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A Communion Service

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(8/5) We have gathered together today as Christians have all over this world have done or will yet do. The first day of the week- Sunday, is a special day for us each week, because we remember that it was on a Sunday morning that the grave site of our Lord Jesus was suddenly and forcefully opened to show the world that Jesus had risen from the dead. There is a sense in which every Sunday is Easter Sunday. I know that you have heard this many times, but Muhammad is dead, the Buddha is dead, Confucius is dead, Marx, Darwin, Freud and Nietzsche are all dead, but Jesus Christ is alive. Every Sunday is a testimony that we serve a risen Savior. Can you say, "Amen?"

We congregate to celebrate every Sunday that we have been rescued from the penalty of our sins and from the power of our sin nature, and that our lives have been redeemed by our risen Savior. We have forgiveness, peace, hope for our future, and a new purpose for living today because of what Jesus has done for us by dying and rising again for us. We now have no need to fear death, the manner of our death perhaps, but not death itself, for we know that when that day comes and we are absent from the body we shall be forever present with the Lord and shall behold His face and kneel before Him to worship Him in His physical presence.

We congregate in a place set aside to worship, usually a building we refer to as a church, because we remember that we have been set apart by God, from the world in which we live, to be a Holy people for Him. The world canít understand why we sing to Him and about Him, nor can it understand our reverence for His Awesome Being, or our belief and trust in the Absolute Truth of His Word Ė the Bible. So we gather to worship and learn more of His Word so we can accomplish His purposes for our lives; the purposes for which He has redeemed and set us aside for.

We congregate to offer our resources to Him to be used to accomplish His purposes in our community and in the world. We congregate to pray; that is, to talk to the invisible God about accomplishing His will and seeking His grace and protection in the day to day needs of our lives.

We are the Church, the Body and Bride of our Lord Jesus Christ and the adopted children of the Almighty God of the Universe. We have been set apart and filled with the Holy Spirit of God to minister as Jesus Christ and to accomplish His purposes and will in this world. We are the Church.

We are going to continue with the theme of being salt and light in the world next week, but we are going to depart from our verse by verse study of the Sermon on the Mount for a few weeks and starting next week we are going to learn how to pray and to pray for God to move in our families and in our communities and on our country to bring a revival and an awakening to the things of God that our country was founded on. I want to lead you on a 40 day journey of prayer for revival. But today we are going to worship and remember. This is the first Sunday of the month and as such it is Communion Sunday. It is a day to worship and to remember.

Please open your Bibles to Luke 22:14-20.

Jesus had gathered with the 12 and perhaps others to observe and remember the Passover, a God given feast to remember when God miraculously rescued Israel from Egyptian slavery and began their journey to their promised land. The meal was designed to cause them to remember the bitterness of their bondage, the swiftness of their deliverance, and the presence of their God.

Let me stop here for a moment. It is important that we take the time to remember our heritage. It is also important that we teach our heritage to our children and not assume that the schools will because they will not. While our children may learn American History, they will not learn of the spiritual roots that shaped our Nation. Parents, and grandparents, you must study and teach your children and grandchildren.

From that Passover meal, our Lord Jesus instructed His disciples to start another meal of remembrance so that they, and we, will never forget whose we are and the price that was paid to redeem us.

Our Catholic friends call this the Eucharist from the word for "Thanks." We call it the Lordís Supper, the Lordís Table, or Communion as is used in 1 Cor. 10:16-17 (turn there and 11:23ff). The word, Communion is the same as Fellowship, or Partnership, and means to have or to share in common. Unlike our Catholic friends we do not believe that these elements mystically become the real body and blood of Jesus but by the use of symbolism, they are memory aids. We are, whether in the course of a meal, or just with the symbols, to regularly focus on Him so that we never forget what He has done and what He has promised to do. The first Church was devoted to the Breaking of Bread, or this Communion meal which was probably observed every time the church got together in homes. Often they would have a covered dish dinner referred to as a Love Feast or agape meal, following which they would break the bread and drink the cup of communion and remember what Jesus has done and promised to do. Iíll never forget Dr. Charles Stanley saying, that the world drinks to forget, but the church drinks to remember. I would like to tell you that there are at least 6 things we are to remember when we share this table. These are 6 things that are crucial to our walk with Jesus. As you remember I encourage you to worship your Savior.

A. A Crucifixion (1 Cor. 11:24). We are to remember that God came as one of us, not just to teach us, though He did, and not just to be an example, though He was, but to be one of us so He could die for us as our substitute, to pay for our sins (Romans 5:8). Only an infinite and Holy God could become a man and die for the sins of billions and pay the infinite penalty for our sins. Our sins demanded a death. For centuries God had allowed the use of animal substitutes like lambs and goats and young bulls to make atonement (or a covering) for our sins. But an animal could not pay for a manís sins, only a man could do that. So God prepared a body and came to us, as we celebrate every Christmas. And then, He allowed Himself to suffer horribly at the hands of His creation as Mel Gibson showed us in the Passion of the Christ. The bread, He said, was to be a reminder of His body given and broken for us. Though it cost you nothing, your forgiveness and life cost Him horrible pain and death. Our God came to us in love and grace (John 3:16). We eat to remember.

B. A Covenant (1 Cor. 11:25). The death of Jesus marked the beginning of a new relationship with God and His Children. For centuries he had promised a New Covenant. In fact our Bibles are called Old and New Covenants or Testaments. Neither Israel, nor the world would keep the conditional covenant of Moses. That covenant simply said that on the condition of man obeying God and keeping His commandments, God would bless them immeasurably. Godís blessings and Godís cursing was conditional upon manís response. Since man was not able to keep that covenant God said He would give a New Covenant, an unconditional covenant. The only condition would be man receiving His Son as Lord and Savior, God would then forgive all their sins; and He would adopt all who receive Jesus; and He would live in them by His Holy Spirit; and He would write His laws on their hearts; and He would give them an eternal home with Him. This pledge to us is based on His own character and not on our conduct (Jer. 31:31ff). His assurance to us of its reality is the blood of His life shed for us. Every time we drink this cup we remember these promises of His grace and mercy for us. The Hope that we have in God, the grace we have from God, we did not earn. The mercy we have received we do not deserve; they are the unconditional gifts of God as He promised in the new Covenant. We drink to remember.

C. A Community (1 Cor. 10:16-17).We partake of this bread and cup together as a church and a family to demonstrate that Godís plan is for us to work in community and harmony with each other and Christians everywhere. The Church is not a bunch of lone rangers. We are a body, a Called out company of Christ-Followers. We need each other. That is why there are so many, "one another," verses in the New Testament. We are to minister to each other and love each other and build each other up just as Jesus has loved us. We are family with every other born again believer in the world and Paul encourages us to remember that and make extra special effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace among believers (Eph. 4:1-6), even as our Lord Jesus prayed that by our love and unity that the world would see demonstrated in us they would know that we have the real deal (John 17:20-23). We all share in His family. Just as we all eat this bread the same way, we all have been forgiven and adopted the same way. We all have the same Holy Spirit living in us. We all have the same Lord (Eph. 4:1-6).We all will share His house forever. We are one in Him regardless of our skin, ethnicity, or politics. We eat to remember that we are Community.

D. A Commission (1 Cor. 11:26). When we eat we remember that we are saved only because of Jesusí death for us and that those of us who have heard and received Godís grace are to tell others of that Grace. Proclaiming the Lordís death and covenant is what we are all commissioned to do because without them, your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers are lost and will spend eternity apart from God in hell. Listen to Matt. 28:19-20, Luke 24:46-48, John 14:1-6; Acts 4:12). We have been saved and set apart as Godís children to be His ambassadors His special envoys to tell others how to know God and His grace. Every time we come to this table we Remember that God doesnít have a plan B. We are the ones commissioned to tell others about Jesus. Every time we eat and drink, we remember.

E. A Coming Again (1 Cor. 11:26). Though we donít know when, we know Jesus is coming back and then some time after that we are all, with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses and multitudes more, are going to have a celebration meal with Jesus (Luke 22:15-18). Our Lord said in Luke 12:35-38 that in that day He will have us gather at the table and He Himself will serve us. What a day that will be? He will put an end to the sin, selfishness, and suffering in this world, and will judge and rule the world in righteousness, and will condemn Satan and all His followers to the Lake of Fire forever. We eat and drink and remember that our God is alive and is coming back for His Church.

F. A Cleansing is Necessary. (1 Cor. 11:27-32) We are to be a Holy people; a clean people. Our Lord demonstrated this on the night that He gave us this meal of remembrance. Remember how He took a towel and basin of water and washed all of His disciplesí feet. When Peter asked to have His hands and head washed as well, our Lord said, that once you have been bathed, you only need to wash your feet; that which comes into contact with the dirt of the world (John 17:10). The point is, that while it is true that we are cleansed of our sins and our sinsí penalty, we still sin occasionally and unless we forget the seriousness of even little sins we must regularly stop and examine ourselves and confess our sins so that our lives and the partaking of this meal wonít be a disrespect to the love and holy sacrifice of our Lord Jesus on our behalf. Paul says here that some who have disrespectfully taken communion have been severely disciplined by the Lord. God wants His people, His children, His Church to be clean and holy. Every time we pause to eat and drink this Communion we are to remember to come clean.

G. There you have it. Six things to remember this morning as you take communion. A Crucifixion, a Covenant, a Community, a Commission, a Coming Again, and a Cleansing.

There are two conditions for taking communion with us today.

1. You must be a saved, born again, follower of Jesus Christ. I didnít say, church goers, or religious, but saved. Have you been saved by Godís grace? This is for Christ Followers. The blessing of forgiveness and eternal life can come by no other means than personally repenting of sins and receiving Jesus as your Savior and Lord. If you are not a Christ Follower, would you consider becoming one today? Turn away from sins and living independent of God and turn to Him for grace. Receive Jesus and His death and resurrection for you today. He will forgive you, adopt you as His child and give you His eternal life. That is His pledge to you. Will you do that?

If you know that you havenít received Jesus and for whatever reason wonít receive Jesus, donít partake with us. Let it pass.

2. You must come clean (1 Cor. 11:27ff). If you know you are in a sin and arenít willing to turn from it, donít partake with us, let it pass. Is there any attitude, un-forgiveness, anger, something you havenít apologized for, some action, an on-going sinful habit, that you need to confess and forsake? Letís take a moment of introspection and look into our own hearts, inviting God as David did to search us and know us and see if there is any wicked way in us, and as He tells you, repent of it and He has promised to forgive and cleanse you on the spot, right now (1 John 1:9). Letís take a quiet moment and do that now.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman