London 23 June 2016
May the Peace of God reign in our hearts! Amen
The Council of Elders in the United Kingdom in communion and unity with the Council of Elders in Brazil and other countries has approved the proposed new process for serving the Holy Supper to the brethren in our churches.
This change to the traditional process for serving the Holy Supper, which is one of the most holy commandments given to the Apostles by the Lord Jesus, was very carefully considered by the elders over many years. God has now confirmed to the elders that this is the correct time to introduce and implement this “change in tradition” to our brethren. This “change in tradition” does not deviate in any way from the doctrine delivered to the saints from the founding of the church of Christ.
The “change in tradition” that has been approved by the Council of Elders is regarding the serving of the cup, which is most accurately defined as the “communion of the blood of Christ”. There are many passages in the Holy Scriptures which clearly identify that the “Cup of the Lord Jesus”, was not a physical cup but referred to His agony, intense suffering, torment and death. This is the cup that the Lord spoke of in his prayer in the garden when he said; “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39). This was that cup of punishment, previously reserved for mankind, due to their rebellion, guilt and sin toward God, which Jesus took for our Salvation.
To drink from the Lord’s cup in the Holy Supper is to participate in His afflictions, to renounce ourselves, to take up the cross and to follow Him. That is why, when instituting The Holy Supper, taking the cup he said: “…This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20) When we participate in the Holy Supper, the cup we drink reminds us of the Lord’s afflictions, pain and death. Jesus was willing to shed His blood on the cross of death, to drink the cup of punishment that rightfully belonged to us.
Brethren, in reviewing the gospels which relate how the Holy Supper was instituted by the Lord Jesus we find the following scriptures; “And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.”(Mark 14:23). The importance here is that the Word does not say that the disciples all drank from the same cup, but that they all drank of the content of the cup. In the gospel of Matthew 26:27,28, Jesus “…. 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.” His command for all to drink of it was not about the physical cup, but rather about the communion of those who would participate with his suffering and the new covenant with God that His blood would establish for the many who would believe and accept His sacrifice for them. Finally in Luke 22:17 we read, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves;” The Lord’s command was to share the contents of the cup by dividing it into parts with each other. The order given by the Lord was to share and all to drink of it. The “It” refers to the communion with the blood of Christ that was sacrificed for our guilt and sin.
Thus, we believe based on the scriptures, that sharing and drinking of the Holy Supper cup does not require drinking from one physical cup. We understand that certainly at that time in history, given the small group of people who lived together with Jesus in great purity and simplicity, there was no concern with the apostles all drinking from one cup, if this is even how it happened. However, we firmly believe by the revelation and confirmation from God that sharing the contents of the cup into small individual cups does not deviate from doctrine, it is just a change from the tradition we have followed until now.
We know and believe that God revealed His Will to the Ministry in years past, and that today He continues to reveal His Will to the Ministry. The Work of God progresses through His revelation from light to light according to the needs of the church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Brethren, we have explained the spiritual part related to this change because our first concern is always to be true to the doctrine of the Lord, but we cannot ignore that there is also a physical reality in these days related to the current pandemic and other diseases which can be contracted through the sharing of objects. We are always concerned with the health, safety and well-being of all our brethren, here and throughout the world. We know that God has guided this Ministry, to institute this change to our tradition, which does not deviate from the doctrine, but provides a higher level of safety for all the brethren to participate in the Holy Supper Services.
From this date and continuing into the future, the part of the Holy Supper related to serving the cup will utilize small individual cups for the brethren to drink from. This will provide greater safety from possible contamination and most importantly does not deviate from the Word of God.
We reiterate, that in the present time and, in the face of this current and future pandemics, we need to practice proper hygiene and observe proper sanitary procedures in relation to the way we serve the Holy Supper, not only the content of the cup, but also in the way we serve the bread. We are in no way deviating from the doctrine, we are just adjusting our tradition.
Your brothers in Christ, Council of Elders in Brazil and in the United Kingdom