Summary: A sermon examining why we observe communion at Central Christian Church.
A church had an unusual ritual every Sunday morning. Before the church sang the Doxology, they would stand up, everyone turned to the right facing a blank white wall, and they sang. Every Sunday without fail they did this. A newcomer to the church was confused by this and asked, “Why do you do this?”
No one knew. The only answer they could come up with was, “We’ve always done it this way.” But that answer did not satisfy the newcomer. Other people were asked the same question. Finally an elderly man who had gone to church longer than anyone else remembered the reason.
It seems that at one time they didn’t have hymnals and the words to this song were painted on the large white wall. Everyone stood, turned to the right facing the wall and sang. Over the years the words faded and the wall was repainted numerous times yet no one remembered the significance for standing and turning toward the wall.
Many times we end up doing things for the wrong reasons because no one ever stopped to ask why. We develop habits and traditions sometimes based on nothing more than false information.
Each Sunday here at Central Christian Church we have a time of communion where we partake of emblems that remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. In fact, some of you who have been attending Central for years may be a little uncomfortable right now because we aren’t doing things the way we have always done them today. Since I am preaching on the topic of communion, we are having the sermon first.
As I thought about our church and the possibility of new friends worshipping with us after Easter, I thought it would be good to explain why we take communion every week here at Central.
Acts 20:7 says, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” Early historians document that the early church observed communion every week. The smaller groups possibly took communion every day, but the church as a whole took communion every a Lord’s Day. Following that precedent, we also provide communion every week. We simply want to practice what we see the church in the 1st Century practicing.
One of the complaints I hear about taking weekly communion is that it becomes too common. If you take communion every week it isn’t as special. With that in mind, I want us to look at why we take communion.
First of all, we take communion because…
JESUS STARTED IT
I don’t mean for that to sound like a little kid saying “he started it!” But the origins of communion come from Jesus. In fact, communion is also called “The Lord’s Supper” because of the fact that Jesus started it.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:23 - 25, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
God, Who created us, knows that we do not have the greatest memories. Throughout the entire Bible we see that God was always setting up memorials for His people. Whenever a significant event would happen, the patriarchs would build an altar. When the people of Israel crossed the Jordan River they set 12 stones by the river bank to serve as a memorial to that event. Whenever their children walked by and saw the stones the parents could tell them about God’s miraculous entrance for them into the Promise Land.
A significant memorial for the Israelites was Passover. Passover was a meal celebrated to remember their escape from Egypt. During the meal they would eat bitter herbs to remind them of their years in slavery. They would also eat sweet honey to remind them of how good the Lord is. It was during this celebration that Jesus met with His disciples and started the Lord’s Supper.
Every family would set an additional place setting for the Messiah. This was a reminder that they were looking for the One coming from God. It is from this place that scholars believe Jesus took the bread and the cup. Strong significance.
The primary purpose of communion is…
A SYMBOLIC REMINDER OF CHRIST’S DEATH
Two times in 1 Corinthians 11 Jesus said to do this, “In remembrance of Me.”
We have all been frustrated or embarrassed at times by forgetting something. It is embarrassing when someone knows you by name but you can’t remember his or her name. We need reminders.
But it is probably a good thing that we don’t remember everything in vivid detail.