Archive for the ‘Lord’s Supper’ Category

He Is Not Ashamed Of You

December 15, 2007

Heb 2:10-11

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

What a wonderful statement: he is not ashamed to call them brethren! Do you realize that Jesus Chris is not ashamed of you? For the one being sanctified and the one who sanctifies are one. They are united together in such a way that for God to be ashamed of you would declare that He was ashamed of His own Son.

This bread and wine are laid out before you and you are invited to the table by a Savior who is not ashamed to sit and eat with you. But I am a sinner you say and rightly so! But, when Jesus was accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners such as us, Jesus replied that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. He did not come to those who are well, but he offers healing grace in this bread and wine to those with the mortal sickness of sin.

So come to the table you baptized, believing sinners. He is not ashamed to have you here. Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.

Devils Are Whispering

December 9, 2007

Devils are whispering this morning: “You are not worthy,” they say. And you know what? They are right. There is often a bit of truth behind the teeth of a demon. But, this bit of truth is the reason for the table and not a reason to keep away from it.

You see here is the thing about devils, they have impeccable timing. They don’t whisper at the beginning of the service. They make no mention of your sin when you are called to confession. They are perfectly happy to have you think about last night’s game or better yet, the sin of your neighbor. That has a veneer of spirituality about it. Anything but true confession as you enter into worship.

We don’t want you to get to this moment and suddenly become aware of your unworthiness; thereby, keeping you away from the very means of grace He provides to overcome the whispering devils and doubts. God, by his grace, cleanses you from all sin and the Lord Jesus Christ sprinkles You with His blood, washing you whiter than snow. He did that at the beginning of the service.

This table is the seal of the favor of God. It is an announcement to you that by faith all the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus. This is the place of joy and fellowship. This table drives away devils and doubts. Your Savior meets you here and He whispers words of peace to you. So, listen to the voice of Your Lord. Ignore the devils, they speak too late. Come taste and see that the Lord is good

al sends

Fools of the World

November 26, 2007

When the pastor stands behind this table and invites all baptized, believing sinners to come and take up the bread and the wine, the pastor is speaking for Christ Jesus. It is the invitation of Christ Himself that goes out in the pastor’s voice.

And when we as a congregation come to this table, we sit at the feet of an unseen Savior. This table, in fact, pictures a Savior whom no one can see, yet we see Him by the eyes of faith, trusting in His finished work on the cross brought to us through broken bread and poured wine.

Now, how would unbelieving people out in the world, or even unbelieving folks in the church, for that matter, view these things? They would probably see the pastor as presumptuous and the congregation as foolish. You, pastor, would dare to speak with the voice of the God of the universe? And you, congregation, would be so gullible as to believe that a Christ who died 2,000 years ago, whom no one here has seen, sits and sups at this very table with you? And that this man Christ Jesus alone is the life of the world?

We are the fools of the world. Our humility is the world’s pride. Our boldness is the world’s presumption. Our wisdom is the world’s folly. Yet we come feasting, and we do so gladly and joyfully, with confidence that what our Lord Jesus told us is true: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:54-57).

Come, fools of the world, take and eat. You are being lifted up into the very courts of heaven, into the presence of the Living God. You are being fed with the life of Christ Himself, who is the wisdom of God. You count it a great privilege to feast at the table of the King.

Come, let us taste and see that the Lord is good.

The Royal Gift of Food

November 16, 2007

Throughout the Bible one particular royal gift is highlighted above all others – the gift of food. Melchizidek, the king of Salem, gave food and drink to Abram. When Joseph was raised to rule over Egypt, he fed the world. King David permitted Mephibosheth to eat with him at his table. The royal feast is one of the chief OT images for the kingdom of God. In the Psalms the marriage feast pictures the joyful fellowship of the heavenly King with His people. Proverbs 9 depicts Wisdom – a messianic figure – preparing a feast to share His bounties. Isaiah and Ezek prophesied that the Son of David would feed Israel with His own hand.

When we come to the gospels we find the Lord Jesus feeding the multitudes with His own hand, signaling that He was the Son of David and messianic King who would lead His people to green pastures. Jesus described the kingdom of God as a wedding feast for the son of the king and told His disciples, “I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.”

As we sit at this table today, we sit at the kingdom feast of Jesus Christ. This supper is a foretaste of the joy and fellowship of the final wedding feast that all Christ’s people will enjoy when the Bridegroom returns. Jesus is here as host and as guest, and His kingdom is manifested here and now, and through the Spirit the kingdom’s power comes to life in us as He feeds us.

But Jesus is not merely guest and host. He is also the very food we eat. He is the bread from heaven; His flesh is true food, and His blood is true drink. His flesh satisfies all our hungers, not just the hunger of our bellies, and His blood makes us never to thirst again. The bread we break is a participation in His life-giving body, and the wine that we drink is a participation in His blood. Because we feast upon Christ, we have life. We have no life in ourselves, but we must receive life as the gift of the Father from Christ by the Spirit. Through this bread and wine, we receive Christ Himself and become bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh.

Let us eat and drink in faith, believing in Christ crucified and trusting in His mighty cross. Come, let us taste and see that the Lord is good.

With Apologies to Dolly Parton…

October 10, 2007

“Islands in the stream – that is what we are – no one in between…” Actually, she and Kenny Rogers may owe us an apology. OK… not my point. Focus Al, focus!

What are we doing when we come to the Lord’s Table? Are we all Dolly and Kenny types, isolated individuals looking for that one-on-one connection with Jesus? I think that is the prevalent in the Church today. This is the place where I meet Jesus. I look into my heart see if I am right(eous) and then I come to the table.

The need of the hour is communion reformation. As 1 Cor 10:17 says, “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” Since there is one loaf on the table we are one body. We do not come to the table individually we come together.

Alexander Schmemann said that the Church ought to be a society…

“Yet the experience of worship has long ago ceased to be that of a corporate liturgical act. It is an aggregation of individuals coming to church, attending worship in order to satisfy individually their individual religious needs, not in order to constitute and to fulfill the Church. The best proof of this is the complete disintegration of communion as a corporate act. “

So the question is how do we recapture this “corporate act” in our communion at The Table? Here are three, nay four, things we ought to do:

  1. The Lord’s Supper is an every week event. There is much less introspection when the table is viewed as means of grace given to the church (“This is my body GIVEN for you”) for the strengthening of the body as a whole.

  2. As opposed to the Roman Church we wait on one another to eat and drink. Even if you come forward to receive the elements the body should eat and drink as one.Keep short accounts in sin.
  3. Have a time of confession at the beginning of the service and remind the church of their forgiveness prior to taking the bread and wine.
  4. Study what it is to discern the body… Is it an intellectual exercise where we place the bread and wine (and the Savior for that matter) into easily, forgive me, digestible categories? Or is it a looking left, right, front and back; looking at my neighbor and loving them by grace through Christ? I think it is the latter.

There are others that may come up in the meta… I want to talk about children and the table next…

al sends

Unity manifested

October 7, 2007

St. Paul proclaims in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17) When we come to the Lord’s Table, we often meditate on how we are drawn closer to Christ Jesus by partaking of His body and blood. But when we come to the Lord’s Table, we also show ourselves to be one body, one with each other. We are one body because we partake of one bread. When we celebrate the supper together as the Lord commanded, we manifest our unity.

To be the church is to be the work of the Triune God who cannot fail. The gates of hell will not prevail against His church. From the youngest to the oldest, from the newest Christian to the most mature saint, all the baptized are the body of Christ, and so in this ongoing ritual, this sacrament of covenant life, we show forth the unity that is found together in our union with Jesus Christ.

And so this is why we must always wait for one another when we eat. And this is why must we clear accounts in our relationships with each other. We must confess our sins, and we must seek forgiveness so that we come to the table truly in unity, and we must be ready to forgive when the sin gets confessed.

Everyone longs to be part of something. We join clubs and teams and fraternities and brotherhoods and unions and identify with groups. But here at the table we truly belong. Young and old, rich and poor, we are the new humanity here at this table. We are united to one another as a body in the greatest, most eternal human organism assembled. We are the body of Christ. Why? Because we all partake of the same bread, the bread of Christ.

So I invite you all to come in faith and be bound together in Him.

Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.

Three Cups

October 3, 2007

Lord’s Supper
Matt 26:29

When Jesus offered His disciples the cup after supper he followed it with this promise:  “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”    Jesus waits on the consummation of all things to have his next glass of wine. 

But there was anothercup waiting for Him.  He would leave this warm, pleasant room and head to the Garden of Gethsemane, where the cup of God’s wrath was presented to Him.  A cup full of pain and cursing.  It hurt to even look at it.

At the sight of that cup there was sorrow and as that sorrow grew he began to bleed from His pores and at that moment the Savior prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  He would drink this cup down to the bitter dregs. 

He offers you a third cup… a cup of blessing and not cursing.  You see, His cup was bitter with sin while yours is sweetened with grace, peace, mercy.  His tasted of betrayal; you taste communion.  His cup was full of stripes and hammer blows; yours is full healing.  He willingly took up His cup and He bids you to do the same.  Come to Him, believing saints of the most high God, for His body is food indeed and His blood is drink indeed.  Next time you are offered this cup at the table – take it and drink it down. 

Only Sinners Need Apply

September 25, 2007

We are sinful. That is a very simple statement of a very profound truth. This week alone, maybe even this morning alone, we have committed enough sin to bar us forever from this table. Who are you to think that you should come and sit at the table of the King of kings and Lord of lords?

Yet it would be even greater sin not to come. Are you a rebel? The Scripture says yes. Do you have iniquity eating at your bones? Your conscience says yes. Is there the poison of asps under all our tongues and an open tomb in our throats and blood-shedding-swiftness about our feet? Our experience agrees with the Word of God that this is true of us.

Let me assure you of something else that is equally true: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The righteous bore the sin of the unrighteousness, so now you, through faith in Him and repentance toward sin, are clean. You have already confessed your sin to God. He heard you. You looked to Christ as you confessed. Christ interposed Himself for you. He ever lives to intercede for you.

So, yes, we are sinful. But we are also clean. We are free. Rejoice. We are raised out of the dust of our wretchedness, so that we can come cleansed and enjoy table fellowship with our Heavenly Father. Christ Jesus died for you. His body and blood speak for you as you take the bread and the wine. Your sins are forgiven, you who are baptized into Him with water and who trust in Him alone.

So come, we believe it, now let us taste and see that the Lord is good.

Celebrating the Vertical and the Horizontal

August 22, 2007

We often speak of the Christian life as having both a vertical and a horizontal dimension. We are in relationship with God – that is the vertical – and we are in relationship with one another – that is the horizontal. We catch this way of thinking from our Lord Jesus Himself, who taught that the greatest commandment in the law is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength, and the second commandment is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Here is the sum of a life that pleases God.

Both of these dimensions of the Christian life come together here at the feast table of the Lord’s Supper. Here we are ushered into the presence of God to feast on His Son, who promised that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood we have life indeed. Here we are nourishing our relationship with Christ by enacting a memorial of His death for us, by which we are delivered from our sin and made worthy of Him and His glory. That is the vertical dimension. Your love for God is stirred by receiving Christ through the bread and wine.

But there is the horizontal dimension also. We are all one body, the body of Christ. You are knit together in love as you partake together of one loaf and one cup. You forgive as you have been forgiven. You serve one another in love. You give your life for the brethren. You are a more thankful people. Why? Because you are one body. Why are you one body? Because you partake of one loaf and are indwelt by one Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God. This is made real in wonderful ways here at this table.

So here is your Christian life. Here is Christ broken and spilled out for you and filling you with Himself and uniting us together as a body. How precious is the sweet grace of God in Christ Jesus. Delight yourself in Him, for He is your Savior.

Come, let’s taste and see that the Lord is good.

An Offering of Thanksgiving to God

August 13, 2007

We come now to the table of our Lord to receive His body and His blood by faith. It is a high and holy privilege for all those who are baptized and in union with His church to sit and feast with the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, and to commune with Him in peace.

We often speak of the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace, and rightly so, for in the Lord’s Supper God comes and graciously builds us up in our faith and builds us up as His body. But let’s never forget that the primary movement that goes on in the Eucharist is toward God. We present this bread and wine to our Lord as an offering of thanksgiving to Him for what Christ Jesus has done for us.

This was brought to my mind as I read a prayer written by Hippolytus, a bishop in Rome at the beginning of the third century. In the prayer Hippolytus says this: “Having in memory, therefore, His death and resurrection, we offer to Thee the bread and the cup, yielding Thee thanks, because Thou hast counted us worthy to stand before Thee and to minister to Thee.”

That is what I would direct you to consider now as we celebrate the body and blood of our Lord. Holding in remembrance Christ’s death and resurrection, we offer up to God the bread and the cup, and in the grace of that Godward movement, of that giving of praise to God, we receive blessing. Let’s never forget that in this Divine Service of worship we present offerings to God by the Spirit, and the Father graciously receives our worship and through that free offering serves us in the grace of Christ.

I hope your heart is filled with awe and wonder and gratitude and love as you meditate on what you are counted worthy to do now through this Communion meal. Let your heart be overflowing with praise as you take up the bread and the cup of our Lord who was crucified and who rose again for you, this bread of offering and this cup of offering.

Come, let us taste and see that the Lord is good.