A Holy Communion INTRODUCTION: As central to the church as the sacraments are, there is surprisingly little written about

1 1 Corinthians 15:1-13 The Sacred Supper LS1501 June 14, 2015 pm The Lord’s Supper “A Holy Communion” INTRODUCTION: As central to the church as the...
Author: Marshall Ward
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1 1 Corinthians 15:1-13 The Sacred Supper LS1501

June 14, 2015 pm The Lord’s Supper “A Holy Communion”

INTRODUCTION: As central to the church as the sacraments are, there is surprisingly little written about them in the New Testament… 1. There are only 11 accounts of baptism in the New Testament a. Most of them a verse or two b. Or a passing allusion c. There is no detailed instruction about how to baptize d. And, honestly, no clear information on whom to baptize e. There are a grand total of 10 passages (from one verse to a few) giving us insight into baptism. f. i.e., Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:11-12, Ephesians 4:1-6, 1 Corinthians 15:29, Galatians 3:27-29, 1 Peter 3:18-22, 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Titus 3:4-8. 2. And, even more surprising, there is even less in the New Testament church about The Lord’s Supper. a. Three passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke (not John) b. Acts 2:42 (“breaking of bread”) And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42) c. An account of communion in Troas i. On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted. (Acts 20:7-12) ii. We assume this points to the Lord’s Supper d. Two clear references in First Corinthians i. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

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2 ii. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17) e. And, then, a long passage in First Corinthians 11:17-34 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) 3. So, most of what we know about the details of baptism and the Lord’s Supper we know from – a. Our attempts to interpret the few passages b. Church history: how Christians through the ages administered the sacraments c. Our particular confessions and catechisms (theological traditions) 4. I say this not to discourage you, to place doubt in your minds or to deprecate the sacraments in any manner, but to demonstrate how cautious and humble we must be when we arrive at our understanding and practice of the sacraments. 5. We do know this, however, and it is of great importance to us a. We are commanded by Jesus Christ to baptize. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) b. We are commanded to regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper. i. And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, your mother I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:14-20) ii. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) 6. The sacraments hold a vital place in the life and liturgy of the Christian Church: LS1501

3 a. Word and sacraments go hand-in-hand in the biblical proclamation of the Gospel. b. The Word: the Gospel in verbal form c. The sacraments: the Gospel in picture form 7. Few theologians or pastors understood the nature of the sacraments like John Calvin. Of his many contributions to Christian thought, practice and theology, perhaps his greatest was his teaching on the sacraments in general, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 8. In book four of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin gives, what I believe is, the best explanation for why God gave the Old Testament church and Christ the New Testament church the sacraments that He did. 9. In book four, chapter 14, “The Sacraments”, in the Institutes of the Christian Religion (vol. 2; pp. 12761280), Calvin writes this: We have in the sacraments another aid to our faith related to the preaching of the gospel. It is very important that some definite doctrine concerning them will be taught, that we may learn from it both the purpose for which they were instituted and their present use. First, we must consider what a sacrament is. It seems to me that a simple proper definition would be to say that it is an outward sign of which the Lord seals on our conscience the promises of his good will toward us in order to sustain weakness of our faith; and we in turn attest our piety towards him in the presence of the Lord and of his angels, and before men. Here is another briefer definition: one may call it a testimony of divine grace toward us, confirmed by an outward sign, with mutual attestation of our piety toward him. Whichever of these definitions, you may choose, it does not differ in meaning from that of Augustine, who teaches that a sacrament is “a visible sign of a sacred thing,” or “a visible form of an invisible grace,” but it better and more clearly explains the thing itself. Now, from the definition that I have sent forth, we understand that a sacrament is never without the preceding promise but is joined to it as a sort of appendix, with the purpose of confirming and sealing the promise itself, and of making it more evident to use and in a sense ratifying it. By the means God provides first for our ignorance and dullness, then for our weakness. For God’s truth is of itself firm and sure enough, and it cannot receive better confirmation from any other source than from itself. But as our faith is slight and evil unless it be propped on all sides and sustained by every means, it trembles, waivers, totters, and okay rest for at last gives way. Here our merciful Lord, according to his infinite kindness, so tempers himself to our capacity that, since we are creatures to always creep on the ground, cleave to the flesh, and, do not think about or even conceive of anything spiritual, he condescends to lead us to himself, even by these earthly elements, and to set before us in the flesh a mirror of spiritual blessings. The seals which are attached to government documents and other public acts are nothing taken by themselves, for they would be attached in vain if the parchment had nothing written on it. Yet, when added to the writing, they do not on that account fail to confirm and seal what is written The sacraments, therefore, are exercises which make us more certain of the trustworthiness of God’s Word. And because we are of flesh, they are shown us under things of flesh, to instruct us according to our dull capacity, and to lead us by the hand as tutors lead children. Augustine calls a sacrament “a visible word” for the reason that it represents God’s promises as painted in a picture and sets them before our sight, portrayed graphically and in the manner of images. 10. This is what baptism and Lord’s Supper are: LS1501

4 a. Sacraments (promises) instituted by Christ b. Signs (symbols) of the Covenant of Grace c. Visible images of an invisible grace (Augustine) d. Sensory pictures of the Gospel’s Word (drama) e. Seals (guarantees) of God’s promises of salvation f. Tangible words to instruct us who are the children of God g. Exercises to make us more certain of God’s trustworthy Word 11. Wow! What a marvelous service the sacraments render to the people of faith and to the church throughout history! 12. Protestant evangelicals need a deeper appreciation for and a more thorough understanding of the sacraments. Hence… a. Our sermon series on baptism (mornings) b. A three-week series on the Lord’s Supper (evenings) c. The robust practice of Word and sacrament 13. Let’s turn to First Corinthians 5:1-13 and look at this truth: a. A Holy Communion b. One of three titles the church gives to the Sacrament of the Sacred Supper – i. Eucharist (thanksgiving): Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran ii. Lord’s Supper: Presbyterians, Reformed, Baptists, Methodists iii. Holy Communion: All the various churches c. The Sacred Supper (series title) 14. First Corinthians has two paragraphs (in the Greek text), each telling us something special (and important) about the Lord’s Supper. a. A Holy Fellowship (5:1-8) b. A Sacred Supper (5:9-13) I. THE LORD’S SUPPER IS A HOLY COMMUNION

(1 Corinthians 5:1-8)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been LS1501

5 sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:1-8) 1. Holy communion and holy fellowship are synonymous phrases: a. koinonea in the Greek b. From koinos (common); koinoneo (to have in common, to share) c. A sharing; a communion; a fellowship; a having in common with one another. 2. Paul’s understanding of the Lord’s Supper is rooted in the Old Testament sacrament of the Passover – the Old Testament Communion Supper: a. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8) b. He uses both words and imagery derived from the Old Testament Feast of the Passover. c. Two feasts merged together i. The Feast of Passover ii. The Feast of Unleavened Bread d. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if LS1501

6 anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.” (Exodus 12:1-20) e. “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. But you shall present a food offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.” (Leviticus 23:4-8) f. cf. Deuteronomy 16:1-8 g. Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16) 3. Passover (14th of Nisan) followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days (15th-21st of Nisan). Eventually all 8 days were called “Passover” or “The Feast of Eight Days” (Josephus) 4. Hence, our Westminster Confession of Faith states this: a. The sacraments of the Old Testament, in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the new. (WCF 27-5) b. Passover

Lord’s Supper

c. The “Last Supper” (Passover) became the first Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) 5. The rabbis taught that three things were implied in the command to “appear before the Lord” at Passover – a. Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16) b. Presence: to be physically present in the Temple c. chagigah (pronounced: ha-gi-ga): meaning “peace offering”; part of the sacrificial lamb to be eaten by the people. d. Joyfulness: as one was able he was to give a special offering of thanksgiving for God’s forgiving grace. LS1501

7 6. Hence, in our own Lord’s Supper, we recognize these three elements – a. The spiritual presence of Jesus Christ with us. We must be present to partake. No internet communions! b. The chagigah we eat: the bread and wine (as the body and blood of the Lamb) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29) The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16) c. The joyful offering of thanks: a eucharist; for us, a special offering for some benevolence. Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. (John 13:26-29) 7. One thing was true of the Passover that must also be true of the Lord’s Supper – no one unclean may partake of it! a. The person who touches such a thing shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water. When the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward he may eat of the holy things, because they are his food. (Leviticus 22:6-7) b. “If the man who is unclean does not cleanse himself, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, since he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. Because the water for impurity has not been thrown on him, he is unclean. And it shall be a statute forever for them. The one who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and the one who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening. And whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean, and anyone who touches it shall be unclean until evening.” (Numbers 19:20-22) c. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you. (Deut. 23:14) d. No uncircumcised, no one ceremonially unclean, no one uncleansed from immorality (especially sexual sins) 8. Paul says the same thing in this passage: Guard the Lord’s Table, the Lord’s Fellowship, and the Lord’s Church from moral, relational, and spiritual uncleanness! a. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you. (Deut. 23:14) b. It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. LS1501

8 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5) c. Church discipline: “Let him who has done this be removed from among you” i. A warning to repent (admonition) ii. Banned from the Lord’s Table (suspension) iii. Removal from the church (ex-communication) d. Why? For his salvation. Discipline is never punitive but always restorative: You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:5) 9. So, certain persons are banned from taking Holy Communion. a. Those who were not converted (not spiritually cleansed) b. Those who, obviously, were not baptized (ceremonially not clean) c. Those in flagrant immoral (illegal) sin (morally unclean) d. Hence: The reason we “fence the Table” the way we do here at Christ Covenant. e. Apostles' Creed: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church and the communion of saints (holy ones)”… f. Book of Church Order: The Administration of the Lord’s Supper; 58-4. Since, by our Lord’s appointment, this Sacrament sets forth the Communion of Saints, the minister, at the discretion of the session, before the observance begins, may either invite all those who profess the true religion, and our communicants in good standing in any evangelical church, to participate in the ordinance; or may invite those who have been approved by the session, after having given indication of their desire to participate. It is proper also to give a special invitation to non-communicants to remain during the service. (BCO 58-4) 10. Paul warns the church, using Passover language that the “leaven” of sin can corrupt. a. Both the fellowship of the body life of the church b. And the communion of saints at the Lord’s Table c. So…we need to clean out this leaven of sin Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:6-7) d. And…we need to come to the Lord’s Supper “leavened” with sincerity and truth Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8) LS1501

9 11. The Lord’s Supper is called Holy Communion simply because the church that partakes of it are holy ones (saints) living together in holy fellowship.

II. THE LORD’S SUPPER IS A SACRED MEAL (1 Cor. 5:9-13) I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) 1. Here’s what Paul is saying here: “We should not eat a sacred meal with unsacred people, because eating communicates oneness with those with whom we eat. In the world, we must have contact with, and even eat meals together, with non-Christians. But the Lord’s Supper is reserved for only believers. We don't judge non-Christians; we should judge ourselves in the church. Keep godless and ungodly people away from the Sacred Table.” 2. Paul’s instructions focus, again, on the table – “…not even to eat with such a one.” (i.e., with unbelievers) 3. His reference point is the meal: a fellowship supper/Lord’s Supper should be with people who are “fellows” in Christ; redeemed people and not non-Christians. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (2 Cor. 6:14-15) 4. Leonard J. VanderZee: Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; p. 223-224. The first thing we observe is that this is a meal. It not a mere ceremony or liturgical act, but it is a ritual meal. When we call it a meal, all sorts of associations and memories come to our minds just as they must have come to mind for the disciples as they gathered with Jesus for that last Passover. A meal is one of the most common yet significant acts of human life. Nearly every important occasion centers in a meal: a wedding, a birthday, a holiday, a state occasion. But meals also lend significance to ordinary life. Meals celebrate our communal life and form us into community, even though a visit to a typical fast food restaurant may not bear out this truth. The sharing of our food ritual lies is the sharing of our lives. It is the quintessential action and emblem of our being bound together. 5. From beginning to end, the Bible is the story of God having a meal with His children – a. In Genesis 3, when God was said to come to the Garden of Eden “in the cool of the day”, i.e., evening time, it was presumably to eat dinner with His two children: Adam and Eve. b. Animal, fruit and grain sacrifices, prescribed by God, are pictures of the divine sharing of food with us. c. Abraham insisted on the angels from God stopping to eat a meal with Him (Genesis 18). d. Old Testament men sealed covenants by eating a meal together. LS1501

10 e. God instituted the Passover meal to share with Israel (and then the New Testament church) in perpetuity. f. Priests would eat of the sacrifices made to God, to reinforce God’s fellowship with His people. g. Jesus expands that Passover feast to a worldwide communion supper for the church. h. Upon His resurrection, Jesus eats a meal with His disciples no less than 3 times – i. On the road to Emmaus, He “broke bread” with Cleopas and his friend. ii. He ate fish with the disciples in the Upper Room on Easter evening. iii. He prepared breakfast for 7 disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. i. He tells us that He looks forward to a supper with us in heaven. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16) j. In the new world, we will celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb together… 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.” (Revelation 19:9) 6. From Genesis to Revelation, from Creation to New Creation, in Old Testament Israel and in New Testament church, as creatures and as Christians we spend our lives – now and forever – sharing a meal with God and His family. 7. Why? Because ordinary meals are formative for us! 8. Eugene Peterson: Living the Resurrection; pp. 59, 71, 78-79. a. We have a long tradition among Christians, given shape and content by our Scriptures, that practices the preparing, serving, and eating of meals as formational for living the resurrection. Christian practice in matters of spiritual formation goes badly astray when it attempts to construct or organize ways of spirituality apart from the ordinariness of life. And there is nothing more ordinary than a meal. b. Meals do five very vital things for us – i. They help us develop family intimacy. ii. They enable us to share our lives with one another. iii. They are used to inculcate family values and beliefs into the lives of children (converts). iv. They train us in the art of hospitality. v. They celebrate life given for life. c. We find ourselves living in a time when the common meal – or what the philosopher Albert Borgmann calls “the culture of the table.” – has been pushed to the sidelines. The machine and its metaphors dominate the way we live and think and talk about the way we live. The common meal is probably the primary way by which we take care of our physical need for food and our social need for conversation and intimacy and our cultural need to carry on traditions and convey values. The meal – preparation, serving, eating, cleaning up – has always been a LS1501

11 microcosm of the intricate realities that combine to make up even the simplest life of men, women, and children. And always, deeply embedded in the common meal – sometimes it’s invisible, and we don’t see it – is the experience of sacrifice: one life given so that another may live. It may be the life of a carrot or a cucumber or a fish or a duck or a lamb or a heifer, but it’s life. Eating a meal involves us in a complex, sacrificial world of giving and receiving. Life feeds life. We are not self-sufficient. We live by life and life is given to us. 9. So the Lord’s Supper does for us these five vital services: a. It helps us develop spiritual intimacy with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Ever notice how hushed, how tender, how tearful communion always is? Those are the rights and sounds of intimacy being built. b. It enables us to share ourselves with other believers. That’s why we pass out communion the way we do: a “priesthood of believers”, each giving and taking the elements of the sacred meal. We are serving each other. c. It helps us to inculcate Gospel faith and values into the lives of those who participate. This is the main reason why we want our non-communing children to be here with us at the Supper. It produces in them a love for Christ, a longing for the Supper, and a life in the church body. d. It is the great hospitality of God and His Church. We invite all visiting Christians to join us in a friendly meal. We welcome believers into our family at Christ Covenant, if only for one meal. e. It reminds us that a life has been spent for our lives. Jesus died so that we might live. We eat His Body and we drink His Blood, by faith, and we do so “in remembrance” of His sacrifice on the Cross. 10. Along with the Word of God, the Lord’s Supper is… a. Both the most ordinary means of grace: a book and a meal b. And the most formative force in Christianity: the voice of God and the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ c. No wonder Word and Sacrament are central to our life together. •

When we come to church, we gather as a family of brothers, sisters, and children of God.



When the Word is preached, we hear the voice of our Father, God, speaking to His family.



When we are baptized, we “wash for dinner” – cleansed by the Holy Spirit for life in God’s family and preparation for the Meal.



When we take the Lord’s Supper, our older brother, Jesus, feeds us by means of His own work of redemption – body and blood.



When we sing hymns, pray prayers, recite creeds, and read responsively, we are doing what families do together at meals – talking, singing happy songs, laughing, expressing shared beliefs, and sharing vital information.

11. We are simply, and yet supernaturally, the family of God at the family table! The Sacred Supper! LS1501

12 12. We must never forget this: The Lord’s Supper is God’s sacred meal with us, His children.

CONCLUSION: Much of what we understand about the sacraments is due to how the Spirit-guided church developed our sacramental theology over the centuries… 1. And, our forefathers in the church were correct – a. The Lord’s Supper is a Eucharistic Celebration: It is a time of joy and thanksgiving as a redeemed family. b. The Lord’s Supper is a Sacred Meal: It is a consecrated time our church family shares a meal together. c. The Lord’s Supper is a Holy Communion: It is a gathering of saints (a communion of saints) who share together in Christ, in the Covenant of Grace and in church life. 2. The Lord’s Supper is both informative and formative – a. Informative: It instructs us in visible form and by our five senses in the truth of the Gospel alongside the Word of God. b. Formative: It shapes us into both the Christians we ought to be and the church we want to become, by means of the grace of the Spirit. 3. So, when we come to Communion Sunday, at the first of each month, let us keep our Holy Communion – fellowship and meal – before our spiritual eyes. 4. And let us prepare to celebrate the festival as we should – holy and happy members of the Family of God. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

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