Experiencing the Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11:23-27
1 John 1:5-10 & John 8:12
A church had an unusual ritual every Sunday morning. Before the church sang the Doxology, they would stand up, everyone turned to the right facing a blank white wall, and they sang. Every Sunday without fail they did this. A newcomer to the church was confused by this and asked, “Why do you do this?”
No one knew. The only answer they could come up with was, “We’ve always done it this way.” But that answer did not satisfy the newcomer. Other people were asked the same question. Finally an elderly man who had gone to church longer than anyone else remembered the reason.
It seems that at one time they didn’t have hymnals and the words to this song were painted on the large white wall. Everyone stood, turned to the right facing the wall and sang. Over the years the words faded and the wall was repainted numerous times yet no one remembered the significance for standing and turning toward the wall.
Some things that we do are done by rote. Do you do anything by rote? You know what I mean; those things we do out of habit and we just do it out of a routine. Have you ever driven someplace and after getting there wondered how you got there? If I don’t remember passing the Canvass Post Office I go by the way of Craigsville for a while. The word rote means to do something out of a habit or routine. Rote can be defined as mechanical or unthinking routine or repetition. Some things we do by rote in the church: The Lord’s Prayer – try writing it out – we do it by rote. Or how about Communion – the Lord’s Supper – do we participate in the Lord’s Supper out of routine or do we do this in remembrance of Christ?
The words, "Do this in remembrance of me," are well known to everyone. The words are carved into the front of Communion tables across the face of this planet. The words are quoted and sung. They're mentioned twice in the passage of Scripture that Michael is going to read from 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NIV)
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 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." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
I have many different thoughts and emotions when it comes to communion. I think it is very presumptuous to declare that we are having communion. How can we be so sure that we are having communion?
What right do we have to say that just because we took communion today that we will experience communion?
Have you ever considered the names used for the sacrament and the verbs employed to implement them?
We speak of observing / celebrating the Lord’s Supper
Pastors serve the elements
And you receive the bread and cup.
When we use the word communion we say that we take it or receive it.
- Let us take a look at the words we use when we come to the communion table.
- Communion = fellowship. It comes from the Greek word koinonia. You can do many things to communion / fellowship, but you can’t take it or serve it. The fact is that we can eat a piece of bread and drink of the cup but that does not assure us of fellowship with God or with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. You can experience it fellowship or communion.
- Fellowship means relationship – between us and Christ and us and others in the family of God.
- Relationship based on Christ’s forgiveness
- We have to accept Christ’s offer for fellowship.
- The Word Sacrament stands for a visible sign of a deep invisible bond. The elements of the service are an outward sign of Christian fellowship:
- The Offering
- Our Times of Prayer
- The Word
- The spoken Word are all part of fellowship.
- The danger is that we may observe the outward signs of worship without experiencing the inner bond of fellowship with Christ and other Christians and then there is no real communion.
- How then do we experience real communion? John tells us that true fellowship comes in the word “if.” 1 John 1:7 - But ifwe walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. When we walk in the light we have communion / fellowship with Christ.
- The word But and if together are very potent combination of words. The word but is one of the most powerful words in the English language.
- I can tell you that you did a fine job and then use the word but and you will remember everything after the word but.
- This time though the word but introduces a condition that we have a choice to live in - if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
- We have a choice to have fellowship with one another or not and we can make the choice of whether we are going to be purified.
- When we walk in the light of Christ we then are going to have fellowship with others and Christ’s blood will purify us. Simply the light provides two important ingredients in our relationship with the Lord. It endows us with fellowship and purification / cleansing.
- Let’s first look at the purification process first.
- Christ’s light illumines who we are with all our distortions, blemishes, and defenses that we have. Christ’s light is powerful enough to look even in the corners of our life.
- This is both frightening and releasing at the same time.
- In other words Christ’s light uncovers the messy parts in all our lives. What part is it that Christ’s shines His light on? What is it that we would just as soon not have Christ illumine?
- We will only experience His purification when we walk the light – because the light reveals the mess and need to confess and repent.
- Many times the refining light of Christ goes deep into our inner most beings to expose and then clean up the inner self.
- The revealing light leads us to confession and then repentance – when we confess, we are exposing the problem to God and then turning away from it and real healing and fellowship can take place.
- Christ’s light serves not only as a revealer of our mess but also a light to the way we ought to live. The light provides us a way in the midst of darkness. John 8:12 Jesus describes Himself as "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
- When we follow the Light – capital L we are no longer going to walk in darkness. Christ provides a lighted highway so that we walk with Him and not in darkness.
- The word “follow” means a soldier following his captain or slave accompanying his master – doing everything his master wants. Are we following the Master?
- It also means following wise counsel from a teacher. All three comparisons are useful in understanding what it means to walk in the Light.
- We are to follow the Commander and Chiefs orders. We are bound to follow the Master’s directives and we are to follow the wise counsel of the Lord. It is giving of our whole being – body, strength, mind, emotions, and spirit to Christ as Lord – the path He provides is well lit. Christ lights up Himself as the example to follow.
- His light provides us with what we need to see how to live in this world.
The Communion is a means of participating with Jesus in his death and resurrection now. “Jesus, I’m with you. I’m standing at the cross with you. I’m hanging on the cross with you. I’m coming out of the tomb. I’m with you. You’re with me.” Communion is participation.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.