July 6, 2013

Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sermon

Christians Communicate
Sixth Sunday after Trinity
July 7 2013

The sermons in Trinity have been about what Christians do, and today’s is entitled, “Christains Communicate.” When I say, “communicate” I don’t mean talking or social media.  I am referring to coming to the Lord’s Table in that worship which we call, “The Lord’s Supper,” or, “Holy Communion.”  One of greatest privileges in this world is that of being a communicant in the Lord’s Church, and of kneeling together at the communion rail. Let us, therefore, take a few moments this morning to consider just what it means to say, “Christians Communicate.”

When Christian communicate, that is, when we kneel together to receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion, the first and most obvious thing we are doing is remembering Jesus Christ.  He Himself told us to do this in remembrance of Him. More specifically, we do this in remembrance of His death.  The bread commemorates His body broken for us in His crucifixion.  The wine commemorates His blood, poured out from His body on the cross.  “This is my body, which is broken for you,” He said.  “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”  When the minister breaks the bread, it symbolizes the breaking of Christ’s body.  It symbolises the scourge and the nails and the spear and the cross. When the minister pours the wine it symbolises the blood of Christ pouring out of His wounds.  Christ died.  This is what we remember at the communion rail.

The second thing we do at the communion rail is proclaim the Gospel.  We tell the story of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  We proclaim the message that the Son of God came to earth to give Himself as the ransom for our sins.  We proclaim that the cross was His victory, not His defeat.  We testify that His body was broken for our sins.  We proclaim that His blood was shed for sinners.  The Bible says when we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord’s death.  We set forth, in a most dramatic way, a portrait, and, in a sense, a re-enactment of His crucifixion.  We portray in our actions what the Bible proclaims in well beloved words; “He was wounded for our transgressions.” “With His stripes we are healed.” “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The third thing we do at the communion rail is fellowship with one another.  I once heard a man say that at the communion rail he tried to put everyone and everything out of his mind, except Christ.  I have heard many sermons saying that is what we are supposed to do at the Lord’s Table.  “It’s just Jesus and me,” they say.  They are wrong.  Nothing could be more obvious than that we come to the rail together.  We come together and we partake together because Christ has brought us together.  We were scattered sheep, lost, and going our own ways.  But Christ has brought us back to His fold, and now we are one flock.  We are one body.  We are one spiritual family.  We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit; the Temple, not the Temples.  We are partakers of the same Christ, the same forgiveness, the same grace, the same Father.  These things make us one.  That is why we come to the Table as one.

I’m going to tell you something most people don’t know.  The Biblical passages that record and deal with the Lord’s Supper all use the plural number when addressing those who come to Communion.  Luke 22:19 says Jesus gave the bread to “them.”  When He said, “do this in remembrance of me,” “do” is plural, for, like Latin, Greek has singular and plural forms for verbs as well as nouns.  The words “take” and “eat” in Matthew 26:26 are plural, as is “drink” in Matthew 26:27.  There is a very important point to be understood here; just as God never intended a person to be a Christian in solitude, He also never intended a person to come to the Holy Communion in solitude.  We come together, as part of Christ’s Church.  There is no other way.  And so, we come together, we kneel together, and we partake together.  We fellowship in Christ at His Table.

The fourth thing we do here is proclaim our own faith in Christ.  When the minister passes the bread he says to you all, “Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith.”  There is great symbolism here.  As we take the bread and wine into our bodies, we also take Christ into our souls by faith.  We are saying, by our actions of eating and drinking that we believe in Christ.  We believe the Bible.  We believe the Gospel.  We believe that He died for our sins.  And we trust in the sacrifice He made on the cross to make us right with God on earth now, and in Heaven forever.  We are saying we believe that the forgiveness of sins, and all other benefits of His death and passion are ours.

The fifth thing we do at the communion rail is feed our souls on Christ.  Actually it is not so much that we feed on Him as that we are fed by Him. Being fed is much more a ministry done for us by Him than an act accomplished by us.  Let me make it clear that the bread and wine are not transformed into the real body and blood of Christ in any way.  They are and remain only bread and wine.  So we are not being fed Christ’s literal body in any way.  We are being fed in our souls, by the remembrance of His death, and the promise that those who believe in Him are forgiven and restored to fellowship with God.  We are fed spiritual food, which is the assurance of God’s  “favour and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of [His] Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through the hope of [His] everlasting kingdom, by the merits of [Christ’s] most precious death and passion.”   That is meat for the soul; feed on it.

Today we have come to the Table.  We have come to receive Holy Communion.  In a few moments we will kneel at the rail and receive the bread and wine.  We will “take and eat.”  We will “drink ye all” of the cup.  As we come, let us remember His death and sacrifice for our sins.  Let us proclaim in the breaking of bread and pouring of wine that Christ’s body was broken, and His blood was shed, and He suffered, and bled, and died for us.  Let our eating and drinking proclaim our faith that through His death we are made right with God forever. And let the grace of God assure our hearts that we are forgiven and accepted by Him through Christ.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.X