Sermon - "True Communion" (I didn't catch a recording of this one)
In the name of ┼ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The apostle presents the Lord's supper to the Corinthians as a real means of grace, something which actually delivers and seals Christ's forgiveness through his real bodily presence. Reception of holy communion, a distinctive of Christians throughout history, is not to be taken lightly. We are wrong if we consider it something done merely by us, merely as a remembrance, as an obligation. It is not optional in the Christian life. As the holy meal which set Christians apart from unbelievers we even see instances in history where whole congregations, after the arrest of their pastor, have turned themselves in to authorities for imprisonment, torture, and death. We see instances in history where, though being revealed as Christians is a capital offense, belivers have so boldly and vigorously sung the Agnus Dei and proclaimed Christ's words of institution as to draw attention and persecution to themselves. This is not optional. This is an opportunity to receive from Christ his very real body and blood, by which he nourishes us to eternal life.
I fear we often neglect the surrounding context in 1 Corinthians 11, though. So we take this opportunity, this day when we particularly remember Christ's institution of his supper, to remember what the apostle tells us.
First, in verses 17-22, we see that the communion meal is not a time for divisions. It is a time for unity, unity with God and unity with one another. It is a time of growing in unity and one accord. It is a time for breaking down divisions among ourselves. It is a time for preferring our brothers and sisters to ourselves. If we are not looking to our Lord to draw us together as one body, we are denying his unity with the Father. We are denying that he has actually redeemed us to be one people. We are denying that he has given us, collectively, his one nature. It is therefore not communion. May the Lord grant us repentance and forgiveness, drawing us into unity with one another.
Second, in verses 23-26 we see that Jesus has proclaimed this bread to be his true body, this cup to contain his true blood. Not only do we confess that this is true body and true blood, though we are only able to discern the bread and wine with our physical senses, we also confess that Jesus' body is broken for us and his blood is shed for us. It is a covenant, a holy promise, initiated by God, applied to us. We truly remember our Lord, the one who has promised to be with us. We proclaim his death on our behalf through this meal, frequently, until his coming. And we rest in that very promise that Jesus is indeed coming, just as he said.
Finally, in verses 27-32 we see that our eating and drinking unworthily judges us. We come to communion in repentance, as the Christian life is a life of repentance. And Paul clearly says that a lack of repentance brings evil upon Christians. Let us therefore turn to our Lord in repentance, that he may cleanse us from sin. Do we see an ever greater need for repentance as we consider his death on our behalf? Then let us turn to him again and again, knowing that our Lord is disciplining us, calling us to repentance, reminding us daily of his death on our behalf, from his great mercy, calling us to receive his forgiveness. This is God's protection, as through Jesus he separates us from the condemnation our sinful world will receive.
How do we look at communion? Rather, how does our Lord look at communion? It is a time of washing, a time of cleansing, a time of nourishment. May we look to our Lord and receive the cleansing he has provided through his body broken for us and his blood shed for us.
blogging at http://capnsaltyslongvoyage.blogspot.com