Summary: A complete Lord’s Supper service, including music.
Note: The pastors presented the message as a team.
[Psalm 23 countdown video]
This morning’s worship service is going to be a bit different than what most of us are used to. Although we normally begin our time with singing to help us focus our attention on God and prepare our hearts to hear His Word, we’re going to begin with a couple of Scripture passages that will set the stage for our observance of the Lord’s Supper during the last part of our worship service.
So we’re going to dismiss our children to Children’s Church right now and we’ll have them come back and join us later as we sing and take the elements.
In the book of Revelation, toward the end of the letter to the church at Laodicea, Jesus spoke these familiar words:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
Revelation 3:20 (NIV)
Christians have often used these words in sharing their faith with others as an invitation to commit their lives to Jesus and place their trust in Him. And while it is certainly a very good thing to share the gospel and invite people to enter into a relationship with Jesus, we need to consider the context in which these words were spoken by Jesus. These words are not spoken to unbelievers, but to those who were already followers of Jesus there in the church in Laodicea. They are not an invitation to make a commitment to follow Jesus, but rather an invitation for those believers to enter into intimate worship with Him.
Jesus offers us that same invitation this morning. He wants us to enter into an intimate worship experience with Him, one that is centered around the table where we will together share a symbolic meal that reminds us of our past, present and future life in Jesus. And just as we would do if we desired to engage in an enjoyable meal with our family or friends, we want to make sure that this worship experience allows for a leisurely pace where we have adequate time to prepare our hearts, develop our appetite, and linger at the table together.
In order to help us do that, Dana and I are going to focus on a passage that we don’t commonly use as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, but one that clearly makes reference to that observance and how we are to prepare to partake of the elements together this morning.
Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
1 Corinthians 10:14-21 (NIV)
Although there is much that we can learn from this passage, this morning we’re going to focus on only four principles that we find that relate to our observance of the Lord’s Supper this morning:
Let’s begin with the idea of separation.
Paul begins this passage by commanding followers of Jesus to flee from idolatry. And then he concludes the passage with a similar warning, when he makes it clear that it is not possible to take part in the Lord’s table if we still have a part in the table of demons. The message here is quite clear and it is a message that is confirmed consistently throughout the Scriptures. Those who are followers of Jesus must be separated from the attitudes, priorities and activities of the world.
That obviously does not mean that we are physically to remove ourselves from the world that we live in or that we are not to have contact with the people of this world. But it does mean that our attitudes, priorities and actions are to be different and separated from those that are apparent in the lives of unbelievers.
That is certainly one reason that the Bible makes it clear that only those who have separated themselves from the world by committing their lives to Jesus and who make an effort to follow Him daily are to participate in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. So if you have made that decision, whether you are a church member here or not, we invite you to participate in taking the bread and the cup a little later this morning. However, if you have not made the decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, we ask for your own sake that you not take those elements. We encourage you to think about what the bread and cup represent and to ponder how God might be calling you to enter into a personal relationship with Him, so you are certainly welcome to participate in the rest of the service with the exception of actually taking the elements.