The Breaking of Bread - Part 5 of Signs and Wonders: 4 Core Values for Today's Church

Saturday, August 17, 2013

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. (Acts 2:42-43 NIV)

Core Value #3 - The Breaking of Bread. Most scholars agree that this phrase is a direct reference to what we call Communion today, or the Lord's Table where we partake of the bread and the wine in remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. The broken bread is a symbol to remind us of his broken body which provides for our healing, and the wine is a symbol to remind us of his blood that was shed for the remission of our sins. The first Church made a point to be devoted to the observance of Communion which they called the Breaking of Bread as a regular and foundational part of who they were. This makes sense because without Christ's work on the cross, there would be no Church. His death and resurrection are what birthed the Church and are at the core of who we are.

There is another element to the concept of the breaking of bread that I want to point out here. Communion is so much more than just the Church celebrating what Christ did for her. It is also an act that reminds us that we must be like him. This is where the power of breaking of bread comes in. The purpose of the Church is to go out into the world and make disciples of all people. The cultural relevance of breaking bread is summed up in hospitality, a welcoming of those outside of your tribe, language group or country as one of your own. This was the hallmark of the early Church and unfortunately is not one of today's Church. In "The Extra Mile - The ancient virtue of hospitality imposes duties on host and guest" by Miriam Schulman and Amal Barkouki-Winter, the act of breaking of bread is associated with hospitality towards strangers and aliens. They write, "The plight of aliens was desperate. They lacked membership in the community, be it tribe, city-state, or nation. As an alienated person, the traveler often needed immediate food and lodging. Widows, orphans, the poor, or sojourners from other lands lacked the familial or community status that provided a landed inheritance, the means of making a living, and protection. In the ancient world, the practice of hospitality meant graciously receiving an alienated person into one’s land, home, or community and providing directly for that person’s needs."

Isn't that exactly what Christ did for us? We were aliens who were desperate and needy and he welcomed us unconditionally and made us his own. He showed the ultimate display of hospitality and now his followers, the Church, were showing that same kind of hospitality with the rest of the world. It is impossible to have an encounter with God's immense love and grace and not feel compelled to share that with the world.

It was in this environment that signs and wonders were done on a regular basis in the early Church. I believe one of the reasons we aren't seeing signs and wonders today is because we have lost our devotion to the breaking of bread. We are religious about celebrating Communion but we leave it at that. We have made Communion merely a remembrance of something that was done for us when it should also be a celebration of what we should be doing for Him. When we start doing that, I believe signs and wonders will follow.
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