The Eucharist: various topics
About the Eucharist:
The Eucharist is a.k.a. Mass, Lord's Supper, Liturgy, Holy Communion, Holy
Mysteries, etc. The word is derived from the Greek word "eucharistian," which
means to give thanks. It is a main ritual that almost all Christian faith
groups have in common. Most believe that the sharing of bread and wine by Yeshua of Nazareth
(Jesus Christ) and his disciples just before his execution was intended by
Yeshua to be replicated by his followers forever.
Two locations in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) where the sharing
is described are:
||Mattthew 26:26-29: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread,
and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take,
eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to
them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament,
which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will
not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink
it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
||1 Corintiians 11:23b-26: "That the Lord Jesus the same night in
which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it,
and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in
remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had
supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as
oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread,
and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
Various Christian faith groups have different practices concerning the
||The Religious Society of Friends (The Quakers),
and the Salvation Army do not perform the ritual during their services. They
believe that Yeshua performed the ritual at the time of the Last Supper, but
did not expect Christians to repeat those activities subsequently.
||Jehovah's Witnesses observe The Lord's Evening
Meal or Memorial once per year on the 14th of Nisan according to the ancient
Jewish calendar. This is approximately the same time as Jews observe their
second Seder on the first day of Passover. Everyone, whether they identify
themselves as Christian or not, are welcome to attend the Memorial. However,
"...only those in the new covenant—that is, those who have the hope
of going to heaven—should partake of the bread and the wine. God’s holy
spirit convinces such ones that they have been selected to be heavenly
kings. (Romans 8:16) They are also in the Kingdom covenant with Jesus.
(Luke 22:29)." 1
During 2006, of the over 16 million who attended the memorial of Christ's
death, only 8,524 Witnesses were recorded as partaking of the bread and
||The vast majority of Christian faith groups observe the Eucharist in
some form. Some restrict the ritual to church members only -- typically
those who have been baptized and confirmed. Some allow adherents to partake
of the ritual. Some allow members of other faith groups to join in. For
example, the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches allow their
members to join in the Eucharist in each other's churches. But Roman Catholics do not
allow members of Protestant, Anglican and other non-Catholic denominations to partake,
since they do not regard those groups as "churches in the proper sense." Other faith
groups also reserve the Eucharist to their own followers and refuse permission to members of other denominations.
Sharing the Eucharist among all Christians:"
A scandal within Christianity is the division of the religion into tens of
thousands of denominations and faith groups who teach different beliefs,
perform different practices, and often do not regard eacth other as legitimate
Christians. One symbol of this
division is that many denominations refuse the Eucharist to those from other
Except perhaps for a few years between the execution of Yeshua of Nazareth
(circa 30 CE) and the start of Paul's ministry (circa 36
CE), the Christian religion has never been unified.
||Throughout the second half of the first century CE, the Christian religion was divided into
three main main
religious movements: the Gnostics, Jewish Christians, and Pauline
Christians. The Jewish Christians, headed by James the "brother" 2 of Yeshua and including
Peter among their leaders, were scattered by the Roman Army circa 70 CE. Gnostic Christians still survive today. All of the rest of today's
Christian faith groups trace their history back to the Pauline Christian
||Currently, there are over 1,200 Christian denominations in North
||According to David Barrett et
al, editors of the "World
Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions -
AD 30 to 2200," there are 34,000 separate Christian groups in the world.
Various umbrella groups including the World Council of Churches (WCC),
National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC), the National
Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the Roman Catholic
Church and tens of thousands of other Christian
faith groups recognize the scandal of division and agree in principle that only
the unity of Christianity would fulfill Yeshua's goal, as expressed in the
Gospel of John:
John 17: 20-23: Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also
which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as
thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:
that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou
gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in
them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the
world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast
Some progress towards unity can be detected, although there is a long way to
Hope of the World Council of Churches concerning a shared Eucharist:
On 2008-JAN-25, an interview with Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, the head of the
World Council of Churches, was published in the front page of the Vatican
newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. He promoted the concept of full sharing
of the Eucharist among
all denominations by the middle of this century.
Kobia is quoted as saying:
"My vision for the ecumenical movement is that by the mid-21st century we
will have reached a level of unity such that Christians everywhere
regardless of their confessional affiliations, can pray and worship together
and feel welcome to share in the Lord's Table at every church. ... By this
example, the church can help humanity to overcome all divisions and people
of the world be able to live together in peace and harmony regardless of
their backgrounds and identities. ... Ecumenical cooperation and the search
for unity among the churches has definitely played a role in overcoming the
heritage of two world wars and building peaceful relationships in Europe.
... Who would have thought at the beginning of the last century that only
some decades later Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformed, Methodists,
Baptists and churches of other traditions would be working together in the
World Council of Churches? ... Surely, the Second Vatican Council was a
watershed and opened the door to meaningful ecumenical co-operation between
the Roman Catholic Church and many of the member churches of the WCC."
Maria Mackay of the Christian Post wrote:
"His comments preceded an important meeting with Pope Benedict on JAN-25,
and an ecumenical prayer service on the same day to mark the end of the
100th annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. ..."
"Catholics, however, are skeptical that shared communion will become a
reality any time soon. Despite Kobia’s article hitting the Vatican
broadsheet’s front page, the Pope made no reference to it in his address,
saying simply that he hoped Christian unity 'will be ever more fully
realized in our time'." 5
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "What Does The Bible Really Teach?," Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
of Pennsylvania, (2005), Page 207.
Note: Christian faith groups differ concerning
the relationship of James and Yeshua; most
believe that they were full brothers; some say he was a step brother from
Joseph's former marriage; others believe that he was a friend of the family
or a cousin.
J. Gordon Melton, Ed, "The Encyclopedia of American Religions,"
6th edition, Gale Group, (1998). Read
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
David B. Barrett, et al., "World Christian Encyclopedia
: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the
Maria Mackay, "Kobia Advocates Full Communion among All Denominations,"
Christian Post, 2008-JAN-27, at:
Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2008-JAN-29
Latest update: 2008-JAN-29
Author: B.A. Robinson