What is Communion?
Pastor Jacob Marchitell teaches from 1st Corinthians about the Sacrament of Communion.
Today we will be talking about Communion.
What it is
Why it is
What it means
Why it means it
And why it all matters
Before we get into that, however, we do have a 2 announcements
THIS Saturday at 530 we will be having a Free Take-Out picnic dinner.
Hotdogs, Mac Salad, and Baked Beans
Sunday School has started back up
Both classes will be in the Community Center this morning
And thats it. Kids are dismissed, have fun, learn a lot, give your teachers a hard time.
This is one of those topics that I think everyone has questions about.
So Im going to do my best to pull from the Scriptures everything that is mentioned about this Ceremony, and why it matters to us.
If you have your Bible with you, you can open up to Matthew 26:26-29
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
( → → Opening Prayer ← ← )
So….this morning’s Sermon might be a little “teachy”.
It might seem like some weird religious ritual, that doesnt really apply to my life, to my day to day
Hopefully at the end of the message, you'll think differently, and be able to see how important taking Communion is.
Since January you have no doubt heard me say how Communion is a tradition that has lasted thousands of years, literally, 2000 plus years, straight through to today, that is practiced by every Bible believing Christian that has ever lived, and more than a few people who call themselves Christians but deny what the Bible teaches.
It has survived not only World Wars and Civil Wars-----
Not only famine and Disaster----
But it has survived the Splits that have happened in Christianity as well.
When the Church split into the Catholic and Orothodox Churches in 1054---
Both of them continued this Ceremony
When the Protestants split from the Catholics in the Protestant Reformation of 1517---
Both continued this Ceremony
When all the fracturing denominations of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Churches began to form and fight against each other-----they all continued to hold Communion.
They all presented the Lord’s Table before their Congregation, and distributed the Elements of Bread and Wine to their people.
They do this, because of the Verse that you have no doubt heard me read on the first Sunday of every month.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
This same narrative comes to us in Mark and Luke as well.
We can also read about it in 1st Corinthians, when the Apostle Paul brings some clearer instructions about it all.
So right there, we have the reason why Churches all over the planet, in dozens of different languages, in dozens of different Denominations, all celebrate Communion.
Because God Himself literally told us to.
However, because humans tend to be hard headed, and because we like to do things our own way, and come to beliefs our own way, and because we argue whenever anyone else tells us anything else that doesnt line up with what we believe…..there are a quite a few different understandings about this most special of traditions.
To not turn this into a History lesson im just going to breeze through a few of the ideas that relate to Communion.
The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church both hold to a teaching that says that the Bread and Wine, become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
That is why you see pictures of Priests holding up the wafer, and why they are kept in such ordained containers
They teach that even if you were to put the bread or wine under a microscope, you would still see the cells of bread and wine, but that a miracle takes place when the Priest blesses them, that cant be seen with the human eye.
They both have different rules around how often it is celebrated, and who within the Church is allowed to even take Communion.
Some Protestant denominations will say that Christ remains in Heaven at the right hand of God, but that there is a Spiritual power contained within the Elements.
Others will say it is nothing but a symbol
Still others will say that there is a sense of memorial power in the bread and wine that reflects the faith of the person receiving it.
So…..who is right?
If all these different denominations use the same Scriptures as their reasons for believing something, then I would say they are all right.
However, if a Church mixes in human teachings ALONG with scripture, to come to their conclusion, then I am going to say they are wrong.
Buuuuuut, were not going to solve in the next 20minutes, what Churches have been arguing about for the past 1000years.
I will say this though:
If we focus on the elements and not toward Christ to whom they point, then they are hollow and meaningless.
If our focus is on bread and wine, and not on Christ, His Sacrifice, and His inevitable return-----then all they will be is wheat and juice
What I can say, is that Communion is not some empty religious Ceremony.
It is not purely symbolic---
Its not going through the motions-----just because
Its not a hollow tradition that we just do because thats the things that Churches do
It is important.
It is a Sacred and Spiritual Ceremony that we as Christians were instructed by our God to carry out.
When we partake of the Bread and Wine, we are using our bodies, and using our minds, to carry out instructions that were first written down 2000 years ago.
We are receiving through our mouth, a spiritual sacrement, if it carries the actual body and blood of our Lord, or if it’s just His presence….is inconsequential to that fact that we the Bread and the Wine are now moving through the very biological systems that He created to begin with.
And just like food and drink carry vital nutrients to all the systems of our body, and without them we would die…..so does Communion to our Spiritual Bodies.
All the different areas of our Spiritual Self, need to be refreshed and refilled with the life giving power of the Holy Spirit, and this doesnt happen when we grit our teeth extra hard and sweat extra hard
It happens when we listen to the instructions that God gave us, follow through, and make them a apart of our life.
1st Samuel 15:22 says that God desires obedience over sacrifice, so when we follow through with what God wants of us….that He didnt keep a secret, but told us in plain language...we are getting closer and closer to Him.
Just like the nutrients of natural food moves through our veins strengthening the areas that need to be strengthened------
The Spiritual food of Communion moves through our Spiritual person and provides all those things that are necessary for a healthy spiritual life.
Do we need focus?
Do we need discipline?
Do we need strength?
Do we need compassion?
Do we need reassurance of our forgiveness?
Whatever the Spiritual need we may have at this point in our life, the Lords Table is where we receive the Spiritual “nutrients” from.
Do we need to be more focused in our walk with the Lord?
Bring that to the Lord’s Table
Do we need to learn to keep our eyes to ourselves?
Bring that to the Lord’s Table
Do we need to learn to be Patient, Gracious, Forgiving?
Bring the things in your spiritual life that are unhealthy to the Lords Table, and receive the Spiritual Food that doesnt fail in providing that which is needed
But how does this happen?
Is there some mystical supernatural thing that happens when we eat the bread and drink the wine?
Some Christians will say yes, and others will say no.
But im not concerned with drawing such a harsh distinct line around it, so I will say this:
That when we perform an act with our body, and perform an action with our heart and with our mind-------that is a direct instruction from God, we are placing God at the forefront of our life------at the very minimum, for those few moments that it takes to take Communion.
Our daily life may be filled with distractions and hurt, but at the Lords Table, we are called to place all of that at His feet
Every day something new seeks to beat us down and defeat us, but in those moments with the Elements of Holy Communion working their way into biological beings, we are in line with what Scripture teaches
In that moment, with the outside world pushed far away from us…...Our body, our soul, and our spirit are all working together to go after God
We may fall to our favorite sin
Be it anger or lust or selfishness or hate
But in those moments when we taste the sweetness of the blood of our Savior, we are acknowledging that He is God and we are not.
Because that is the essence of the Gospel.
If we want to be forgiven---
To be made new---
To be in right standing before God---
To live that has meaning beyond what this world can throw at us----
We must acknowledge that He is God and we are not
And that is the essence of Communion as well.
Every time we take the bread and wine, we should align our heart and our mind with the actions that our body is undertaking.
Because if we think that just going through the actions, is what it means to take Communion, then we have some stern words to hear in:
1st Corinthians 11:26-32
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 So then, 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. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.”
When we come to the Lords table, and receive the Bread and receive the Wine, are told by God to examine ourselves, and discern the body of Christ, and if we dont….then we will be bringing judgement against ourselves.
Whoah...that is really heavy.
Like, really heavy
Eating and drinking judgement against ourselves..so much so that God allows sickness, even to the point of death, to bring His children home to Him.
That doesnt sit well with our 21st Century mindset.
If you say that God lives within you, but are holidng on to anger in your heart, avoid the Lord’s Table, or give up the anger when you approach it
If you are holding on to bitterness, avoid the Table, or lay it at the Table
If you are holding anything in your heart that God teaches us by example is wrong or immoral…..then avoid the Table or lay it at the Table
That is what this verse is talking about.
If we are so consumed with “our way” that we ignore what Scripture teaches-----but flippantly approach the Lord’s Table thinking that if we perform an action with our body, it can override the sin in our heart-----then we will be eating and drinking judgement against ourselves
However….this shouldnt be some new thing that a Christian has never heard before.
All through Scripture we are given instructions and information, that if we follow and believe the things we read and are taught…..we will be examining ourselves all the time.
Were told that if we have anger in our heart, then we are guilty of murder
That if we have lust in our heart we are guilty of adultery
Were told to love our neighbors
Love our enemies
Pray for our political leaders
Were told to lay our lives down for Jesus Christ and follow after Him with all of our being.
Being a Christian, means we have examined ourselves, and realized that He is God and we are not
It doesnt mean that we consider ourselves better than others
It doenst mean we look down on certain people who engage in a certain sin----and say “I am soooo much more holy than they are.”
It means we agree with Romans 3:23 that says EVERYONE has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,
And we believe that it is only by the grace of God that we are saved and not by our actions.
Which means…...taking Communion doesnt save you
Eating the bread and wine, no matter how elaborate the ceremony may be….doesnt wash away our sins….
Eating the Bread and wine doesnt make you holier or better than anyone else
Standing in line at a Church, having a Priest or a Pastor bless some bread and place it on your tongue, doesnt mean you are forgiven….
Taking Communion doesnt make you a Christian….but only Christians can take Communion.
When Jesus gave us the Command to eat and drink in remembrance of Him….He didnt give that out to the strangers on the street….
He didnt instruct people who kind of knew Him and thought that He had some nice things to say, and thought He was a really great teacher----
He didnt instruct people who SORT of believed in Him-----
He didnt tell the people who claimed they believed in Him, but lived like the world anyways-----
He gave the instruction to people who believed that He is the Incarnate Son of God who came into this world to take away the sins of all who believe…..
So that is who Communion is for.
Those whom have repented of their sins and believed that Jesus Christ is God, are instructed by God to partake of the Bread and Wine.
If God lives in your heart, then you are invited and instructed to come to the Lords Table, with all the other believers, and partake together
To bring your fears---
All the things throughout your day and throughout your week that have worn you down, are dealt with at your Father’s Table.
Where everyone else in your family has a seat----
Where everyone is equal---
There isnt one Lord’s Table for the super holy people
Then another for the so-so Christians
All of us are invited to sit at the Lord’s Table and experience the reality of John 6:35, when Jesus says: 35 ...“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
And this invitation-----to sit at His table------is open to any who believe
Its not only open for people of a certain race---
Its not only open for people of a certain gender----
Its not only open for people who are super smart and super educated----
The only prerequisite that must be applied to your life, in order for their to be a spot reserved for you at the Lord’s Table, is repentance of your sins and belief that Jesus Christ is God.
The door to His house is open----
And there is a spot, with your name written on it….at His Table
In closing----if that is you, then you are not only invited to the Lord’s Table, here and now----
If your heart is inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and you acknowledge that He is God and you are not----
If you look forward with joy to everytime you can take your place alongside your brothers and sisters in the faith, as you all partake of the Lord’s Table---
If the Body and the Blood of our King flows through you while you surrender your heart and mind every month---
Then the Lord’s Table, that is here on earth, is not the only one that you are invited to.
We get a glimpse of that future table, a couple of times in Scripture.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Then again, we see the Lord’s Table presented to us in the Book of Revelation
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
If the Holy Spirit lives within you, then you are welcome to approach the Lord’s Table every time we gather as a Church to do so----
You are welcome to examine your heart, and bring all the gunk that has been accumulating, to Him, instead of holding on to it like the poison it is
You are welcome to bring it without judgement, if indeed you are bringing it to surrender it---
And when the end of all things is upon us------
When the very elemental fabric of reality melts under the heat of the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ-----
When the devil and his disgusting demons are finally trampled under the feet of our king and are thrown into the lake of eternal torment -----
When all injustice and evil will be punished by the white hot holiness of our God -----
When He rolls up this universe like a Scroll and creates an entirely new one -----
When everything that will come to pass, unfolds in the perfect timing of our King, and the plan that was set in place before the earth was even made…comes to be…
We will join Him, seated at His table…..for the Marriage supper of the Lamb of God.
( → → Closing Prayer ← ← )