Have children come up front and do children’s minute with them:
Objects needed: A piece of string, a pad of Post-It Notes, an electronic pocket calendar (Kindle), a throw away communion cup and a piece of communion bread
Do you ever have trouble remembering things? Of course you do. Children haven't changed much since I was your age. I can remember when I was a boy and my mother would ask me, "Did you clean up your room?" I would usually answer, "I forgot." Or she might ask me, "Did you take out the trash like I told you to?" "I forgot" was my usual reply. I still have trouble remembering now that I am grown. I am always forgetting something that I was supposed to do.
People have many ways to help them to remember things. One of the oldest memory tricks is a simple piece of string. Sometimes I tie a string around my wrist and every time I look at the string, I remember that I was supposed to...hmm, I forgot what it was I was supposed to remember. That's why someone invented post-it notes. With post-it notes, you can write down what it is you need to remember. The only trouble with post-it notes is that I sometimes forget to look at the notes! Now, here is a really hi-tech way to help you remember things. It is an electronic pocket scheduler. You can put in what you are supposed to remember and set an alarm. When it is time for you to do it, the alarm goes off and you can read on the display what it is you are supposed to do. I can't use the pocket scheduler right now because the battery is dead and I keep forgetting to charge it.
Being forgetful isn't new. It has been around since just about the beginning of time. The night Jesus was betrayed, he was eating with his disciples. He knew that he would soon return to his Father in heaven. He wanted to make sure that his disciples would remember him after he was gone, so he did something that would help them to remember. What did Jesus do to help us remember? Hold up a communion cup and piece of bread. It has been almost 2000 years since that night and we still use that same way to remember Jesus.
One time a little boy came to church and he was upset because he didn’t get to eat the bread and drink the juice like his mother. He said that he wanted a snack but his mom wouldn’t let him have the bread or the juice. When do we get to take the Lord’s Supper? Is the Lord’s Supper just a snack? Let us pray (Adapted from Sermons4Kids at: http://www.sermons4kids.com/lest_we_forget.html)
Baptism- a one time event- marks the believer’s entrance into the new covenant with Christ and His church. The Lord’s Supper- an ongoing practice- enables Christians continuing fellowship in covenant with Christ and His church.
The early church “devoted themselves ... to the breaking of bread.” Many times the early Christians observed the Lord’s Supper in conjunction with a fellowship meal, a love feast. Now the focal part of that meal was the Lord’s Supper, remembering Jesus body and blood. There were some abuses to this so Paul discouraged the Corinthians Christians from having a love feast along with the Lord’s Supper. This is followed today. However, for the early Christians they gathered in celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week and shared in the Lord’s Supper. This was important to them and should be to us.
Thesis: The Lord’s Supper is an act of...
An Act of Remembrance
Many people today are looking for an experience. Today's generation is much more used to multi-sensory "experiences." Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are experiences that engaged the senses. Baptism involves the whole person, body and soul. The Lord’s Supper invites us to hold and taste bread, broken from a loaf, and to look upon and drink from a cup of juice.
As we experience this, we must remember what this all means. “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, NIV.
This phrase “an unworthy manner” is further defined in the phrase, “without recognizing the body of the Lord.” This can be taken in two ways:
1. The body of the Lord refers to the physical body of Christ that was crucified. The immediate context points toward this interpretation; in the previous paragraph, Paul recounted Christ’s words in the upper room where he called followers to partake in remembrance of his broken body and shed blood. This means that we are not recognizing the sacrifice of Christ through the bread and juice. We can almost feel Paul’s glare toward the church in Corinth for treating the Lord’s Supper with a flippant attitude. The memory of the cross demands reverence.
An Act of Community
2. The second way this can be taken is to interpret the phrase, “the body of the Lord” (vs. 29) not with the physical body of Christ on the cross, but with the church. Those who propose this view explain that here Paul is referring to the church, the body of Christ. In support, the wider context of Corinthians demonstrates that the problem in Corinth related to their lack of unity while approaching the Lord’s Supper- not a lack of focus on Christ, but on the unity of Christ’s church. This fits well with “So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.” 1 Corinthians 11:33, 34, NIV. This “judgement” in vs. 34 points back to vs. 29. “Judgment” comes when one “eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord,” a recognition which includes waiting for one another “when you come together to eat.”
Many take the view, and it is not wrong, that Paul is referring to approaching the Lord’s Supper in a flippant manner. However, this second view warns against approaching the Lord’s Supper while in disunity with other Christians. This is the community aspect.
Paul is probably using a play on the term “body” that incorporates both views. Throughout this section of 1 Corinthians, Paul weaves in and out of discussion of church unity and of the crucifixion of Christ. He uses the term “body” in both contexts, forcing us to view our unity in light of Christ’s sacrifice. An example of this occurs here: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17, NIV. In the first occurrence, “body” refers to the physical body of Christ on the cross. In the second occurrence, “body” refers to the unified community of Christians, the church. Paul deliberately uses both meanings- Christ’s physical body, and the church- into the same teaching.
A good doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, therefore, includes both a vertical relationship (us to Christ in heaven), and horizontal relationships (brother and sisters in Christ). The Lord’s Supper does not involve only the individual and God, if that were the case we could partake of the Lord’s Supper at home without anyone assisting and be fine. However, the NT does not permit this. As the NT presents it, the Lord’s Supper involves individuals in the church, and their relationships with God and with one another.
An Act of Participation
1 Corinthians 10:16 says that we participate in the blood of Christ. When Jesus commanded His followers to partake “in remembrance” of Him (11:24,25) this instruction called for more than a mental recollection of facts, as one might mindlessly quote the alphabet or multiplication tables. Jesus calls us to deeply consider, contemplate, and meditate upon Him and His crucifixion and what this means to us. Such “remembrance,” more than just a mental exercise, enables participation in Jesus’ sacrifice.
“Who am I?” For a Christian this is a question that should keep us grounded. In one aspect we must be something because the King of the whole universe came and died on a cross for our sins. In another aspect we are the ones who put Him there with our sins so we should be of a broken and contrite heart. This kind of meditation on the atonement is beneficial and should be a meditation that constantly goes through our minds. "Who am I?"should be pondered during communion but also during the week.
An Act of Ongoing Proclamation
“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26, NIV.
Preaching is encouraged in the NT, but the Lord’s Supper itself is proclamation. In partaking we preach the gospel- the death, burial, resurrection and Second Coming of Christ.
While the Lord’s Supper rightly has a somber element, this somberness must not completely dominate the atmosphere. Early Christian partook of the 1st day of the week to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and that was not a somber event. Many refer to the Lord’s Supper as the Eucharist, meaning thanksgiving. The death and resurrection of Christ changed history, it changed our present and our futures.
Until he comes means that Christians will continually, repeatedly proclaim Christ through the Lord’s Supper, until the day He returns. The most common objection to weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper involves a fear that this would grow too routine and mundane. Think of it this way, at a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, ask the wife, “What’s your secret?” She said, “Every day of our marriage he has given me a kiss and told me that he loves me.” Had this practice grown routine and mundane for this wife? Had she tired of hearing those words, of tasting that kiss? In a loving relationship, expressions of affection never grow tiresome. This holds true of a loving relationship with God, and the practice of the Lord’s Supper.