Summary: World Communion Sunday sermon
Smell the Grace
Special occasions are often connected with food—Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. I remember often those days whenever we have a special occasion at our house. No matter where I’m at in the house I can smell the turkey or ham baking, and the corn pudding, and the pumpkin pie. And like Pavlov’s dog, it just sets the juices flowing, our stomachs growling and we can’t wait for dinner to be served.
I hope when you walked through the door this morning your olfactory senses were overwhelmed with the smell of the bread baking. And I hope that it set your juices flowing as you thought ahead of the meal in which we will be partaking of here in a short time.
Whenever there’s a special meal, we can’t wait to hear: “It’s time to eat! Come to the table.” This morning, Jesus has set the table and is inviting us, “Come to My Table.” But we must prepare ourselves before we “come to the table”…
We read in Psalm 26 that David asks for vindication for he has “led a blameless life” and has “trusted in the Lord without wavering”. Now we know that David is not sinless. We know from elsewhere in the Bible, including several other Psalms, that David couldn’t and didn’t make that claim. I think that all he is saying there is that he has genuinely sought to serve God.
David goes on to say in verse 6, “I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O Lord.”
Before we sit down to a meal, we need clean hands. You don’t work in the garden or change the oil in the car and then come inside, sit down, and eat dinner. You wash up first. This is why the Bible tells us to examine ourselves before we eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
We, as Presbyterians, believe that to participate in communion we must be baptized. We believe that communion is not a right, but a privilege. And in preparing to receive Christ in this Sacrament, the believer is to confess sin and brokenness, to seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and to trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal. (BOO, W.2.4011a)
When you were a kid, did anyone ever have to go to bed without supper because you did something bad? When we come to Jesus seeking forgiveness, we find restoration, and an invitation to His table. Some people figure they’re too unworthy to participate, and they pass the bread and cup without partaking. None of us are worthy, but if we’ve trusted Christ, we are eligible. He invites and authorizes us to come to the table. And we need to be reminded of that.
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper once a month. Some celebrate it once a quarter. Some celebrate it every time they gather for worship, maybe 3-4 times a week. Today is World Communion Sunday. Maybe the only time all year that we, as Christians, gather to celebrate and remember what Jesus did for all of us on the same Sunday.
This is a special Sunday. Those who receive the bread and cup every week, and maybe even those of us who receive it just once a month may begin to take it for granted. Maybe we don’t really think about the implications of this act or the impact it has on our lives. So before we enter into communion with God and one another, let’s take a closer look at “The Lord’s Supper”.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the conversation that preceded the first Lord’s Supper. While reclining around the Passover table, Jesus said, "One of you will betray me." One by one, the disciples questioned the Lord, "Surely not I, Lord?" When it came Judas’ turn to ask, he said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" Did you notice the subtle change in the question? The other disciples referred to Jesus as Lord, while Judas referred to Him as Rabbi. A disciple is less likely to betray his Lord than his teacher. Jesus is much more than a good teacher-He is Lord!
And, as Lord, Jesus is the only one worthy to say and do what comes next. Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and said this is my body. He likened his body to bread. I don’t know about you but I can just picture the disciples faces. The same puzzled look that they had at other things Jesus has told them.
Jesus is offering them the bread of heaven, but in their minds they picture bread as something baked fresh every day, something that would satisfy their hunger for a short time. How could this bread be His body?
We could ask the same question. How can this loaf of bread that you smelled baking as you entered this morning, this bread made from ordinary ingredients purchased at a store, this everyday commodity, be his body?