Devoted to the breaking of bread

For a while now I’ve reflected on the four characteristics of the early church recorded in Acts 2:42. The thought occurred to me that I’m not sure what a church devoted to the breaking of bread looks like. You can make a fair case that the Catholics are because mass is at the heart of their worship, but for a whole variety of theological reasons I’m not going in that direction.

So I’m asking for help. I’m working on the assumption that the reference doesn’t simply refer to common meals together but includes something sacramental.

What does a local church that is ‘devoted to the breaking of bread’ look like? Could you say that about your church? How is it done? How often is it done? What’s the context and variety that surrounds it? Does it get stuck in ritual? Is liturgy used or simply a recital of Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26?

What have been your experiences of the Lord’s supper? When have you seen it done well? How were children included or not? Have you read any books that have shaped or changed your practices? What talks have you listened to that guided your thinking?

I’m looking for resources that are as practical as they are theological, that deals with the realities of regular church life and talks about how to handle it as well as what it means.

Send me links via Twitter, Facebook or here in the comments on the blog. I’ll repost all the resources so everyone can see all the suggestions. If you don’t know any resources yourself, perhaps you’d be willing to repost, share, tweet or in some other push this request out there, because I’d really love to get as broad a response as possible. Many thanks.

Photo by freefotouk

9 thoughts on “Devoted to the breaking of bread”

  1. Jake Belder says:

    At one point in Calvin’s Institutes, he mentions Acts 2:42 in the context of a discussion of the Lord’s Supper, and goes so far as to say infrequent celebration is the work of the devil. I posted the quote on my blog a couple of years ago: http://jakebelder.com/infrequent-celebration-of-the-supper-is-the-d

    1. Phil Whittall says:

      That’s a great quote, thanks Jake! What does breaking of bread look like at Newlands?

      1. Jake Belder says:

        At the major services, we do it twice a month here, once in the morning, once in the evening. There’s some liturgy used, a modified form of what you find in the BCP, though it is quite minimal. People come up to the rail to receive the elements. The weekly 8am service is the standard BCP communion service. Judging by the reactions of people as they partake, I don’t think it’s ritualistic. One thing I’d like to see more of is a connection between the preached gospel and the visible gospel, which is something I try and do when I’m preaching at a communion service. Sometimes it seems as if the communion is a bit of a separate part to the rest of the service.

        1. Phil Whittall says:

          Thanks Jake, I agree that often evangelicals tag it on to the main event so it feels separate. My honest question then to you, is would say that therefore the church is ‘devoted’ to the breaking of bread?

          1. Jake Belder says:

             Well, as an advocate of weekly communion, I’d have to say not as much as it should be.

  2. Charles says:

    I think Tim Chester’s A meal with Jesus has really important and relevant things to say about this Phil
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meal-Jesus-Discovering-Community-ebook/dp/B004V9IFP8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339503505&sr=8-2 

    1. Phil Whittall says:

      Thanks Charles, it’s going on the reading list!

  3. Mick Taylor says:

    I agree with Charles, just finishedTim Chester’s book and worth a leisurely thoughtful read. I’ve also found helpful Ben Witherington III’s Making a Meal of It, I H Marshall’s Last Supper and Lord’s Supper and Communion: A Meal That Unites by Donald Bridge and David Phypers helpful. John Colwell’s book Promise andPresence on the sacraments has a dense but stimulating chapter on communion.

    1. Phil Whittall says:

      Thanks Mick, really helpful. Have you written anything on it, Martin C hinted that you might have?

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