we must commemorate the Lord’s evening meal. If it should only be done annually, then why is there no indication of that anywhere in scripture?
The Jewish Passover lamb was a forward-looking festival. It looked toward the arrival of the true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ. However, once that lamb was offered once for all time, the Passover festival was fulfilled. The Lord’s evening meal is a backward-looking ceremony intended to remind us of what was offered for us until he arrives. Indeed, all the sacrifices and offerings under the law of Moses were in one way or another, symbolic representations of the offering of Christ’s body. All of that was fulfilled when Christ died for us, and so we need not offer them anymore. Some of those offerings were annual, but others were more frequent than that. What counted was the offering and not the timing of the offering.
Really if the precise timing is that important, then shouldn’t we be governed by the location as well? Shouldn’t we be commemorating the Lord’s evening meal after sundown on Nissan 14th in Jerusalem no matter what time zone we might be in wherever we are in the world? Ritualistic worship can become very silly very quickly.
Could it be that the timing or frequency for observing of the Lord’s supper was left up to the local congregation?
We can learn something by examining Paul’s letter to the Corinthians regarding the way they kept the Lord’s evening meal.
“. . .But while giving these instructions, I do not commend you, because it is, not for the better, but for the worse that you meet together. For first of all, I hear that when you come together in a congregation, divisions exist among you; and to an extent I believe it. For there will certainly also be sects among you, so that those of you who are approved may also become evident. When you come together in one place, it is not really to eat the Lord’s Evening Meal.” (1 Corinthians 11:17-20)
That certainly doesn’t sound like he’s talking about a once-a-year event, does it?
“He did the same with the cup also, after they had the evening meal, saying: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood. Keep doing this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:25, 26)
“Consequently, my brothers, when you come together to eat it, wait for one another.” (1 Corinthians 11:33)
According to Strong’s Concordance, the word translated ‘whenever’ is hosakis which means “as often as, as many times as”. That hardly fits with a once-a-year gathering.
The fact is that Christians should be meeting in small groups in homes, sharing meals, partaking of the bread and wine, discussing the words of Jesus, and praying together. Our zoom meetings are a poor substitute for that, but we hope that soon we will be able to gather locally and start worshipping as they did in the first century. Until then, join us on either the 16 or 17th of April, depending on what’s convenient for you and then every Sunday or Saturday afterwards in our regular Bible study and you will enjoy upbuilding fellowship.
Use this link to get the times and Zoom links: https://beroeans.net/events/
Thank you very much for watching.