An insightful participant in a recent worship class asked a question pertaining to last months‚Äô blog submission. "If we are to see the Passover as an example of the Sacred Assembly with the covenant renewal components of Word and Sign, and if that remembrance is annual, why then is the Christian Sacred Assembly every week?" This is a marvelous question. Allow me to offer some possibilities and let me know what you think.
First, consider Luke 24. On Resurrection Sunday, Cleopas and the other disciple sat down with Jesus at the table. They were completely unaware of who He was. When He followed the ‚Äúinstitution narrative‚Äù formula for breaking the bread, (He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave to them) ‚Äútheir eyes were opened,‚Äù and later they said that they, ‚Äúknew Him in the breaking of the bread.‚Äù How interesting that at the very moment they recognized Him in the bread, He disappeared from them bodily. Could it be that Jesus was helping them and us to understand that it is at His Table and in the bread that we will now ‚Äúrightly discern the Body of Christ‚Äù (1 Corinthians 11:29)?
Second, Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 5:7 "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast..." This feast is the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist. Twenty years before Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, at the birth of the church, Acts 2:42 indicates that the people dedicated themselves to the "apostles teaching" (fellowship, prayer) and "breaking bread." Breaking bread, a euphemism for the Lord's Supper, would have been celebrated in the context of an agape feast. This was their practice each time they met ‚Äì which according to verse 46 was daily. Perhaps the Lord‚Äôs admonition to pray, ‚ÄúGive us this day our daily bread,‚Äù coincides. Moving on, note the two early church documents below that sound very similar to Acts 2 and demonstrate a weekly celebration.
The Didache' (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) was written at the same time as the Scriptures and was widely read in worship in the first century. "Concerning the Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day,‚Äù Didache' has this to say in Chapter 14: But every Lord's Day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: 'In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.'" (quoting Malachi 1:11)
Further, Justin Martyr wrote in his First Defense chapter 67, "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons."
Acts 20:7 also underscores Sunday as the day to gather. "On the first day of the week we came together to break bread."
These passages reveal that the Christians gathered to celebrate the Christian Passover feast, every Sunday. In Christ, the Hebrew Passover has been translated from a yearly remembrance of the Exodus out of Egypt, to a daily or weekly remembrance (anamnesis) of the New Covenant in His blood (Luke 22:20). Jesus brings deliverance from bondage to sin, death and hell through His resurrection. Given that Sunday was the day of the resurrection, it stands to reason that the Christian Assembly, complete with the Word and Table ‚Äì the two components of Covenant renewal ‚Äìwould take place on that most blessed day.