As we come together to break bread, the great thought is the giving of thanks at the remembrance of Christ, and to take the bread and the cup, thereby proclaiming the Lord’s death, till He come.
We come together as those desiring to bring our peace offerings, sacrifices of thanksgivings, for the peace offering speaks of communion and the thanksgiving and praise flowing naturally from it. These offerings, under law, were for the Lord Himself, but as the Lord was given His portion, so provision was made for the food of the priesthood, for they had their allotted portion, the wave breast and the heave shoulder. The more that was presented to the Lord, the better was the priesthood fed and nourished.
The Lord’s Supper is never called a feast in scripture, for a very good reason. We meet for thanksgiving at the remembrance of the Lord Jesus, not primarily to feast ourselves. Yet in so meeting, we are fed as the priesthood of old.
In recent years, some have expressed concern at the lack of suitable spiritual food for the saints, when gathered to break bread. But the supper, properly kept, provides soul nourishment of a unique kind. As the Lord is rendered His due and spiritual sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise are offered from devoted hearts there is ministered continually what corresponds to the wave breast and heave shoulder.
What does the wave breast and heave shoulder speak of ? No action of God’s strength is disconnected from His counsels of mercy and grace towards the saints, and the association of the wave breast and the heave shoulder in the peace offerings reminds us of this, His counsels of love and the exercise of His almighty power, linked together. And as sacrifices of thanksgiving are rendered at the supper, we have before us the breast waved – precious impressions of Divine love viewed from every side, and the heave shoulder, – that Divine power supremely demonstrated in the Resurrection at Christ. Rich priestly food! Paul utters two prayers in Ephesians, and we have the “heave shoulder’ prayer in Ch. 1. 15-23 addressed to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, concerning the exercise of His power, and the “wave breast” prayer in chapter 3. 14-21, addressed to the Father concerning love, especially the love of Christ.
For an Israelite on such an occasion to have brought food for the priest only would not have been in order, for thereby Jehovah would have been denied His portion. And if we think primarily of our brethren when coming together to break bread, the purpose of our gathering will not be fully realised.
At the prayer meeting, we meet for “supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks for all men.” At the ministry meeting, or bible reading, we have suitable doctrine, correction or instruction in righteousness. At the supper, heeding that last request “This do …”, we shall, above all else, gather to give thanks, (as He did) and nothing must be allowed to take thanksgiving and the handling of the emblems from the prominent position assigned to them by the Lord Himself.
It is to be feared that in some places, lack of exercise on the part of brethren encourages others to adopt expedients to make up for the deficiency in thanksgiving, e.g. excessive hymn singing. It would be well for brethren to show their subjection to the Lord by being available for thanksgiving and readily as the sisters show their subjection by submitting to silence in assembly. We must not think lightly of our high privilege of addressing to God our praises and thanksgivings at the remembrance of Christ, or be guilty of substituting words to our brethren in place of thanksgiving to the Lord.
Happy is the company where spiritual exercise is shared by all, and every brother is available for the Spirit’s use, according to his measure. Where there is real exercise along these lines, the spirit of worship is so true and deep and altogether blessed that no alternative would be considered an improvement.
He gave thanks … He took bread … He took the cup. THIS DO …