Separate and Apart

A number of years ago, I heard a man at the Lord's table say as the plates for the contribution were about to be passed, "And now, separate and apart from the Lord's Supper, we will contribute of our means".
That sounded good to me for I felt that you certainly would not want to mix the two. This practice caught on all over the brotherhood. Some places had the contribution at the close of the service and the Supper at the beginning so as not to confuse the two.
But as I think back on this, I cannot ever remember anyone who ever got confused about the Supper and the contribution. And as I think about it now, I think that it might be real good for some of our members throughout the brotherhood to get the two a little mixed up.
What would be wrong in thinking about the suffering and death of our sweet Lord Jesus on the cruel cross for us individually as we drop our collection into the plate?
What would it hurt to say to ourselves, "God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son . . ." as we put a few dollars into God's collection? What harm in thinking about the New Covenant that we have entered into with Jesus that was sealed by His precious blood at that moment on that cross? That Covenant that guarantees us eternal life in eternity and joy and bliss right here and now? It is nice to think about what He has given us while we give to Him!
We do not exclude the thoughts of the cross from our preaching or class lessons. At least, I hope we do not exclude the scenes of His death from our songs as we worship. And we certainly mention this time and again in the prayers that we pray together. Why separate the heart of the Gospel from our giving? Why think that one is spiritual and one is physical?
What would it do to our giving if all of us thought long and earnestly about Jesus on the cross just before we put our expression of love to Him in the collection plate? You know what it would do!
Let's not separate Jesus on the cross from any part of our living and especially not giving.
Harvey Porter

The preceding was an article that I received via e-mail from a cousin who preached for 40 plus years. I think back to a time when I was in a congregation that dimmed the lights for the Lord’s Supper, and then turned them back on when it was time for the contribution.
I must question myself, constantly about where my heart is for the Lord’s Supper. If I am thinking of things other than the crucifixion of our Savior for my sins, I am denying the importance of Christ’s sacrifice.
As to the “separate & apart” ideology, when we are writing our checks out during the fruit of the vine, how separate is that? When we rummage around for the cash during the communion; that is not apart.
I would like to challenge you to prepare yourself for the Lord’s Supper the night before, by preparing not only your heart and mind for worship, but by preparing your mind to recognize Christ’s offering to you. In reality, the time set aside can be seen as a two part offering. During the bread and the fruit of the vine, we are pledging our love and devotion to God, and that we remember the price that was paid for us. During the offering, we are saying that all that I own I offer to you Lord God.
So maybe next time, you can have your check written out before you get to the building, or maybe put your money inside your Bible at a scripture that you have selected to read to “prepare your mind.” Whatever the case, we need to understand that the Blood of Christ touches the entire fabric of our lives, not just bits and pieces separately and apart.


Anonymous said…

As a little kid, I always thought there were three parts to communion. I have always called the Lord’s Supper communion and when I said this one time someone told me “you must have been raised Catholic”. I said “No, I was raised in the Christian Church/Church of Christ.” The man proceeded to argue with me that it couldn’t have true because “we call it the Lord’s Supper.” I told him that was nice but did it really matter what you called it as long as you were focused on what we should be focused on. That happened not too long after Diane and I were married. Another incident that I remember as a kid, was that we moved to Valparaiso, there was one elder (I say that he was an elder in title only because he did not meet the Biblical qualifications of an elder in any way shape or form and in fact he once made the statement that “this is my church and I’ll run it the way I see fit” and we left not too long after that) who came unglued if the offering plates were placed on the same table as the bread and the wine. I never under stood this. He had made comments that since Jesus was betrayed for money he did not want filthy lucre defiling the communion implements. I always thought the communion was really a good term because it was a time of focused communing with God the Father and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Maybe the Lord’s Supper is separate and apart from the offering but all of it belongs in communion. During the Lord’s Supper we focus on Jesus and during the offering we get to respond, not in a “we are paying for salvation” type of way but like Christmas when we exchange gifts. I love Christmas because I am deeply sentimental. I love to get together with family and friends and remember about past times and all the fun we have had together. I love to exchange gifts, not because I like to get things which I do, but the biggest thrill I get is to watch people especially my kids open their gifts with such excitement. Then I open the gifts that they got me and watch them experience the joy of giving. Communion to me is Christmas every week. We get to remember Jesus and what He has done for us, for the greatest gift salvation through His death and resurrection, and He gets to watch our faces and our hearts as we “open” this gift again. Then we as His children get to give back and as children we get to experience the joy in giving. While I confess that too often I am not in the “Christmas Spirit” during communion, that is what I strive for each time.

David Dold

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