Roger's Postings

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Do this in remembrance of me!! 21/4/11

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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." 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." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes

Here in this reading tonight we are reminded of one very significant and important aspect of life here on earth for us as Christians. If there is one thing here in this life, that is to give us encouragement and strength for living it here in these words: here in this meal that we are about to partake of, which Jesus gave to us for this very purpose. Because we have difficulty in coming to grips with the Christian faith and life, and because we look for some assurance that God is with us, loves us, and forgives us, the Lord gives us this very special meal.

Our Lord knows very well that you and I get things out of kilter: that we find it difficult to remember that there is more to the Christian life than simply living a good life and coming to church a few times a year and then as long as we live a reasonably good life the rest of the time, then we will be OK. He knows that we either, fail to think about all that is wrong and sinful in our lives, or that we despair about whether we will be forgiven at all. He knows that we are tempted to place greater emphasis on ourselves and what we do, feel, and that kind of thing, than on what he has done for us in his death on the cross. He knows that we desperately need something physical and observable to assure us that he is present with us, in a world that is way off the track. All this is why he gave us something extra special to help us out: something to help us to never forget that which is vitally important for us.

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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." 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."

You see, Jesus gives us his very body and blood which he shed on the cross, so that we remember the importance of his death on the cross for us. In fact every time we celebrate the Lord's Supper, it is a day of remembrance; a day when we recall his death for our sin, and are reassured that we are forgiven: that we are a part of God's family; and that it is he who is all important in life for us.

But this request by Jesus is more than simply asking us to commemorate Jesus' death as an event in the distant past. It is much more than an opportunity to think back to what it must have been like that weekend when Jesus died and rose again. It is more than remembering the words and happenings that are recorded for us. It is more than simply recalling that night that Jesus shared this meal with his disciples and the events that followed. The Lord's Supper is much more than that.

So this is not now just some nice occasion for us to do something which merely reminds us of a past event. Instead, every time this meal is celebrated, past, present and future are united. The past event of the night before Jesus was betrayed and his death on the cross the next day, becomes for us his saving presence here and now. Jesus is really present with us here at the Altar Rail. We are inexplicably joined to that first Supper with the Lord and his disciples as we kneel at the altar rail – we are also kneeling at the foot of the cross with Jesus dying before our very eyes. Jesus’ actual body and blood is here given to us in the bread and wine to save us and reassure us this evening. At the same time, we at the Altar Rail are also joined into the heavenly feast with our Lord in his glory. There we also celebrate the great victory feast of all time, as God gathers together all who are saved into his glorified presence.

Think about that for while. This is amazing stuff. It is packed full of so much that is strengthening and encouraging for us. But of course, most important of all, is the fact that Jesus is truly present here with us tonight and every time we celebrate Holy Communion. When we eat the bread and drink the wine, we hear the words, ‘given and shed for you for the forgiveness sins,’ There we hear Jesus say to each one of us, ‘take and eat this is my body which hung on that cross for you, taking the punishment which should have been yours. Drink this blood which comes from my body, as I hung there on cross, so that you can be sure that your sins are forgiven you; absolutely sure. Take my body and blood into yourselves and know that I go with you as you live out your life every day.’

As our liturgy indicates week after week, in this Supper we are communing with the Lord, which is extremely comforting and encouraging. But also we are communing with every other true Christian past, present and future. So Holy Communion is not just a matter between me as an individual and the Lord, but it is a communing and fellowship with all like minded believers. That is why we drink from the common cup; to signify this unity and oneness. In the common cup we are united there, not only with other Christians in our congregation, but also with the angels and arch angels and the whole company of heaven: All receiving that which God would have for us , and then in turn us all joining in thanks and praise to the Lord Jesus for what he has done. So there we do have an extraordinary event – an extraordinary meal: something that surely has to be one of the greatest encouragements we can get for our Christian life.

Yes, here in the Lord's Supper we have the heart of life – the heart of our worship. For Paul here and for the Church throughout the ages, this Holy Communion is central to the ongoing existence of the Church in this life. We are God's forgiven people, joined in this meal to Christ and our fellow believers, both here and in eternity, strengthened both bodily and spiritually through the very presence of the Lord. With the same body and blood that you eat and drink, I do the same; and so does every other Christian. You then have Christ in and with you, just as I do; and we are united in this very special way. So we all become one - part of the one body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We, all together then, are being encouraged and encouraging each other, to focus on that which is truly important in life. Our Lord and each other, keeps pointing us to the cross: to Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that he offers each one us and all of us as a whole.

That is why Paul goes on to say, 'When you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim Lord's death until he comes.' You see, every time we come together at the Altar we are being told, and are telling each other , that Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we can be here today, and that we can be quite sure that we are forgiven and that eternal life is ours: that we can be quite sure that Jesus lives with us now as individuals and as a group; that he goes with us out of here into our everyday life; and that he stands there with us in our work, sport or wherever we might be. At the Lord's Table we are proclaiming that the events of that first Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are very special events, and that we are joined to it in a very special way. Through this we are further encouraged and strengthened to go on in our Christian life, and to face the future with confidence, peace and contentment because we know that we have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

So in many ways this is a victory celebration. A victory celebration ahead of time, and despite what we see when we look at ourselves, it is a celebration that far exceeds what many may do after they have won a footy grand final or whatever: Because here we continue to join with the Lord and all Christians in a lifetime victory feast – an eternal celebration. Yes, the victory that Jesus has won for all, through his death and resurrection. That victory is also ours now too as we are joined to the Lord and each other. It is here now as we come to the altar and receive the very body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every time we come forward, that same assurance; that same Lord, comes to us again and again, making us quite sure that we are forgiven and that we are one with the Lord Jesus, and that he goes with us into every aspect of our lives.

So in a few moments time, come forward and join with our Lord and those first disciples; with Christians of all times and places; and receive these gifts and assurances. Come and remember in a special way, Jesus and his death and resurrection, for you personally and for us all. Come and remember the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive him again as Lord and saviour. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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