1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For 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.
The sermon tonight was about Holy Communion. My roommate and I attended church at Redeemer Fellowship (www.redeemerkansascity.org) with a couple of mutual friends. It was one of those friends’ first time in a church (not on Christmas or Easter) in almost 10 years! I was nervous when we first got there but thankfully God calmed my heart so I could focus on what Kevin was preaching.
Kevin talked about how the different denominations within Christianity act out these passages from the Catholics who think the bread and wine are literally Jesus’ body to the Lutherans who think Jesus is the presence around the sacraments, to us, who know this is just bread and wine from the grocery store but that we are symbolically acting out Jesus’ love and commitment to us. Communion links the one unique sacrifice of Jesus on the cross with God’s promise to come again as often as we celebrate communion (which is every week at Redeemer).
Kevin also discussed the juice vs. wine debate. I had never really thought about this discussion too much before but apparently this is an American and recent struggle. A Methodist minister named Thomas Welch started making juice to offer his congregation during the prohibition era. Thomas later left the faith to become the well known juice maker of Welch’s juice and a dentist (moral judgement to you – he sold sugary drinks for kids and then side-lined fixing those same teeth). Redeemer has used juice in the past because they did not want to be a stumbling block for those struggling with alcoholism but tonight announced that we will have wine (and juice) sine that is what Jesus chose to bless – two of the most common elements available at that time.
Jesus taught us about communion during the passover meal. A meal that was full of ceremony and important steps to ensure that your family was passed over by the spirit during the plagues of Egypt (the last of these killing the first born sons of the family). Instead of progressing the meal as usual, Jesus took the bread and cup and told the disciples that it was actual him that they were celebrating – not the slaughtering of a four-legged lamb. Imagine celebrating Christmas each year and then one year when you’re in your mid-20s, having a family friend tell you that the holiday is actually all about them. This is basically what Jesus was doing when he taught the disciples communion for the first time.
I am sure glad that they got it right. There are lots of aspects of the Christian faith that require belief and actions of us to demonstrate God’s love to the rest of the world but communion is one action that God gave to us to tangibly act out our faith. Every time we eat the bread and drink from the cup we are renewing our faith in the promise that Jesus will come again and that his death more than covered up our sins before God.
The four of us went out to dinner after the service and discussed different aspects of the message and our upbringings. It was nice to have an open conversation about differences within denominations. The food at Aladdin’s is always worth the trip too!
I also stopped by Starbucks and had a quick cup of coffee with a lady from the church. I have decided to join the Scripture Reading ministry team. She gave me some basic training and got to know me before taking down my schedule for the next couple months. Hopefully I’ll be able to start impacting the worship experience at Redeemer pretty soon!