The chalice and St. Andrew’s Cross, symbol of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was adopted by the church’s 1971 General Assembly. The chalice points to the centrality of the Lord’s Supper in the life and worship of the Disciples. The Cross of St. Andrew, national cross of Scotland, focuses attention on the Presbyterian roots of the Disciples. St. Andrew has been identified with the laity and with evangelism, both of which have been prominent Disciples’ emphases. The color red signifies vitality, spirit and sacrifice.
At The Lord's Table
This page and links are a resource for the Elders and Deacons at First Christian Church. Parts will be passworded for the FCC Elders and Deacons. (addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, calling lists and schedules) Other resources and links will be open to all to help develop an understanding of the Disciples of Christ and the importance of the Communion Service at the foundation of their beliefs and in their worship service.
The Lord's Supper
On the evening before his death, Jesus and his closet friends met for a last meal together (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26 and others) in an upstairs room of a friend's house. It was the time of "the Passover" and the city was crowded with pilgrims from many lands. Jesus and his twelve disciples sought to have an hour or so of seclusion as they ate the ceremonial feast together. The twelve were aware of the anger, resentment, and the tension that had been growing in the city but they were unaware of the significance of the events of the last few days. But, they had a strange sense that some kind of storm was about to erupt around Jesus. The meal proceeded in the customary fashion except there was the washing of Jesus' feet and the talk of betrayal and denial. It was the regular ceremonial meal, but something new and significant was added.
14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." 17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
It is evident that the disciples did not understand at the time the meaning of what Jesus had done or said. They did not fully recognize the significance of the broken bread, and the shared cup. How could they know that Jesus intended this to be his memorial and that through the years and centuries to come his followers were to partake of the bread and the cup in remembrance of him in fellowship with one another.
Disciples of Christ and the Lord's Supper
It was early in the nineteenth century the Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone and their associates began to seek a way to effect the unity of the Church of Christ. It seemed to them that this could best be done if the practices beliefs and customs of the church as described in the new testament were adopted. Thus was begun the witness for Christian unity which has distinguished the Disciples of Christ for more than a century and a half. A restudy of the New Testament led the early leaders to consider the Lord's Supper in a new light. This resulted in an interpretation of the Lord's Supper which developed into a traditional manner of it's observance which is distinctive among Christian groups. There are four Characteristics of the Lord's Supper as observed in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ:
- No Barriers are erected at the Lord's Table-Anyone may participate in the Communion Service heeding only the admonition of Paul, "Let a man examine himself" (I Corinthians 11:28) Disciples of Christ insist that "This is the Lord's Table. It is not ours to invite or exclude.
- Disciples observe the Lord's Supper every Sunday-From the study of the New Testament, early church leaders believed that the Lord's Supper was observed frequently as early Christians met for worship and prayer (Acts 2:42). Many argue that weekly communion lessens the meaning and importance. The Disciples however, believe that the frequency of the service grows and deepens it's meaning and importance.
- Simplicity is used in the observance of the Lord's Supper-No uniformity is followed by various congregations, yet there is a similarity of custom so a Disciple going from one congregation to another will feel comfortable and familiar with the service.
- The Lord's Supper is usually conducted by lay men and women-This is more distinctive with the Disciples of Christ than any of the other characteristics. There has never been a strong sense of difference between the clergy and the laity among Disciples. It is usually the Elders and Deacons that preside at the Lord's Service (sometimes as equals along side the clergy) and administer the elements to the congregation including the clergy.
The work of the Elder and the Deacon at the Communion Service is paramount and in small churches and large churches, the Elders and the Deacons prepare the elements and conduct the service. Thus is symbolized the equality of all people before the throne of God. (excerpts from The Elder at the Lord's Table by Thomas Toler.