Summary: The cornerstone of Christian worship is The Lord's Supper. But sometimes this foundational part of church is buried by other stuff. What could bury Communion and how can we avoid that danger?
On Sunday July 4th, 1848 a cornerstone was laid for the Washington Monument. It was made of pure white marble weighing 24,500 pounds and had been dragged through the streets of Washington from the railroad station to the site. It was a dramatic event - attended by a crowd of about 20,000 people. The President (James K. Polk) led the parade to the site and his carriage was followed by members of his Cabinet, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, military units, and patriotic organizations. There was 2 hour speech given by the Speaker of the House, after which items were placed in the time capsule that was imbedded in the cornerstone. Among the items inside that time capsule were: copies of the Declaration of Independence, copies the Constitution, a portrait of George Washington, various US coins that were used at the time,an American flag, newspapers from 14 states, and a copy of the constitution of the first organized temperance society in America. (http://npshistory.com/publications/wamo/history/chap2.htm)
According to “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” somehow, somewhere along the process of building the monument,the cornerstone disappeared and hasn’t been seen since. (Ripley's Believe It Or Not-Great and Strange Works of Man). Speculation is that it was covered up (buried) during the construction of the monument.
APPLY: Now, you’d think that, with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the laying down of this stone that this would have been a highly valuable and historic part of the monument. It was meant to be a stone that they would remember forever… AND YET THEY LOST IT!
In Acts 2:42 we read: (the first Christians) “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread (the Lord’s Supper) and the prayers.”
This is how the early Christians worshipped. Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, prayers… and COMMUNION. THEY DEVOTED themselves to these things.
Jesus established His Supper (the Lord’s Supper) on the night he was betrayed. He gathered His disciples in an upper room where they ate the Passover. Now, the Passover was one of the MAJOR feast days of the Jewish people, and God had built into that MEAL large amounts of Messianic imagery. So, toward the end of the meal we’re told that “Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28
This meal (which became the foundation of the Lord’s Supper) was important enough to Jesus that it was the last thing He did with His disciples before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. You might say, Jesus intended this meal to be the Cornerstone of the church.
Acts 2 tells us it was so important that the early Christians DEVOTED themselves to this activity. And Acts 20 explains that it was the main reason the church gathered “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” Acts 20:7
Communion, if you will, was the CORNERSTONE of the church. And yet, just like the cornerstone of the Washington Monument, there’s always been the risk that … it might get lost, because folks tend to bury it under other stuff.
For example, a lot of churches and Christians bury Communion with ritual. They just “go through the motions” and believe they’ve done a good thing.
ILLUS: A read the true story about a couple of High School students that volunteered to take communion out to the shut-ins one Sunday. They stopped at the Nursing Home and visited the room of one of the members. But the member was kind of “out of it” on his bed and they didn’t feel right waking him up. So the two boys looked at each other, then at the communion box they’d brought. Then they said a prayer, took a wafer and placed it between the man’s lips and he ate it! Then they took the cup of juice and put that to the man’s lips… and he drank it! And then they quietly left the room. That man in the Nursing Home had no idea that they were there… and he had no idea he’d taken communion. But those two High Schoolers were satisfied because they’d done everything right.
Now there are churches and Christians who are like that. They go through the motions. They say all the right words in the right way, at the right time… they just put the wafer in their mouths and the cup to their lips… and they’re satisfied because they’ve done everything right.
Be careful about that. Because going through the motions can kill what Communion is all about.