I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren Church. We actually didn’t call it a church – we called it the “Assembly.” We didn’t have one pastor, we had men that served as teachers, preachers and the such. Women taught Sunday School. Our Grandpa was SS Superintendent, which gave my sister and I special “privileges.” We write about those in our book of Memoir.
First, there was SS. And, after SS, was “morning meeting.” This was a quiet service. No piano playing at this one. And, in the middle of the room, with all the chairs facing it, was “THE TABLE.” Where the bread and the cup were placed with cloth napkins covering them. Songs were sung from a small hymn book called the little flock. Grandpa had a good voice, often he would stand up and say, “Page such and such,” and he would begin singing the hymn. It was a very solemn service.
The Breaking of Bread
Then toward the end of the hour, one of the brethren would stand and go to to the table, uncover the loaf of bread, pray, and begin to pass it around. Each participating person would tear off a bite of the crusty white loaf. Then, another one of the brethren would go to the table, uncover the chalice of (real) wine, pray, and begin the passing around of the one cup, the “common” cup. Each participating person would take a sip of the wine.
After the taking of the elements, another hymn would be sung and the service would end. The table would be cleaned up and everyone went home.
In this “exclusive fellowship,” “the table” was ‘closed.’ A closed table meant NOT everyone could partake of the bread and wine – one had to be approved. Exclusive. There was another Brethren Assembly called the “Open Brethren” – their TABLE was opened to all who confessed Jesus as Savior. Open.