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Celebrating the Lord’s Supper on New Year’s Day January 2, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, Blood of Christ, Body of Christ, Communion, First Corinthians.
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Had a great service yesterday. This is the devotional I brought.

THE LORD’S SUPPER
1 Corinthians 11:18-34

The importance of the Lord’s Supper is sometimes lost in how we celebrate it. Often it does not feel like a celebration. The atmosphere is too somber. We sometimes act as if “the point of the meal is to screw up one’s face and try to feel sorry for Jesus. This is often accompanied by a psychological attempt to meditate on the physical pain of Jesus’ sufferings-an emphasis that is markedly understated in the biblical text itself” (Russell Moore, contributor to Understanding Four Views on the Lord’s Supper, 33).

A focus on the physical pain of Jesus does not seem to be the focus of the celebration described by Paul, although it is mentioned. There are two aspects of the celebration emphasized by him.

I. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is an expression of our family relationship (verses 18-22 and 27-34). Sometimes I am asked if I go to individuals, for example, to shut-ins and serve the Lord’s Supper. I don’t, not because it is wrong, but because it then ceases to function as a family event. These people, though, did not act as a family. They understood that they were supposed to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together as a family and they did gather together. Unfortunately, they did so in a very dysfunctional way. In fact, their lack of hospitality brought shame on those who were less fortunate in the congregation.

A. Lack of hospitality within the church shows that we despise the church (verses 18-22). In Corinth the “have’s” sat separately from the “have not’s” and acted generally as if they were better than them. I wish I could say we never acted that way but many of us know better. How often have we as individuals acted like we were better than someone else in this church? That is not the way God wants us to act.

B. Lack of hospitality within the church is unworthy of the love our Lord has shown to us (verses 27-30). “Jesus, what a Friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul; Friends may fail me, foes assail me, He, my Savior, makes me whole.” Remember the thief on the cross. To die on the cross was a shameful death. In the earliest days such a death had been reserved for slaves. To die on a cross was to be “despised by the world.” Jesus, however, did not despise the thief but loved Him and took Him to paradise to be with Him forever.

C. Lack of hospitality within the church will be judged by the Lord (verses 30-34). Our Lord Jesus takes this seriously. In Corinth, some were afflicted with sickness because of their pride towards their fellow believers. Others were killed by our Lord Jesus in judgment for their sin. To my knowledge we have not suffered in this way and yet I ask myself if some of our difficulties can be attributed to our lack of love for each other. God has, however, been merciful to us. We must learn to love every person in our church family with the love He has shown us, a love that does not despise the other but rather exalts the other.

II. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is not only an expression of our relationship as a church family but it is also an expression of the importance of our Lord’s death (verses 23-26).

A. He ought to be remembered by us (verses 23-25). This week I caught a portion of the NPR broadcast, “Talk of the Nation.” They were asking the question, “What persons passed away in 2011 that we ought to remember?” One man called in and mentioned the “Champaign Lady” from the “Lawrence Welk Show.” The daughter of the man who invented the Nordic Track and told about her dad. An acquaintance of a nun who was important in the early days of anti-nuclear protests also called in. These people all did important things in the field in which they worked. None of them, however, have done anything comparable to what Jesus did. His body was broken for us. He shed His blood for us. He established a new covenant between God and man for us. He ought to be remembered by us.

B. He ought also to be proclaimed by us (verse 26). Russell Moore says that the Lord’s Supper should “be characterized by more celebrative singing and even laughter, than the rest of the service. The congregation would be taught to understand that the Supper is a victory lap-announcing the triumph of Christ over the powers of sin, death, and Satan” (Moore, 33).

The third verse of “At Calvary” says, “Now I’ve giv’n to Jesus ev’rything, Now I gladly own Him as my King, Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary. Mercy there was great and grace was free, Pardon there was multiplied to me, There my burdened soul found liberty-At Calvary!”

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