Understanding The Christian Holy Communion Service (Pt 2)
12/13 September 2020 | Prayer & Praise Services
Rev Stanley Chua
Scripture Passage: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV)
WATCH | SERMON (Video)
(Click on video below)
READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary | There is no inherent power in the Holy Communion (HC) for physical healing and divine health; HC shouldn’t be practiced privately; the church leadership can decide who can conduct HC; and while online HC is not wrong, strict guidelines must apply for the purpose of reminding us to be careful not to normalise it as it may destroy the fabric of the Church community over time.
Inherent power in the HC? The teaching that there is power in the HC for physical healing is dangerous. Scriptures clearly say that the purpose of the HC is to remember Jesus, proclaim forgiveness of our sins, and proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Divine healings can occur when partaking the HC, but this is the result of Christ’s presence and not the HC. We must remember there’s no inherent power in any object, even if it is set aside as a means of grace. We can otherwise easily mistake the means of grace as containing power and end up worshipping it instead of God. God alone is the author of all grace and power.
Practice of private HC? The New Testament shows that HC (and baptism) was always done in the context of corporate worship. It wasn’t done at home by each family or individual. In fact, Paul rebuked the church in Corinth because each of them were starting to partake the HC on their own. HC was intentionally instituted to become the central liturgical event uniting all who believe in Him.
Who can preside over the HC service? Scripture gives little guidance on this. But what appears in gospel accounts is that the conduct of HC has been entrusted to the Church. Thus it would seem to be in order that the Church leadership decides who should supervise and conduct its services of worship as well as HC, whether they be lay or ordained persons.
Practice of online HC? Does the gathering of God’s people require physical presence or would it be possible to gather virtually? The argument in favour of the latter is predicated on the fact that the Holy Spirit can cross any and all boundaries. While this is true, the concern is that with online HC over time, we may no longer see the need to gather physically for corporate worship, which in turn destroys the community of the Church. Note: while the Methodist Bishop has given sanction to conduct online HC with strict guidelines, Wesley is unable to, due to the logistical challenges of a large congregation presents.
(Sermon Notes by Desley Khew)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1. Is there power in the Holy Communion for physical healing and divine health?
a. Over the last 2000 years, what type of healing did the early Church Fathers teach about Holy Communion? What does such healing refer to?
b. What are the three purposes of Holy Communion according to the Scriptures? Read Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and 1 Corinthians 11.
c. According to the speaker, the Holy Communion does not in itself effect the forgiveness of sins. What is his explanation regarding the purpose of Holy Communion “to proclaim the forgiveness of sins”?
d. What sin might we commit if we were to believe that the Holy Communion elements, the means of grace, contain inherent power?
e. What lessons might we learn from the Israelites when they turned the means of grace into objects of worship? Read Exodus 20:3-4, Numbers 21, 2 Kings 18:4; and 1 Samuel 4.
f. The Methodist understanding of Holy Communion is that the elements are not the ends in themselves but a means to an end. What is this end?
g. Do you agree with the speaker that there is no biblical basis to support the idea that there is power in the Holy Communion for physical healing and divine health? Share your responses.
2. Is the practice of private Holy Communion biblical?
a. How did the New Testament Churches practise Holy Communion? Read Acts 2:42 and Acts 20:7,10-11.
b. What was the context of 1 Corinthians 11 passage whereby Paul rebuked the Corinthian church? What was his rebuke about?
c. Do you agree with the speaker that the practice of private Holy Communion is not biblical? According to the speaker, what are the long-term implications or consequences of practicing private Holy Communion? Share your responses.
3. Who can preside over the conduct of the Holy Communion?
a. In the Methodist tradition, who can conduct the Sacrament of Holy Communion? What is the purpose for this requirement?
b. Do you agree with the speaker that even though scripture gives very little guidance on the matter of who should administer or preside over the Holy Communion, nevertheless, what does appear in the New Testament is that the conduct of the Holy Communion has been entrusted to the Church, and is presumably administered by the Church? Do you agree that persons who can conduct or preside over Holy Communion must be sanctioned by the Church? Share your responses.
4. What about online Holy Communion?
a. Whatever positive benefits we have experienced through online worship, we cannot deny that it is still very individualised. What are the subtle dangers of online worship and its long term impact towards the community of the Church?
b. Do you agree with the speaker on the implication of normalizing online Holy Communion? Share your responses.
5. What does it mean when you say you are a member of the Methodist Church?
When you committed yourself to become a member of the Methodist Church, you have undertaken membership vows. By these vows, you are accountable to the local church as Christ’s disciple, and you are also accountable for your prayers, your presence, your gifts and your service to our Church community.
a. Do you agree with the speaker that as a Methodist, we are not free to introduce doctrines and practices that are contrary to the Methodist Church which may cause confusion and misunderstandings in our Church? Share your responses.