A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work. The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on. In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition. No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.00 each. This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:
Do we perceive beauty?
Do we stop to appreciate it?
Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing? Not long after Christmas comes the Easter season. We are reminded that Christ was ’born to die.’ Lying in the cradle, within a stable, is the first gift of Christmas, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Over the next 33 years much will happen, leading from the stable to that table upon which the Last Supper was served.
On the front of many traditional communion tables are usually found the words, “This do in remembrance of Me.” When we come to observe this ordinance, it should be a time of remembrance of the difference Christ made—past, present, and future.
Charles Dickens wrote the now classic A Christmas Carol. A story that takes us through Christmas’s past, present and future. For a few moments before we honor the birth of our Lord by partaking in communion I want to remind you of the past present and future.
• CHRISTMAS PAST—Remember the Lord’s death
“4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,
“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer.
6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin.
7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about me in the Scriptures.’” Hebrews 10:4-7 NLT
-This death was made possible by His birth
There’s something special about little babies…so precious and perfect, so simple and serene. And that paper soft skin, and that smell! To watch a newborn sleep strengthens your soul of course it doesn’t take long until reality sets in! We are all born sinners in bodies that grow up to decay and eventually pass from this life.
Mary’s little Lamb or baby was the first truly spotless lamb. The Old Testament centered on the sacrifice of unblemished lambs. Jesus was to be the “once and for all” Lamb.
“First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). 9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.” Hebrews 10:8-10 NLT
We are given the opportunity to be made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.
He was God’s gift for our redemption.
Made possible by His birth…
-This death was made meaningful by His life
It was Christmas Past when that tiny gift was presented to the world, and that gift kept on giving as He kept not sinning. Perfect was this Lamb, living the life sinful man could not live. And He saved just as He gave gifts to all who would believe on Him—all who would unwrap God’s gift of the Savior…in Christmases Past!
Jesus desired to have a few last hours with His disciples to instruct them of some last things. This do—was the way of showing forth his death. And His death was made possible by His birth, and made meaningful by His life. He was born to die, that we might live!
-This death was made monumental by His resurrection!
[birth, life, death, then breath!]
He conquered death, hell, and the grave…and so His gift continues giving to us eternally!
• CHRISTMAS PRESENT—Remember the Lord’s steps [and walk in them]
The word “communion” is an action word which means: “fellowship, participate in, share together, have in common.” The observance is not simply keeping a dead memory alive. It is entering into the presence of one who lived, died, was raised from the dead by the power of God, and is alive forevermore. Above all that He is present with us always and is represented here and now—at the table. Christmas should be much more about this table than a stable.
Jesus wanted to have communion with His disciples. He wanted them to think often of Him. He wanted them to walk as He walked…and He wants us to, as well.
I Peter 2:21
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[k] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
He left us here to continue His work and legacy and He promised in…
12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father."
We are a fellowship of believers. When we sit at the Lord’s table, it is as if we were present with Jesus during that final meal. Most definitely, He is with us.
At the Lord’s table we call to mind the high cost of our salvation. While it is free to us, it cost Christ dearly—His very body and life’s blood.
Sometimes, in the things we do, we don’t show honor His death as much as He requires. We are called to walk in His steps and follow His example with our lives.
Before we finish considering Christmas Present, have you considered what will be your Christmas Present to the One Whose birthday it’s all about? Make sure He gets the best…make sure and spend the most, and make sure the “thoughts that count” are in place today and throughout the season, and beyond!
• CHRISTMAS FUTURE—Remember His return
I Cor. 11:26
For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
Did three words ever tell more? “Until He comes.”
Jesus spoke of His coming kingdom. He Who came into the world will take us out of the world before the coming judgment!
When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are to remember the promise of His return. The Last Supper wasn’t really the last, for the next supper is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and the table is already being set!
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.
8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters[c] who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.[d]”
And as we think of the 3 tenses of Christmas—past, present, and future—let us be sure to remember that our past is forgiven and forgotten [or can be!], that our present is a gift of life that cannot be purchased, but rather has purchased [redeemed] us, and that our future is unwritten except for the end…we know what the back of the book says. Take your clean slate, and walk in His steps, until He comes!
As we approach the Lord’s table, let’s do as we do when we approach our own and give thanks…for the stable where it all started, for the sinless life, and for the body and the blood, sacrificed for us. He Who was born to die didn’t stop there…He died that we might live, and He rose to make it possible!
Living He loved me, dying He saved me, buried He carried my sins far away, rising He justified, freely forever, and one day He’s coming, Oh glorious day!