Sermon Notes from our Pastors


OCTOBER 1 , 2023

1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-28 (JOHN 6:53-57)
Late in the year 1739 eight or ten persons came to John Wesley, in London, asking him how to live the Christian life. And so he gave three simple, “general” rules: The way to live is…
First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind;
Secondly: By doing good; by being in every way merciful in whatever way possible;
Thirdly: By attending upon (or being consistent and intentional with) all the ordinances of God: The public worship of God, the ministry of the Word – either read or expounded, the Supper of the Lord, family and private prayer, searching the Scriptures, and fasting or abstinence.
What makes participating in “the Lord’s Supper,” or what we also call “Holy Communion,” so integral to
following Jesus? To put the question in another way: What’s “holy” about Communion? What is so different, so special, and so important about this sacrament? In the Protestant Church there are two “sacraments” (“sacred” or “holy” practices) – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper / Holy Communion. They are practices we consider sacred and keep doing them because Jesus commanded us to do so (Baptism – Matthew 28:19; The Lord’s Supper – Luke 22:19-20). Both are signs, or tangible means, of experiencing God’s unconditional, undeserved love (a.k.a. grace) that he has lavished upon us. All we need to do is receive it in faith, with open hearts; and we will experience the very real Presence of Christ in our lives.
In the Lord’s Supper Jesus took a yearly practice of the Jews – the Passover – and gave to it a new, radical
meaning. (I use “radical” in its original meaning which had to do with “roots,” what goes deep.) In it he gave us a tangible sign to experience his Presence in an ever deepening, real way.
l. The Sign of Provision-Presence
“This is my body…”
  • Jesus gives new meaning to the unleavened bread of the Passover meal. He is the bread that is without any “leaven” or influences that corrupt purity. He takes the first step and offers himself, the bread.
  • Jesus is the bread of life that brings sustenance – much more sustenance than even the manna gave the Israelites in the wilderness (John 6:35-51). Those that ate the manna hungered again and eventually died. But Jesus offers his body as the real bread of life. When we eat the communion bread in faith and the yearning for our spiritual hunger to be satisfied, he promises that that bread would be the means (the agency, the medium) of grace for Christ’s Presence to be experienced in our lives. The bread we receive is a visible sign of Jesus’ Presence in our lives. We would never hunger again, as well as we would enjoy the Resurrected life with him.
  • In the breaking of the bread and its sharing Jesus also signified that we now share in the one body – the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:29). We all have the “piece” of the same bread, and therefore Communion means we belong to each other.
ll. The Sign of Forgiveness Transformation
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood…”
  • This is most probably the third of the four cups in the Passover meal – the cup of Blessing. Here too Jesus gives new meaning. The wine (or grape juice for United Methodists) in the cup is the blood of Jesus that is shed on the Cross. He takes the first step and offers himself, his blood for our Deliverance.
  • The Lord’s Supper is in a sense the introduction to the New Covenant that God had promised in Jeremiah 31, and that he was now making through Christ’s death on the Cross. In Biblical times the making of the covenant always had to be sealed through the blood of a sacrifice. Jesus was proclaiming that he was that sacrifice, and his blood sealed the New Covenant. God would pay the price through a once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world. He was forever binding himself to humanity. All we need to do is respond in willingness (faith) to be part of this covenant relationship with God (grace).
  • When we drink the wine / grape juice in faith we are agreeing that sin is sin and Jesus has paid the high price for my sin, indeed for all our sin. In drinking the juice we are responding in faith to allow his blood to “wash” our sin, our past, cleanse our guilt. We intentionally receive his forgiveness / reminder of his forgiveness that sets us free to live a new life for/with him. We are also agreeing to our willingness for his new life-blood to transform us.
Holy means distinct, separate, special, set apart for God. Holy Communion is a sacrament that sets God’s people apart for himself as we eat and drink as one family, as one faith community. The content of the meal is Jesus himself – his very presence, sustenance, forgiveness, transforming – as we surrender ourselves to him in faith, and submit to each other in love and humility. It is a mystery, because we can never fully explain it, yet we grow in our experience in it. It is God’s means of grace in our lives.
Listen to one of my favorite songs: “Table of Grace” by Phillips, Craig and Dean