Summary: How can communion help us to enter in to receiving God’s grace in our individual lives?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
World Communion Sunday
October 3, 2004
“A Means of Grace”
INTRODUCTION: Today is World Communion Sunday where people of diverse backgrounds can come together in unity to participate in a service that Jesus instituted. Sometimes this means of grace is referred to as the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, or Communion. Some churches call it an ordinance while others use the term sacrament. United Methodists use the term sacrament for both communion and baptism.
Today I would like to refer to communion as a means of God’s grace to us, and today’s scripture tells us that we have access to this grace by faith.
1. What is God’s Grace?: Sometimes we hear people say, “there but for the grace of God go I” when referring to some unfortunate situation that a person has fallen into.
Another reference to grace is the old song,
“Grace grace, God’s grace
grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin.”
God’s GRACE exceeds our sin and our guilt.
This song was written almost 100 years ago, and I am wondering if the term “grace of God” has the same meaning for us today as it did for these people? Too often I don’t think so because we don’t sense our need as much. We think we are self sufficient and don’t need God’s forgiveness. Sometimes we put God’s call to us on hold for years. We have a variety of reasons. Too busy, not interested, will get around to it someday...maybe...
STORY: A company in Chicago is said to be the nation’s largest printer of magazines. They have a machine that sends out notices to people whose subscriptions have expired. One day a tiny spring in the machine broke and a rancher in Powder Bluff, Colorado, received 9734 notices that his subscription to National Geographic had expried. He rode the ten miles to the post office, sent his money and wrote, “Send me the magazine; I GIVE UP!!!”
That’s how God brings many people to salvation. He hits them with the message so many times that they finally give up. That’s an example of God’s grace.
The easiest definition to remember is that “grace is God’s unmerited favor toward us.” This is exemplified when Jesus came to earth and died for our sins. Verse 8 says that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It can be said that “Grace is God’s voluntary and loving favor given to those He saves. We can’t earn salvation, nor do we deserve it--without God’s grace--his unmerited favor--no person can be saved.”
Paul wrote, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is not as a result of works that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8).
The grace of God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. That’s why it is so important to us. God accepts me when I am not acceptable. That is the gift of grace.
Ephesians 1:6 says, “to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherin he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
2. What is Our Port of Entry into God’s Grace?: Many times even when we recognize our need for God and His grace in our lives, we don’t know how to enter. We don’t know how to get there from here.
STORY: A family left on vacation and headed for Disneyland. Three days later they returned home. Their curious neighbors immediately questioned them. “We thought you went to Disneyland. Why are you home so soon?”
The weary travelers sadly reported, “As we approached Disneyland, we saw a sign that said, “Disneyland Left.” We were not sure where it had gone, but figured it was time to come home.”
How do we get where we want to be spiritually? What is our “port of entry” in response to God? Clearly scripture says in todays verses that we have “access by faith.” Any time we approach God, we come by faith--scripture says that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). We approach God through our prayers of faith, through our praise and thanksgiving, and through other rituals of the church--through baptism and through communion. As we participate in faith we open ourselves to receive His grace or His unmerited favor to us. It is true that we could just go through the routines of doing things out of habit, however, if we do them in faith believing that God meets us at our point of need, I believe we will please Him.
The Message Bible says, “we throw open the doors to God and disover that He has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand out in the wide open spaces of God’s GRACE and glory standing tall and shouting our praise.” (Message Bible).