Alan Knox had an important repost Saturday last looking at the Biblical evidence that the Lord's Supper was an actual meal as opposed to a nibble of bread or a small cracker and a thimblefull of wine or grape juice. From The Lord’s Supper as a Meal:
So, what can we learn from this? Does Scripture command us to take the Lord’s Supper as a full meal? No. Is there something special about the bread and cup? There seems to be in the Gospel accounts and in 1 Cor. 10-11. But we should also remember that at times Scripture uses “bread” to represent more than just bread; so even there the elements of bread and cup could indicate a full meal. Did the Christians in the New Testament take the Lord’s Supper as a meal? It seems that they did. Could we be missing something if we limit the Lord’s Supper to only the bread and the cup? I guess we’ll all have to answer that one for ourselves. What do you think?
What do I think? I think Alan is right and that he is on to something that we are missing out by reducing the Lord's Supper to a ritual instead of a community meal. There is something intimate and familial in a meal that cannot be experienced by a ritual. I think that there is something else to consider here. In most churches, if the pastor said that instead of passing the expensive platter and cup holder the church was going to move to the fellowship hall and celebrate the Supper by sharing a meal, I think many people would be quite uncomfortable. It would seem odd and somehow discomforting. Even if you can demonstrate from Scripture, which Alan did, that the Supper was a meal, I think a lot of Christians would prefer to stick with the tradition.
When tradition trumps the text, we have a problem.