Sermons

Summary: Through the signs and symbols of Holy Communion we can use our five senses to gain a deeper understanding of God’s love for us through Jesus Christ.

SAINT AUGUSTINE GAVE PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST PROFOUND, YET BASIC DEFINITIONS OF THE SACRAMENTS. HE SAID A SACRAMENT IS SIMPLY A VISIBLE SIGN OF SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL THAT IS TAKING PLACE IN AN INVISIBLE WAY.

SACRAMENTS ARE ACTIONS THROUGH WHICH THE POWER OF GOD IS OFFERED TO US. IT IS GOD’S WAY OF SHOWING US THAT HE NOT ONLY BECAME HUMAN IN JESUS CHRIST, BUT CONTINUES TO MEET US ON HUMAN TERMS THROUGH THE WORDS AND ACTIONS OF THE SACRAMENT.

GOD HAS GIVEN US THE SACRAMENTS OF HOLY COMMUNION AND BAPTISM AS A CONTINUAL MEANS OF EXPRESSING HIS LOVE FOR US. BECAUSE OUR FAITH CAN BE WEAK AT TIMES WE NEED VISIBLE SIGNS OF GOD’S LOVE.

THIS IS WHY I BELIEVE THAT GOD APPROACHES US ON OUR OWN TERMS IN THE SACRAMENTS. THROUGH THE SACRAMENTS GOD REACHES OUT TO US AND MAKES HIS LOVE EVIDENT IN OUR HEARTS AND EXPERIENCED IN OUR LIVES.

THIS IS WHY THE WHOLE POINT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO SHOW US GOD’S LOVE AND GRACE. BY SHOWING US HIS LOVE AND GRACE WE CAN STRENGTHEN AND CONFIRM OUR FAITH IN GOD.

GOD LOVES US SO MUCH THAT HE CHOOSES TO SHOW HIS LOVE FOR US IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE! NOT ONLY DOES HE GIVE US SIGNS, BUT HE ALSO SHOWS HIS LOVE FOR US THROUGH SYMBOLS.

IN HOLY COMMUNION THE BREAD IS A VISIBLE SYMBOL TO REMIND US THAT THE LORD SUFFERED AND DIED UPON THE CROSS FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US. AS EACH OF US EAT THE BREAD, WE CAN REMEMBER THE LOVE AND GRACE OF GOD GIVEN TO US.

THE GRAPE JUICE IS TO NOT ONLY SYMBOLIZE THE BLOOD OF CHRIST SHED FOR US, BUT TO SYMBOLIZE THAT SAME DRINK IN WHICH JESUS SAID IN MATTHEW 26:29, “I WILL NOT DRINK OF THIS FRUIT OF THE VINE FROM NOW ON UNTIL THAT DAY WHEN I DRINK IT ANEW WITH YOU IN MY FATHER’S KINGDOM.” OUR HOPE IS ESTABLISHED IN THE “NEW COVENANT” OF HIS BLOOD.

THE SACRAMENT OF THIS NEW COVENANT WE CALL "HOLY COMMUNION" OFFERS THE PEOPLE OF GOD THE OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND BY SAYING "YES, I WANT TO BE A PART OF YOUR COVENANT!"

THEN THERE ARE THE ACTUAL SYMBOLS THAT THESE SIGNS REPRESENT FOR US. BOTH WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE GOD’S LOVE VISIBLE FOR US.

SYMBOLS ARE OBJECTS OR PATTERNS THAT ARE USED TO REPRESENT AN INVISIBLE METAPHYSICAL REALITY. THIS IS WHY AUGUSTINE REFERRED TO THE SACRAMENTS AS "VISIBLE WORDS."

IN THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION, WHEN JESUS TOOK A PIECE OF BREAD AND A CUP AND SAID "THIS IS MY BODY…THIS IS MY BLOOD," HE WAS CREATING A SYMBOL.

NOW, BECAUSE OF THIS SYMBOL WE CAN IDENTIFY MORE CLOSELY WITH WHAT THE BREAD AND THE GRAPE JUICE REPRESENT WHEN WE EAT AND DRINK AT THE ALTAR.

THE AMAZING THING THAT I FIND ABOUT THE SYMBOLISM IN THE SACRAMENTS ARE THE "WORDS" SPOKEN BY THE SYMBOLS THEMSELVES. THESE WORDS ARE SO SPECIAL THAT THEY CAN SPEAK TO ALL OF OUR SENSES.

SACRAMENTS ARE SYMBOLIC WORDS, BUT THEY ARE NOT MERELY SPOKEN WORDS TO BE HEARD. THEY CAN BE WORDS THAT ARE SEEN AS WE APPROACH THE COMMUNION TABLE AND LOOK WITH OUR EYES AT WHAT IS ON THE TABLE.

WHEN WE SEE THE PIECES OF TORN BREAD AND THE DEEP RED COLOR OF THE JUICE IN THE CUP IT IS AS IF THEY SAY TO US VISUALLY, "HERE IS THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST GIVEN JUST FOR YOU."

THE SYMBOLIC WORDS CAN ALSO BE TASTED AS WE RECALL THE WORDS OF THE PSALMIST IN PSALM 34:8, THAT WE ARE TO "TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD."

WE USE THE SENSE OF TOUCH AS WE COME FORTH AND TOUCH THE COARSE TEXTURE OF THE BREAD AND PICK UP THE CUP IN OUR HANDS.AS WE DO THIS WE RECOUNT THE WORDS OF THE RISEN SAVIOR TO THOMAS IN JOHN 20:27, "PUT YOUR FINGER HERE AND SEE MY HANDS. PUT YOUR HAND INTO THE WOUND IN MY SIDE. DON’T BE FAITHLESS ANY LONGER. BELIEVE!"

THE SYMBOLIC WORDS CAN EVEN BE SMELLED. THE SENSE OF SMELL IS HEIGHTENED AT THE VERY DISTINCT FRAGRANCE OF GRAPE JUICE AND THE AROMA OF THE BREAD.

WITH THE SENSE OF SMELL BROUGHT TO LIFE, THE THOUGHTS OF "FRESH" AND "NEW" COME TO MIND. IN REMEMBRANCE COMES THE RECOLLECTION OF CHRIST’S PROMISE IN 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17, "WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT THOSE WHO BECOME CHRISTIANS BECOME NEW PERSONS. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME ANYMORE, FOR THE OLD LIFE IS GONE. A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!"

THEN, LAST BUT NOT LEAST, IS OUR SENSE OF HEARING. THE SYMBOLIC WORDS CAN BE "HEARD" AS THE GRAPE JUICE IS POURED INTO THE CUP WE CAN ALMOST "HEAR" THE SOUND OF JESUS’ BLOOD POURING OUT OF HIM AS HE WAS WHIPPED, BEATEN AND NAILED UPON THE CROSS OF CALVARY.

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