Which Church was First?
by Rev. David T Myers
Which Protestant church was the first to stop the unsanitary serving of a common cup of grape juice or wine for the Communion service? One would think that this question was and is a senseless question, but no! All sort of denominations want to be the first to be recognized as being the innovators of this practice. And among those churches, such as Methodist Episcopal, Congregational, and Baptist, are two Presbyterian Churches.
The latter are Central Presbyterian of Rochester, New York and Market Street Presbyterian of Lima, Ohio. May 13, 1894 was the original date for the former. And October 7, 1894 was claimed by the Market Street Presbyterian of Lima, Ohio, to have had the foresight to use individual communion cups, therefore taking away the possibilities of the passing of germs.
Now all of this may be interesting to some, but frankly, to this author, what is more important is the following descriptions of how we take the monthly wine or juice of the Lord’s Sacrament. Consider Larger Catechisms 171, 174, 175:
- 171: They that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper are, before they come, to prepare themselves thereunto, by examining themselves of their being in Christ; of their sins and wants; of the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance; love to God and the brethren, charity to all men, forgiving those that have done them wrong; of their desires after Christ, and of their new obedience; and by renewing the exercise of these graces, by serious meditation, and fervent prayer.
- 174: It is required of them that receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, that, during the time of the administration of it, with all holy reverence and attention they wait upon God in that ordinance, diligently observe the sacramental elements and actions, heedfully discern the Lord’s body, and affectionately meditate on his death and sufferings, and thereby stir themselves to a vigorous exercise of t heir graces; in judging themselves, and sorrowing for sin; in earnest hungering and thirsting after Christ, feeding on him by faith, receiving of his fullness, trusting in his merits, rejoicing in his love, giving thanks for his grace; in renewing of their covenant with God, and love to all the saints.
- 175: The duty of Christians, after they have received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, is seriously to consider how they have behaved themselves therein, and with what success; if they find quickening and comfort, to bless God for it, beg the continuance of it, watch against relapses, fulfill their vows, and encourage themselves to a frequent attendance on that ordinance; but if they find no present benefit, more exactly to review their preparation to, and carriage at, the sacrament; in both which, if they can approve themselves to God and their own consciences, they are to wait for the fruit of it in due time: but, if they see they have failed in either, they are to be humbled, and to attend upon it afterwards with more care and diligence.
Words to Live By:
What a spiritual revival would break out in our churches if these larger catechisms of the Westminster Assembly would be taken to heart and mind and action by the communicant members of our local churches! Pastor: here is your preparation for your people for the Lord’s Supper, and not even before it, but during it and after it as well.
People: here is your preparation for, behavior at, and application from the Lord’s table!
Let us not be caught up with who began the use of individual communion cups, but rather caught up with who in the Church at large and the churches in our communion are seriously and spiritually preparing for, partaking at, and responding to the Lord’s Supper in a biblical way.