In Corinthians 11, we hear that some people in that Church were either sick or had even died because they took the bread and the wine in an unworthy manner, “for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.” (1 Cor. 11:21)
And yes, for those who noticed, it is evident they did in fact use real WINE and not grape juice, though it is fine for churches to use grape juice if they prefer or regular bread instead of unleavened for it is the “remembering of the Lord’s sacrifice” that is important. (And Jesus’ miracle at the wedding did involve real wine also.)
The answer is quite simple to deduce from the verse quoted above, 1 Corinthians 11:21. The problem was that there were some in that church who participated in the Lord’s Supper as if it was just a meal for them to satisfy their hunger, gluttony, or alcoholism. Imagine how tragic that some were getting drunk at what had become more of a party, while others were going hungry. The Apostle Paul continues, “What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.”
The Lord’s Supper is a time to remember our Lord’s death on the Cross, sacrificed for our transgressions. The Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (See 1 Cor. 23-25)
Though it is clear that one should do some internal introspection of heart and mind before partaking of the Lord’s Supper, we should not be afraid to remember the Lord’s death on the cross for us in this manner as He has said we should. No one is perfect except Christ and though the devil, the accuser, may try to dissuade you from this blessed communion by reminding you of your past sins these are no reason to abstain from worshiping the Lord in remembrance of His great work for us on the cross. Inspect your heart and mind, repent and ask forgiveness for anything on your conscience and remember the Lord’s death as you break the bread and drink the wine.
Those who were sick, dead, or dying because they partook of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner were not in their predicament because they weren’t sinless enough but because they did not eat of the bread and drink of the cup to remember Christ’s crucifixion but to fulfill their appetites.
Also, it is good practice for Churches to mention that only those with assurance of their salvation should partake (if you are living an unbiblical lifestyle and are just going to church to keep up appearances to others, then first repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness), those who have not made a profession of faith should abstain. That is why some Churches have the Lord’s Supper at a different time from the main Sunday morning preaching, as a separate service where generally visitors/guests who are unsaved are few if any.
I have found that the Lord’s Supper can be one of the most uplifting experiences where the presence of the Lord is supernaturally felt. Many times some obscure Old Testament verse would come to me with a correlation to the Lord’s death or resurrection and when I did not get up to share it, someone else a few rows away would get up and read the same exact verse and share the same thing the Holy Spirit had given me. I personally think, if possible, it is best to have the Lord’s Supper each Sunday that a Church meets together.
I have been very discouraged by so many churches that do not seem to cherish the Lord’s Supper and treat it as some quick Greek Orthodox ritual.
In the small Church I grew up in, there was no passing around of the money/donation basket in the main service, it was done during Communion, after the bread and wine (which was usually grape juice).
I do not think it’s a sin not to do it each Sunday (for some huge churches it may be difficult, so it could be done in smaller home fellowship groups), but I think it is best to do each week and not just once a month or less, why miss out on such a wonderful thing!