Review: We worship God because he created us to worship him. He equips us to worship him. In the everyday realities of time and matter, God gives us ways to worship him. The rituals and rhythms of worship have been passed on to us, but each generation must claim them and make them their own.
Throughout the ages Gods people have gathered together to praise him in song and petition him in prayer. Why? Because he made us to worship him.
They have gathered by the waters to be baptized. Why? Because he made us to worship him.
And so also, Gods people have gathered around a table. Just because God made us to worship him. There has always been some sort of Lords Table. Eating and drinking in the presence of God has roots that extend back through all the festivals of Israel to that simple meal of bread and wine between Abraham and Melchizedek. We shouldnt dismiss these festivals as mere ceremony of symbolism. As I hope we can understand today, ceremony and symbolism are critical to being human and being Gods people. Worshipping God is more than a mental exercise. It is a living activity. And the symbols and practices of our worship are alive. Done rightly, they are part of our worship to God and after all God created us to worship him.
I Corinthians 11:23-26
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Paul was passing on a living participation in a real event that held significance for the past, present and future. At the time he writes this to the Corinthians, the Lords Supper communion was already quite established in the practice of the Christian community. In fact, Paul is writing this because the Corinthians participation in the Lords Supper had become something of a disgrace. They werent paying proper attention to the symbols ...
When it comes to the table of the Lord and the Lords supper there is much historical debate about the meaning of the elements: bread and wine. It wont do us much good to get into all of that now. Besides, it really misses the point to try and dissect how symbols work. Why cant we just understand how we engage and respond to symbols and the realities in which they (and we) participate ...
Which brings us to the Table of the Lord: In the worship festivals that Gods people have participated in throughout the ages there is often a rhythm of sacrifice and thanksgiving. Through sacrificial love God provides reconciliation and redemption. A new hope is made real and the opportunity of new relationship between Creator God and his creation is established. And that relationship is important to worship.
When we come to the Table of the Lord and eat the Lords Supper of bread and wine we need to understand that this is a thanksgiving meal. This is a supper of peace and reconciliation. The war has been fought. This is the table of peace. (Just as it was with Abraham and Melchizedek). God has defeated the enemy at the cross. Sin has been atoned for. Because of that, we are welcomed to Gods dinner table.
Consider what this means as we participate in these symbols that embody this very great and life-transforming reality:
Read Luke 24:28-36.
So, welcome to the table of the Lord ...
Focus on the Bread:
When those disciples at Emmaus sat down for a humble meal of bread, they recognized Christ when he broke the bread and gave it to them. God is located very near us. He is as close as the food we need to survive. The bread is the body of Christ broken for us. It embodies a reality that we hold dear and sacred. Receive this spiritual food with thanksgiving and in response to Gods desires that you share this meal with him and with one another. He is here in the breaking of the bread.
Focus on the Cup:
When those disciples at Emmaus knew that they had been in the presence of the Lord, they were moved from being downcast to being excited. This cup is a cup of thanksgiving. It is a festive celebration that our brokenness cannot keep us apart from Gods love. Receive this spiritual drink with thanksgiving and in response to Gods desire to share in this festive drink and look forward to the day that we will drink a new cup with him in the kingdom to come.
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