Eldon Tenniswood - Breaking of Bread - Elders' Meeting

This is the perpetuation of the Old Testament Passover feast.  It is a beautiful picture when Jesus ate the last Passover feast with His disciples that last night of His life.  “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  They ate the lamb, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke 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.”  I Corinthians 11:23-25.  He was the Lamb.  The old covenant was fulfilled when Jesus, the Lamb, died on the cross.  We like the breaking of bread in a home that is clean and orderly, a prepared home for the breaking of bread.  There was one home my companion and I were ashamed to go to for meeting.  On the front porch was an old broken-down davenport, with the cushions torn open by the dog, weeds around the house partly hid old cans which were scattered around the front and back yards.  The inside of the home wasn’t much better.  My companion and I helped to repair the porch, paint the house and clean both the front and back yards, hauled away all the old junk.  We helped them clean up the inside of the house also.


Some of their neighbors wished we would paint their houses also!  After we had the place clean, we taught them a little about the order of the home for the breaking bread, that it must be clean and orderly, even if it has a dirt floor.  When the Children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness their camp had to be clean.  The priest must be clean to enter the sanctuary or they would die, no one unclean could go into the court of the tabernacle.  I was difficult for these people to keep their home clean, so we moved the meeting and learned later the workers had never appointed that home for a meeting place.


When preparing the emblems, have a nice sized piece of bread, perhaps a slice with the edges removed on a plate or saucer and plenty of grape juice.  We’d like the emblems to be placed in the center of the room if possible, but that is not always possible.  We like to have them where they can be seen.  One time we were in a home where there was a little room, so they set the emblems back in another room.  My suggestion was to take my chair out, and I would sit in the back room.  The emblems are the most important thing in the little Sunday Morning Meeting, as the bread reminds us of the broken body of Jesus, the Word of God made flesh.  “I am the Bread of Life.”  The wine reminds us of His blood which was given for our redemption.  When we give thanks for the bread and for the fruit of the vine, we should be as specific as we are at the table when we give thanks for our food.  When we break off a piece of bread (not just a crumb), we are telling all in the meeting that we are willing for all the Word of God in our life.  This reminds me of the perfect surrender Jesus made of His life to His Father’s will.  When we take the emblem of Jesus’ shed blood, the fruit of the vine, we are telling all in the meeting we are purchased by the blood of Jesus and we are not our own, to do what we desire, but rather to do His will for us.  Because we believe in Jesus and are willing to walk in the light, as He is in the light, and have fellowship (forgiveness) one with another, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.  Sometimes we do not feel like breaking bread because of past defeats.  God has made marvelous provision for us.  In our meetings we sing, pray, and speak.


There is a message for us in every hymn in our book, as well as in the prayers and testimonies of others.  The opportunity has come to examine ourselves, apply the Word of God to ourselves.  Are we willing to put things right?  If we acknowledge our wrong to God and repent (feel badly enough about it to forsake the wrong), are willing to forgive others whether they apologize to us or not, the blood of Jesus cleanses us instantly.  Then we have the privilege of breaking bread and it will be a blessing to us.  It may be necessary after the meeting to go to others and make an apology.  However, if we are not willing to put away wrong things, then the breaking of bread can be a damnation to us, which is worse than if we had never broken bread.


The last night Jesus saith with His disciples, they were all purposed in heart to be true to Him except Judas, who had gone to the chief priests and bargained to betray Jesus.  They all went out of the meeting and forsook Him; they did not realize how weak they were.  Jesus had compassion on them because they didn’t intend to do it.  It was different with Judas.  Before the meeting, he had made a bargain with the chief priests to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  Judas broke bread with Jesus and His disciples, had a chance to repent, but he rose up and went out and it was night, night in two ways.  The night was dark, but after he betrayed Jesus, he entered into the darkest experience of his life, and hanged himself.  If we partake of these emblems and are not willing to put away the wrong and forgive in our hearts, it is eating and drinking damnation to ourselves, not discerning the Lord’s body.  It is good for us to have these truths impressed upon our minds and hearts.  Some in the church in Corinth were weak and sickly and some had died spiritually, because they did not break bread in the right way.


We workers have appreciated the questions you had in your minds.  We may not be able to answer them to your satisfaction, but it will gives us an avenue of communication.  When you have a questions don’t be afraid to come to us; we shall try to answer it or get an answer for you.

WHAT IS THE PROPER COVERING FOR THE EMBLEMS, NAPKIN OR SARAN WRAP?  We prefer a clean white napkin.  Because the napkin is used in the eastern states, Europe and other countries, we think it better to be uniform.


WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO UNCOVER THE EMBLEMS?  Someone suggested uncovering the emblems before we sing a hymn before taking the emblems.  Sometimes we don’t sing a hymn due to the time element.  It would be respectful to turn back the napkin before giving thanks for the bread.  However, this may not be possible because of no screens on the windows or doors to keep out the flies.


WHAT IS THE FEELING ABOUT WOMEN GIVING THANKS FOR THE EMBLEMS?  We like to see the men taking most of the responsibility for this.  If there is hesitation and one of the ladies would like to give thanks for the emblems, that is good.


WHAT IS THE PROPER DISPOSAL OF THE EMBLEMS?  The meeting in the home perpetuates the Passover feast mentioned in Exodus 12.  Any part of the lamb which was left over was to be burned with fire.  The bread represents the body of Jesus and we feel it should be burned.  Exodus 12:10.  The blood of the animals was to be poured out on the ground and covered with dust.  Leviticus 17:12, Deuteronomy 12:16.  We feel it would be best to pour the wine out on the ground.


We prefer to use one cup because it signifies fellowship as we pass it from one to another.  Some feel it takes too long to pass the bread and the wine when there is only one cup, but this is the most consecrated part of the meeting and we don’t object to waiting for all to drink of the one cup.

SHOULD THE BREAD BE TAKEN OFF THE PLATE WHEN PASSED?  In some places they do take the bread off the plate and pass it.  The reason we pass the bread on a plate or saucer is because of the unsaved people in our meetings.  When we pass it on a plate, they just take hold of the plate and pass it along to the person next to them.  Sometimes strangers hesitate to touch the bread and I can understand and appreciate their feelings.

SHOULD SOMEONE WHO NEVER TAKES PART IN THE MEETING TAKE THE EMBLEMS?  We feel the breaking of bread is for those who participate in the meeting.  Romans 10:9, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  According to this scripture, to have salvation, we must confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and the meeting is a good place to do so.  If we are not grateful for what the Lord has done for us, it would be best to not partake of the emblems.

WHERE SHOULD THE EMBLEMS BE PLACED IN THE ROOM?  There is no better place for the emblems than in the center of the room.  This is difficult due to the seating arrangement in some homes, but it should be in the room where the meeting is held.

IS A CIRCULAR SEATING ARRANGEMENT BEST WHEN POSSIBLE?  The circular seating is excellent, but it is seldom possible.

SHOULD CHILDREN PASS THE EMBLEMS TO THE NEXT PERSON?  This depends on the age of the children.  If they are old enough and careful, it is nice for them to pass the emblems to the next person, but not when too young.

SHOULD THE ELDER PASS THE WINE INDIVIDUALLY?  No. The bread and the wine should always be passed from one person to the other when possible, as this speaks of fellowship.  Sometimes the elder must help pass it because of the seating arrangement as the one person cannot reach the person who is to receive it next.

SHOULD THE ELDER DRINK ALL THE WIN THAT IS LEFT?  “Drink ye all of it.”  Matthew 26:27.  When Willie Phyn was here from New Zealand, I asked him about this scripture, as he worked in Greece.  Willie said the Greek New Testament reads, “All of you drink it.”  Jesus desired all His disciples to drink of the cup.  What is left over, pour it on the ground.

SHOULD THE EMBLEMS BE PASSED TO ALL (EXCEPT SMALL CHILDREN) EVEN IF THEY DON’T PARTAKE?  Yes.  If strangers are in the meeting, you can explain before breaking bread what is taught in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-29  This will help them to understand it is an individual choice and the responsibility is upon the person who partakes of the emblems of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood.

SHOULD THE EMBLEMS BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY?  Yes. We would like the leader to take the emblems out of the room when the meeting is over.


WOULD IT BE BETTER TO HAVE NOTHING ON THE TABLE WITH THE EMBLEMS, SUCH AS FLOWERS?  It is best to just have the emblems on the table, no flowers.  Nothing is more beautiful than the emblems that remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus that was given for our redemption.

WHEN YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE HOME HAVE MADE THEIR CHOICE, IS IT ALL RIGHT THEN FOR THEM TO PREPARE THE EMBLEMS IF THEY WANT TO HAVE A PART IN THIS?  Yes, as long as it is done under the supervision of the parents and done right, we have no objection.

WHAT KIND OF A CONTAINER IS BEST FOR THE WINE FOR CONVENIENCE IN PASSING?  SIZE, ETC.?  SHOULD THE SAME CONTAINER ALWAYS BE USED?  Before I visited the Orient, I felt the container should be a cup.  In the Orient, the cup they use has no handle on it.  It is similar to the glass we drink from.  The cup means a vessel we drink from, whether it be a cup or what we call a glass.  It is not necessary to always use the same container; however, if you would like to do this, we have no objection.  The vessel must be clean.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT STRANGERS WHO ATTEND REGULARLY AND PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS?  Someone who knows the party and is in the spirit should remind them what they are doing and explain to them what Jesus taught in l Corinthians 11:23-29.

WHO DECIDES WHO IS WORTHY TO PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS?  Each person is to examine himself and decide whether he partakes of the emblems or not.  I Corinthians 11:28.

IS IT SCRIPTURAL TO PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS IN A PLACE SUCH AS A MOUNTAIN CABIN WHEN A FEW GATHER THERE?  The only place where the bread should be broken is in a home that is consecrated for the meeting.  If you go to the mountains for recreation or a vacation, try to go to a home that has been chosen by the workers for the Sunday Morning Meeting and the Breaking of Bread.

IS IT MORE BECOMING FOR THE ELDER TO TAKE AWAY THE EMBLEMS AT THE CLOSE OF THE MEETING THAN FOR HIS WIFE TO DO SO?  Yes, it is the responsibility of the elder.  If the elder comes to the meeting to lead the meeting, it is the elder’s responsibility to take away the emblems at the close of the meeting.  If someone else leads the meeting in the absence of the elder, arrange with him ahead of time to take care of the emblems.

AFTER PROFESSING, BEFORE BAPTISM, SHOULD PEOPLE PARTAKE OF THE EMBLEMS?  This question was answered for me at a Church of Christ meeting that I attended about 25 years ago.  Two ladies who were coming to our meetings invited me to go with them to their service.  The minister was speaking about Hebrews 3.  He used the scripture about God leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and they were baptized in the cloud and in the sea, and he added, “This day was Israel saved,” giving the impression that the Children of Israel were not saved until they were baptized.  He challenged anyone in the meeting to prove a person could be saved before baptism.  When he asked for questions, I said, “Do you people believe that the Passover feast was a true type of Christ?”  He said, “Yes, we do.”  Then I replied, “You people believe that the Children of Israel partook of Christ, the Passover Lamb, before they were saved.  How could they partake of Christ before they were saved?”  When a person surrenders to Christ and receives of His Holy spirit and has come to the age of accountability and then they wish to break bread and are willing for all the will of God, no matter what it might mean or cost, they can break bread.  Sometimes children who haven’t come to the age of accountability do not fully understand the responsibility of being a Christian and it is best for them to wait until after they are old enough to take that step and I inquired of Jack Carroll.  He told me this:  “The father and mother should bear most of this responsibility, as they know if the children pray and are having fellowship with the Lord.  Get the girls and their parents together and ask the parents if their children understand what it means to be baptized.”  The father said one of the girls was ready but the other one was not ready, as she didn’t feel her need to pray and to be separated from the world.  the older girl said, “I will wait for my sister.”  This is why we feel the children should wait until after they are baptized before breaking bread.  We are not baptized to make us Christ’s, but because we are Christians.

IS BAPTISM A NECESSARY PART OF SALVATION?  Yes, Jesus said in mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

SHOULD THE ELDER STAND OR SIT WHEN HE TAKES THE EMBLEMS?  Perhaps this is what is meant by this question - when the elder who is passing the bread and wine is quite a ways from his chair, should he go back to his chair and sit down for the partaking of the emblems, or should he take the emblems from where he is standing?  Either would be all right with us.

SHOULD A SONG BE SUNG JUST PRIOR TO PASSING THE EMBLEMS?  An appropriate hymn or a verse of a hymn is nice before we break bread; however, if the meeting has been long, we can omit singing and break bread.  An hour and a half is plenty long for a meeting.

SHOULD SOMEONE BE POINTEDLY ASKED TO GIVE THANKS FOR THE EMBLEMS?  It is in order to ask someone to give thanks for the bread or for the wine.  Sometimes I pointedly give my companion a poke.


SHOULD GRAPE JUICE OR WINE BE USED?  We can use either.  It must be the fruit of the vine.  Grape juice is what we customarily use in California.  We like it best because there may be someone in the meeting fighting the alcoholic habit which was acquired before professing, and it is very difficult to take wine without arousing the old appetite which craves for it.  In some parts of the world, it is difficult to get grape juice, so they use fermented wine.


IF THE PRESCRIBED JUICE IS NOT AVAILABLE (ONLY IN EMERGENCIES) WHAT COULD BE USED?  Nothing, it must be the fruit of the vine.  If grape juice or wine is not available, omit breaking of bread.


WHY DON’T WE USE UNLEAVENED BREAD FOR THE EMBLEMS?  Unleavened bread was used for the Passover because all leaven was put out of the house, Exodus 12:15.  Jesus ate the last Passover with His disciples.  In Leviticus 23:15-17, which was on the first day of the week, the Feast of Pentecost, Acts 2, they were to have leaven in the loaves they baked.


                          OLD TESTAMENT                             NEW TESTAMENT

                          PASSOVER FEAST                            BREAKING OF BREAD

l. Preparation      Exodus 12:19                                        l Corinthians 5:6-8

m. Place (home)  Exodus 12:3                                         Luke 22:7-13

n. Number          Exodus 12:3                                          Matthew 18:20

o. Time               Exodus 12:18                                        Acts 20:7

p. Purpose          Exodus 12:14                                        Luke 22:19-20

q. Manner           Exodus 12:5-10                                    l Corinthians 11:23-31

r. Partakers         Exodus 12:43                                        Acts 2:42; 20:7