Every now and then when I am in the storage room in our house I will pull this box of pictures off the shelf. In this box is the history of our family from the time of our sons birth up through elementary and until the advent of digital cameras! It doesn’t take long sometimes for me to find a tear trickling down my cheek or a smile on my face as I look and remember stories and events of the past.
This is my ipod and on this small piece of technology is contained every song from every CD I own. It is eclectic and has everything from acapella Mennonite Choirs to Bob Dylan. It has Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson singing hymns and Mendelssohn’s Elijah Oratorio. Every now and then it will play a song that will touch a time period from my past and I will remember with unusual clarity.
God has intentionally made your mind and my mind with the ability to not just remember but to relive in vivid detail some of the experiences of our past. He has done this because often we have a very destructive habit.
Destructive Habit: Wondering Heart
Left to ourselves our hearts may wonder from our friends, our spouses, and family. Left to our selves our hearts wonder from God.
God has created us in such a way that certain actions or things can spark us to remember things that happened in our life in years gone by. We reconnect because we remember our past with emotions and we relive it with all the struggles and joys of the experience.
It is a struggle to maintain the intimacy that is required for relationships to grow. You have to really want it to happen with your children as they move away or parents or even friends. It takes an unbelievable amount of time energy and effort for our marriages and relationships with people we love to grow as time goes on.
Left to ourselves marriages drift apart and left to ourselves friendships drift apart. Here is a startling thought:
If it is that easy to drift apart from people you can see and touch and talk to anytime of the day then how much easier is it to drift away from a God who loves us but that we can’t see!
Knowing our capacity to recall and connect to events from the past, Jesus attached something very important to a historic Jewish holy day. It was an annual event when Jews everywhere as they do this day recounted the deliverance of God on behalf of His people. It was symbolic when it happened and included blood on the door post and being passed over by the death angel because of obeying God’s requirements.
Just before He left this planet on one of His last night’s alive, Jesus Christ put something into place that had historic roots of remembrance that would cause those who participated in it to remember and proclaim deliverance.
We now call it The Lord’s Supper. He brought His disciples around him and taught them to do this because He knew that it is very easy to lose your first love. You can be moral and religious and work around the church and the community doing incredible things but you can also drift away unless you put time and energy into sustaining the relationship between you and God.
You can let your heart drift away from God.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Revelation 2:4 NIV
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Revelation 2:4 NLT
If you are wondering who spoke those words it was Jesus. Before we look at those words in context I want you to notice this point.
1. We all struggle with sustaining the intensity and intimacy required for relationships to grow
Listen to the context of Jesus’ words:
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lamp stands:
2 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3 You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
You are a good person. You do all kinds of things. You get up early and read the Bible, you pray on a daily basis, you give biblically a tithe of everything God gives you, you work in the church, you love God, you share your faith, you help out with Kid City, you work on community outreaches, you are trying to be the man or woman of God that you think you ought to be.
But Jesus is knocking:
4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lamp stand from its place among the churches. Revelation 2:1-5 NLT
Just like muscles that grow weak from non use, in all of our work and efforts to make a difference our hearts can grow cold and weak. And so God had a plan.
GOD’S SOLUTION: FOCUSED REMEMBRANCE
2. The ancient path of “breaking bread” together restores our spiritual passion by forcing us to do certain things:
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42 NLT
Breaking Bread forces us to:
Remember who Jesus is and what He’s done for us
When you hold the bread and cup a few moments from now Jesus wants us to STOP and remember. Just like what happens when you view a picture from your past or listen to an old song that takes you back, you are to “do this to remember me.”
We remember who He really is.
We remember what He has done for you and me.
23For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NLT
It is not insignificant that we are coming to the Lord’s Table on Memorial Day weekend. We are to remember much like many of you have done or will do over the next few hours. People will spend a lot of time in cemeteries this weekend.
This word remember, has Old Testament roots that meant among other things blowing trumpets to announce to God that the sacrifice you were about to make was in honor of Him. This word also has the idea of bringing into vivid memory or conscientiousness.
This is not about getting a cup and a piece of bread and having a quick thought about Jesus and then hurrying out the door to get to lunch. That would be the equivalent of partaking unworthily.
This is about remembering where you were sitting when the message of Jesus changed your life. Where were you and what has happened since Jesus came in to your life to transform you? It’s about thinking deeply and contemplating the amazing life changing work of Christ in you. It’s bringing into your mind with emotion the fact that if you were the only person on earth Christ would have died for you. He would have gone through everything He went through just for you. You remember what you were before Jesus came into your life. You may have been a phony and false in your relationships but now Jesus has given you a new life and you are a changed person from the inside out.
We all struggle to believe one of the greatest truths of all times and that is that Jesus really loves us. We play games to try to gain His favor but understand today as you remember Jesus really loves you because of who He is not because of who you are.
We announce His death with participation in communion because we are changed and our partaking proclaims what Jesus has done to others.
Now we invite you to remember.
Video: Remembering Jesus
Remember who we are and our present need of repentance
The Lord’s Supper is a time to look upward and outward but it is also a time to let God look deeply into our lives. The reason people fall away from their first love of God is because they allow little things, little sins to enter their lives and they begin to drift away and instead of coming back they just start faking it.
This is a time to recalibrate your soul. We remember what Jesus has done and take that knowledge and examine ourselves in light of who Jesus is and who He wants us to be.
27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.
31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 NLT
Notice there is a:
Verse 27 – The Warning: Don’t do this unworthily (unbelievers should just watch and observe, unconfessed sin in a believers life,) Those are “no brain’ explanations. Really this means don’t do this by just going through the motions. Don’t have the memorial without the meaning behind it. (hurry up and get communion over with so we can go watch Sunday sports on TV)
This brings us back to our first love. This puts us into a recalibration of our soul.
Verse 28 – The Instruction: Examine yourself: Take personal inventory. When you do this God will bring specific things to mind so be ready to hear and deal with your life.
Verse 29-30 – The Reason: Examine your relationships “in the body” 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. Many people would come early in the early church and eat their fill before the poor would come in. You must ask how am I doing with other in Christ’s body?
Verse 30-32 – The Application: North Star: Submarine story. Submarines have to surface every 60 to 90 days. The missiles have to be recalibrated to the North Star because when they are submerged the magnetic pull of the earth’s poles is so great it can make them a fraction of a degree off and that is unacceptable. The only way to keep the sub in line is to surface and connect to the North Star and the satellites going around the earth. That’s a picture of our need to intentionally stop all that we are doing and reconnect with our Lord. We do it daily through His word and prayer but communion insures that we will pause even those things and just reflect.
Some of you are hearing this explanation for the first time and you have no idea where you are with God. You have a pretty good idea and you know it it’s not where you should be but I have good news. You can be right with God today. He was broken for you on the cross and Jesus shed His blood so that you and I could have eternal life. Jesus did this so that we could be forgiven and our lives could have focus.
Pray and ask the Lord to come into your life and forgive you for your sins. Ask Him to change you from the inside out. This is a great time to connect with God even for the first time. Pray search me O God and know my heart.
Silence followed by Holy, Holy, Holy
Our first response is remembering with sincere appreciation what God has done. Our second is self evaluation. Our third response is about making sure we are right with others who are in the body of Christ.
Remember who we are as fellow members of His family
17 But in the following instructions, I cannot praise you. For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. 18 First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. 19 But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized!
20 When you meet together, you are not really interested in the Lord’s Supper. 21 For some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk. 22 What? Don’t you have your own homes for eating and drinking? Or do you really want to disgrace God’s church and shame the poor? What am I supposed to say? Do you want me to praise you? Well, I certainly will not praise you for this!” 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 NLT
Paul knows this church. They are his children in the faith. He is dismayed because of what is going on in the church regarding the treatment of fellow believers.
The other bookend is found in verse 33-34, “So, now my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other. IF you are really hungry eat at home so you won’t bring judgment upon yourselves when you meet together.”
We are to be servants, to share and to love.
We are to express our love for God whom we can’t see by expressing our love and devotion to each other that we can see.
Now we invite you to the table of our Lord.
We are going to let you stay in your seats and during this song you the elements will be passed out to you. We ask that you wait till everyone has been served and we will partake together as the gathered body of Christ. All who intend to lead a life of Christ following are invited to participate.
May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for you, preserve your soul and body unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on Him in your heart with faith and thanksgiving.
May the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for you, preserve your soul and body unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for you and be thankful.
Benediction: May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.