Summary: Our first and foremost purpose in gathering together is to meet with Jesus. This is especially true when we come for Communion. (Best preached the week before Communion)

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(Note: prior to preaching, discreetly place an empty chair on the platform, off to one side)

•In the last few weeks, I’ve had several people call me about when we’re having Communion

•It’s customary in the Seventh-day Adventist church to hold Communion on a quarterly basis; and those who have been keeping track know that January is the beginning of the first quarter of 2005, which explains why the question is on the minds of some

•As such, we will be celebrating the Lord’s supper together next week

•So for those of you who have been wondering, now you know

•I must admit, I was a little surprised at being asked by at least four or five different people about when we’re having communion, and it got me to thinking

•You see, even though we only celebrate this special event four times a year, for many of us it has come to be a familiar part of our Christian experience

•The foot washing service, the bread, the grape juice – all of it becomes, for some, a commonplace experience; a matter of habit, and perhaps (dare I say it), even a matter of ritual or tradition

•Every three months, like clockwork, it comes around

•And every three months we pull out the basins and towels, we fill the cups and we bake the bread

•Then we wash each other’s feet, eat the bread, drink the cup, and put it all away again for another three months, when we’ll do it all over again

•Some of us have lived this experience dozens of times over the years

•On the other hand, some of us have never experienced it before

•But whether this is the first, or tenth, or fortieth time we will come to the table, there is something we must always consider

1 Corinthians 11:23-29

•This passage serves as an alarm

•Each time we come together at the Communion table, it warns us that if we eat the bread and drink the grape juice in an unworthy manner, we bring condemnation on ourselves

•We become guilty of the body and blood of Jesus – we crucify Him all over again, and make mockery of His sacrifice

•There is a danger, then, in participating in a Communion service such as we shall have next Sabbath, if we are not found worthy to do so in God’s eyes

•And we’re talking about more than mere spiritual ramifications here

•Notice what Paul says in verse 30 – that the church’s attitude toward communion has not only left many weak and sick, but has actually resulted in some people dying

•Now I don’t know about you, but I would be thinking twice about taking Communion if I thought I might wind up dead because of it

•This is actually why I’ve tried to make a point over time of preaching the Communion sermon the week before Communion, instead of the week of Communion

•There needs to be some preparation before we approach the Lord’s Table

•Communion is so important that we need to take the time and ask the question, “Why would I be unworthy?”, as well as the question, “How can I be worthy?”

•Before we come to the Lord’s Supper, Scripture tells us that there must be an examination of our lives, of our thoughts, of our motives, of our attitudes

•And the same Scriptures tell us specifically what we should be looking for

•Look with me again at verse 29

•Condemnation comes, we are told, if we eat and drink unworthily

•And unworthiness comes, we are told, because when we eat and drink, we fail to discern the Lord’s body

•Now, what you’ve got to realise is that the Word of God is talking about more than just understanding the symbolism in the bread and cup, here

•You’ll notice in verse 23 that Paul says that he’s explained the imagery behind the bread and the grape juice before

•It’s obvious he’s not talking about failing to decipher the meaning of Communion

•It has to do with something else – stay with me for a moment and we’ll figure it out

•Look with me once more at the very end of verse 29

•What does Paul say we fail to discern? The Lord’s body

•Now why is only the body mentioned here? Why not the blood?

•Up to now in this passage, every time the body of Christ is mentioned, so is His blood

•Yet here, it is very clear that condemnation comes only from not discerning the body

•Could it be that Paul is talking about more than the body of Christ as represented by the bread?

•Keep that in mind, now, and turn over with me one chapter, to 1 Corinthians 12, and look at verse 27

•What is the body of Christ? We are, all of us together; for you see the “you” being spoken of here is in the plural in Greek

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