Summary: This sermon addresses how we are united by One and also how we are one for all.
COMMUNION AND ITS COMMITMENT
Text: First Corinthians 10:16-17
"According to medieval legend, before King Arthur sent his knights on errantry to right wrongs and befriend the helpless, he would call them together at his round table, where each knight could see the face of the his king and the faces of his fellows. Shall the followers of the King of Kings do less?" (John Frederick Jansen. Guests Of God. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956, p. 81). This legendary story reminds us of our commitment when we come to the Lord’s Table for Communion.
WE ARE BLOOD RELATIVES
We usually think of blood relatives as those who are born into the same family. There is a saying that "blood is thicker than water" which means that family loyalties are stronger than all others. But, blood is not always thicker than water. There are times when there are members of the same family who are at odds with one another. Think about Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his other brothers, the prodigal son and the elder brother. All of these were brothers---blood relatives. Yet, in all of the stories in the Bible about these brothers, there is a sibling rivalry. In all of these stories there is a hint of a rebel or rebels and also the other or others who conformed. (William B. Ogelsby. Biblical Themes For Pastoral Care. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1980, pp. 114-120). Just as almost all parents want their children to get along with each other, God our heavenly Father wants us to get along with our brothers and sisters.
We are blood relatives because of the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all our sins. Within the Body of Christ we are all brothers and sisters in Christ because of Jesus’ blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. There are sometimes elements of sibling rivalries that exist in the brothers and sisters in Christ. When the rivalry appears to be stronger than bond that we are supposed to have as brothers and sisters, we have a tendency to forget that we are redeemed by Jesus’ blood.
There is the story of a minister who "… responded to an appeal, for blood donations. When he didn’t come home by the time his young son expected him, the boy asked his mother, "Is Dad going around visiting all of the sick people?" His mother replied, "He’s giving blood." "But we know its really grape juice don’t we, Mom?" (Edwin K. Rowell and Bonne L. Steffen. Eds. Humor For Preaching And Teaching. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, p. 41). We sometimes need to remind ourselves that the grape juice that we drink at Holy Communion is symbolic that we are redeemed by Jesus’ blood, because He bought us with a price (First Corinthians 7:23). Jesus who reconciles us to God and to each other has made us blood brothers and sisters because He has rdeemed us all through His blood.
WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST
In the Body of Christ, we are a diverse and a united group of people. We have unity in the Body of Christ in spite of our diversity because in Jesus Christ there is no east or west, no slave or free, no Jew or Greek, because we are all one in the Body of Christ (Galatians 3:28). "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (First Corinthians 12:26-27).
"According to Bill Jauss and Steve Rosenbloom in the Chicago Tribune, on July 19, 1996, Chad Kreuter, a reserve catcher for the Chicago White Sox, severely dislocated and fractured his left shoulder on a play at home. He underwent surgery, and the Sox placed him on the sixty-day disabled list. That’s the kind of thing that makes a backup player feel even less like a part of the team.
But quite the opposite happened. Apparently Chad’s teammates had a strong liking for him; each player put Chad’s number 12 on his ball cap to show support. Chad was a member of the team whether he played or not.
As you can imagine, that meant a lot to Chad. Later in the season when he was able to suit up again, he showed his appreciation by, you guessed it, putting the numbers of each of his teammates on his ball cap.
All devoted to one. One devoted to all. That is what makes a team, and that is what makes the community of Christ". (Craig Brian Larson. Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998, p. 44). This story reflects the way that God wants us to live as members of the Body of Christ.
In the Body of Christ, we are called to do more than just "coexist". When we are truly united in spite of our diversity, then we possess the quality of fellowship that can only authentically be found in the Body of Christ. "It has been said that the real test of our nearness to God is the way that we feel about one another". (Stuart P. Graver. Two Hundred Select Illustrations. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1946, p. 55). Charles Colson writes, "A community is a gathering of people around shared values, a commitment to one another and to common ideals and aspirations that cannot be created by government". (Charles Colson. Kingdoms In Conflict. Grand Rapids: a copublication of William Morrow and Zondervan Publishing House, 1987, p. 227). He also mentions that without the "community that the individual responsibility erodes" (p. 227). In the Body of Christ, we are bound together through Christ who unites us.