Why Communion Matters
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer[a] for each person you have in your tent.’”
17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” Exodus 16:13-18
Intro: At a countywide gathering of local religious leaders, someone shouted: "The building is on fire!"
The Methodists gathered in the corner and began to discuss and debate the meaning of fire.
The Baptists yelled, "Where's the water?"
The Lutherans posted a notice on the door declaring fire to be evil.
The Episcopalians formed a processional and marched out of the building in decency and order.
The Catholics took pledges to cover the expenses of repairs after the fire.
The Christian church meditated on whether there really was a fire at all.
The Pentecostals praised God and shouted, "Holy Smoke!"
The Community Non-Denominationalist split into three groups went out and started three new churches.
On this first Sunday of October, Christians around the world will bow in elaborate cathedrals,
to open air meetings to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion.
We call it Worldwide Communion Sunday.
World Communion Sunday was started in 1940.
It was meant to be a way to unify denominations and people through celebrating things we have in common.
Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptist and some other groups began to promote the idea across their mission networks outside the United States so there would be more of a feel of worldwide Communion on that day.
It is an invitation for people of all classes and colors, backgrounds and beliefs, traditions and testimonies
to join hands and hearts in love and loyalty to Jesus Christ.
Welcome to the table of diversity.
So let me help us understand what tolerance is in our day.
We live in a difficult time in the life of the United Methodist Church.
As a church member you are challenged just as much as those of us who stand in the pulpit
to understand our beliefs
and share and teach them gently with love and compassion.
Tolerance is not believing what you want,
doing what you wish,
acting the way you choose
That's not belief.
Tolerance is being so sure of the power of God in Christ that you feel no threat from those who think otherwise.
Before I join a church, I would ask to know "Is everyone welcome at the table?"
Before I join a church I want to know “Are women full and equal to be pastors as God has called them to be."
Before I join a church I'd ask the question, “Are children valued as whole persons to be baptized?”
Before I join a church I'd want to know “Are other religions respected
and are the baptisms of other denominations accepted?"
Let us never forget at whose table we bow before today.
If this were an ordinary meal you could get more food at a back yard barbecue,
more excitement tailgating at a ball game,
and maybe even more fellowship.
But we come to participate in the Body and the Blood of Christ.
We come to profess our faith in salvation of the Cross,
to claim redemption of the resurrection,
to become one in Christ who has the power to make us one and unified with one another.
You see Christ does not become fragmented in us
rather we become unified in Him.
That is why Communion Matters.
Communion is the single must unifying action we do as believers.
Jesus knew that after the cross the disciples would be scared, scattered, and divided.
But he gave them a command: As often as you break this bread do so in remembrance of me.
In remembrance of what?
The sacrifice on the cross. Yes,
The resurrection from the tomb. Yes.
On the Road to Emmaus
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
As they walked that seven miles with Jesus
beginning with Moses and all the Prophets
all the things leading up to his crucifixion Jesus explained to them.
As they drew near to the village to which they were going.
He acted as if he was not going any farther,
but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is close to evening and the day is now far spent.”
So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.
And at that moment their eyes were opened, and they recognized it was Jesus.
And then he vanished from their sight.
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road,
while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.
And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
saying, “The Lord has risen indeed and has appeared as Simon has said!
Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
In remembrance of what?
It is in the breaking of the bread and drinking of the cup.
That Christ is revealed.
And the fellowship of believers is made stronger.
We don't reduce Christ to who we are;
He raises us to what He is.
Or as the author of Colossians said in 1:17 "In Him all things hold together."
God is not only the creator God is the sustainer.
God is the protector and preventer from everything disintegrating into chaos and total disorder.
In today’s Scripture lesson from Exodus, the Israelites seem to be having a little trouble trusting God.
We all know the story.
After spending many years as slaves in Egypt, the Lord sent Moses to help them break free from their captivity. Moses challenged Pharaoh and got him to let God’s people go.
So Moses led them out of slavery and across the Red Sea.
He then led them across the desert, about two hundred and fifty miles,
until they reached the point in the story for today:
a place called Rephidim, about twenty-five miles from Mt. Sinai.
At this point they’d been on the road for a long time, probably several months.
They were tired.
They were frustrated.
They were starting to have doubts, not just about their present situation, but about their future.
They were no longer trusting
that through Moses, God really was going to lead them to a new place, a better place.
In addition to being tired and frustrated, they were also hungry and thirsty.
They had begun to question whether their leader, Moses, was even leading them in the right direction.
They questioned whether it had been wise to follow Moses.
They wondered if, perhaps, somewhere along the way, something had gone wrong with their leader.
Maybe Moses didn’t know the way.
Maybe he’d led them in the wrong direction.
After all, God had not promised them a dry, desert land with no food and no water.
God had promised them a land flowing with milk and honey.
The wilderness of Rephidim was not flowing with anything.
And so, in their tired, frustrated, hungry, thirsty, despairing state of mind, the people rebelled.
They decided that they had put their trust in a faulty leader who had led them the wrong way.
And not only that–they also decided that they’d made a big mistake to trust in the Lord God.
So they did what people tend to do when they get angry and frightened, tired and hungry, and thirsty and upset.
They looked for someone to blame, a scapegoat for their grievances: Moses.
"Why did you lead us out here?
We'll die out here!
My feet hurt.
I need a bath.
I've got a blister on my toe.
My sandals are too tight.
Egypt was better.
At least Egypt had water.
At least Egypt had beds.
At least Egypt had security.
You’ve led us astray, Moses. You’re a loser!
We’re never going to get to this so-called land of promise, and it is your fault!"
So Moses, whom God had called to lead the people to freedom,
finds himself once again under attack by the very people he has risked his life to help.
Why are we humans this way?
Why do we, instead of trusting the Lord,
decide that it’s a better use of our time and energy to find someone to blame?
Maybe the God has you right where he wants you to be.
Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down.
Sometimes you are in and sometimes you are out.
Sometimes you know where you are going and sometimes you are confused.
“For all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Ever valley has a purpose.
Ever mountain has a purpose.
Ever dessert has a purpose.
Ever bush in the dessert has a purpose.
Ever struggle has a purpose.
Ever pain has a purpose
Ever friend has a purpose
Ever enemy that comes against you has a purpose.
God is going to use everything you go through in life to get you where he wants you to be.
The first appointment I was given to pastor was three churches.
There was the main church in town and two smaller churches out in the county.
On a good Sunday the main church would have about 60
So it was about the size of either the 8:30 or 10:45
One of the churches in the county had about 25 on a Sunday.
But the other church had 7 it didn’t have 6 it didn’t have 8.
It had 7.
There were not visitors.
And if any one member got sick they called me the night before and said,
They had called off church because someone was sick.
I often asked God, why did you send me to pastor such a small church?
I realize now that it was to teach me that no matter how large or how small the congregation was
The Word of the Lord needed to be preached.
“Where two or three are gathered together in the Name of Jesus, he has promised to be there with them.”
Let me tell you it just takes me and you and one other person to have church.
Shoot, I love to preach. I love to preach so much you are liable to see preaching by myself.
Learn this lesson: Jesus is teaching us…, that in the body of believers (in the church)
when any two or three genuine, sincere Christians will agree together and pray together
it is more powerful than thousands of superficial people.
Because Christ’s Holy Spirit is with them.
And two or three believers filled with the Holy Spirit
And praying in agreement with the Holy Spirit of God’s will, and not their own will;
God will reward and answer their prayer of faith.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, tells us that instead of complaining about one another,
we ought to: "Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other;
just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" (Colossians 3:13).
The Key to forgiving others is in Communion.
Communion is remembering what Jesus has done for you.
Communion is remembering how much God has forgiven you.
Why is it difficult for you to forgive someone who has wronged you of so little.
When God has forgiven you of so much?
When you remember God’s infinite forgiveness
It will result in your loving and forgiving others.
That’s part of “Why Communion Matters”
It is in the Remembering that we are forgiven and that is how we can let go and forgive others.
If somebody needed to hear this message say “Amen.”
Have you ever tried to find a loophole when you are faced with a test?
This week a student at a community college in Maryland
saw on his syllabus that he could take a 3X5 card to take the final exam.
He saw a loophole.
The Professor meant a 3X5 inch card.
But the student brought in a 3X5 feet card.
In this case the professor was not clear…,
and allowed the student to keep all the information he had on the poster board size 3X5 card.
After all the grumbled and complained and blaming Moses about the conditions in the wilderness
God promised to meet the needs of the children of Israel.
But first God decided to test them.
And God was very clear and very specific in his instructions
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.
15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded:
‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer[a] for each person you have in your tent.’”
17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.
18 And when they measured it by the omer,
the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.” Exodus 16:13-18
It is not about equal gathering it is about equal sharing.
Some were able to gather far more than others,
but when it was all given and shared everyone had just as much as they needed.
I think there is lesson in that don’t you.
On the day before the Sabbath God said they could gather twice as much and keep it
So that they did not have to work on the Sabbath but could rest and keep it holy.
Some of the Israelites thought they had found a loophole.
Let’s take and store up enough manna in one day so that we don’t have to work the rest of the week.
They thought they had found a loophole.
So, they go out and store up enough manna that they don’t have to go out daily and gather manna for bread.
They can store it up and bring it out when they need it.
But God does not allow this loophole because God wants a daily relationship with us.
“Give us this day our daily bread and lead us not into temptations.”
“Take up they cross daily and follow me.”
Do you know anyone who has tried to store up God
and then bring God out own our terms just when we think we need him?
But the bible says when they got up the next morning
the food that they had gathered the day before was full of maggots.
Except on the Sabbath, the food was wholesome and was without maggots, and without odor or rot.
Our faith grows stronger as we learn to trust the Lord.
We learn to trust God only by obeying God.
The invitation to the Lord’s Table reminds us:
“Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him,
who earnestly repent of their sin,
and seek to live in peace with one another.”
we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive us, we pray.
Free us for joyful obedience,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
All pray in silence.
On this World Communion Sunday,
As we hear the invitation and make our confessions of our own sin, let us not be like the Israelites.
Who instead of seeing deliverance saw only dessert.
Instead of seeing Moses the man of God as a strong and caring leader
Saw Moses as the scapegoat for their own laziness.
It is never too late to change.
It is not how you start out that matters it is how you finish.
Somebody say I am going to start today and make different choices.
How am I going to make my life better?
What can I do about it?
The first thing I am going to do is take communion.
I am going to go to the Lords table.
I am going to repent of my sin.
I am going to seek to live in peace with others.
I am going to love with my whole heart.
I am going to seek to do God’s will
I am going to obey God’s law
I am NOT going to rebel or be a grumbler or complainer
I am NOT going to be just a hearer of the Word but I am going to become a doer of the Word.
What I am going to do is
I am going to love my neighbor
I am going to seek to help the needy
I am going to be joyful
Through Jesus Christ my Lord.
Somebody say Communion matters.