People sometimes tell me after officiating a wedding ceremony, "That was a very nice ceremony." Ceremonies (a formal act or set of acts performed as prescribed by ritual or custom) such as weddings are meant to be nice, but they are not intended to be an end in themselves. You and I know, and hopefully the bride and groom, that once the ceremony is over, life begins as a married couple. The ceremony has an intended purpose that lies beyond itself. In other words there is life beyond the ceremony.
Last Sunday we participated in a ceremony that articulated and culminated the vision God has given us to reach people of Ormond Beach for Jesus Christ. This morning we have come to observe the Lord's Supper. It too can be a nice ceremony. But like the wedding and Vision Sunday these ceremonies are not intended to be an end in themselves. They too speak of life beyond the ceremony.
It would do little good, though some, for a married couple to watch the video of their wedding ceremony if they never grasped the emphasis that they are to have a life together as husband and wife after the ceremony. Similarly, it does us no good to read a resolution thinking that the only thing gained is land.
Jesus is not as concerned with the bit of cracker and juice we will consume this morning, as He is about you and I consuming the greater emphasis of the life He imparts to us. As the wedding video should remind the couple of their life together, so this meal is to remind us of our life together with Christ.
John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
In this text, the words, "flesh and blood", is not speaking so much of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper but more of the life He imparts. And that is what this meal is to remind us of ... the Life beyond the ceremony that comes through Christ's death, and resurrection.
Renewed in the Life of Christ 6:51-52
John 6:51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"
I remember a lady asking me in a very concerned voice after observing the Lord's Supper ... "Doesn't it say in the Bible somewhere that a cloth is to be used to cover the Lord Supper dishes?" Have we made this sacrament an end in itself by worrying ourselves more about the elements than the life that is beyond the ceremony? Have we made the activity that we do in church and end in itself? We do not go to church so that we may say we have been to church. We go to church to be empowered by the community and then to go out into the community to reach people for Jesus Christ. If we do not understand the life of Christ imparts to us by the power of the Spirit, we will never understand this concept of renewal.
Renewal speaks of something being restored, regained, reaffirmed or revived in our lives. Today we need to be renewed by the life Christ imparts.
1a. Where Eternal Life Comes From ... Jesus Christ
1b. When Eternal Life is Imparted ... Eats of this Bread (believes)
1c. What Eternal Life Accomplishes ... Live Forever with Christ
Well, how are we renewed? Two ways: 1.) Through the life we receive from the community. 2.) Through the individual spiritual maturation process we implement. I have never worked at a church that provided more opportunities to receive life than this one. Those activities posted on the wall are those activates that allow the Spirit of God to grow us wide in the impact we have with people; and wide in the potential to reach others with saving love of Jesus.