Summary: This week's sermon in our "What We Believe" series is about the sacrament of communion and what it means to partake .
What We Believe
“Communion: A Time To Remember”
A little girl asked her mother, “Mommy, why do you cut the ends off meat before you cook it?”
The girl’s mother said it added flavor by allowing the meat to better absorb the spices, but also told her to ask her grandmother since she always did it that way.
So the little girl found her grandmother and asked, “Grandma, why do you and Mommy cut the ends of the meat off before you cook it?”
Her grandmother said, “I think it allows the meat to stay tender because it soaks up the juices better, but why don’t you ask your Nana? After all, I learned from her, and she always did it that way.”
Getting a little frustrated the little girl climbed in her great-grandma’s lap and asked, “Nana, why do you cut the ends off the meat before you cook it?”
Nana answered, “I had to; my cooking pot wasn’t big enough.”
We do a lot of things in life, and seldom stop to ask why. We develop habits and traditions, and if we’re not careful, we can forget why we do certain things. The danger of familiar traditions is they will become routine and lose their intended power.
It is for this reason that I would like to take this time in our “What We Believe” series to talk about Communion, or what is also called “The Lord’s Supper.”
But to do so I’d like to tell you a story about a statue of a lamb that stands in the courtyard of a little church in Germany.
A group of men were working on the church’s roof when one of them tripped and fell to the ground. The other men quickly climbed down the ladder thinking that their colleague was either severely injured or dead.
When they reached him he was shaken but uninjured. You see, there was a lamb grazing next to the church when he fell, and instead of hitting the ground, he fell on the lamb. Unfortunately for the lamb it was crushed and died.
Grateful for the lamb’s intervention, the man had a statue of a lamb erected in the very place where he fell. The plague underneath reads, “Memorial to the Crushed Lamb.”
In essence, this is what the Lord’s Supper, or Communion is all about. It’s about Jesus, the Lamb of God, and to remember how He was crushed for our sins so that we can live for eternity.
“Do this in remembrance of Me.” These words of Jesus are well known to most everyone. They are often quoted at each communion service and have been put into many communion songs.
What I find amazing, however, is that given enough time, religion can actually squeeze or strangle the life out of the reality. Throughout the centuries, religion has taken the wonderful grace that God has extended and boxed it up into meaningless and powerless rituals.
This is something the church has done to what Jesus asked for us to remember.
However, before we look at Jesus’ words, a little story may bring to light what I’m trying to say.
After a family moved to a new town they began attending a new church. Their four year old loved the singing and especially the communion service.
One day while at the baby-sitters she was eating her favorite lunch of burritos and apple juice. The baby-sitter overheard the little girl doing communion with her lunch. She seemed to have memorized the words pretty well except when it came to the cup.
The baby sitter heard the little girl say, “And Jesus took the cup and he blessed it and he gave God thanks for it and he said, “Fill it up with Folgers and wake ‘em up.”
She may not have known just how apropos this is, or how prophetic.
Now let’s look at the words of Jesus. After He took the bread he broke it and said,
“‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25 NKJV)
There is something about Jesus’s body and blood that He wants us to remember. But what is it exactly? There are two possibilities. We can remember the process of His dying, or we can remember the purpose of His death.
Many preach and teach about the process of how Jesus died, especially around Easter. And I’m not saying this isn’t important, because Jesus knew the pain and agony that awaited Him at the cross. And when I say agony that’s exactly what I mean. This is where we get our English word, “excruciating.” “Excruciating,” means “out of the cross.” It is the unbelievable pain experienced when someone is executed upon a cross. It is the most painful form of execution ever devised by man.