Sermon delivered September 30, 2000 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

God's Great Memorial

Just about a block from my house there's a cemetery. Isn't that wonderful? I walked through the cemetery and it's pretty well from the Civil War (1865) and before. A few are after that. It's an old cemetery. Old faded tombstones that you can hardly read. That big arch in St. Louis. Isn't that wonderful. Stainless steel, over 700 foot tall, just like the monuments in that cemetery. They are very similar because they're both monuments. They are monuments to different things. We as human beings like to build monuments. Either we build the monuments to great people, like a library or building or a statue. Or we build monuments to great events. We are monument builders like the Indians were mound builders.

God does about the same. He builds monuments. One monument that we talked about last week was the Sabbath. And that's very important. But there is another event that is far more important than the Sabbath. That's our salvation. When Jesus Christ came, He lived the perfect life, He died on the old rugged cross, and He was resurrected to live again. That's the greatest event in History.

There are several monuments commemorating that event. One is the Sabbath as you might have suspected. The Sabbath does indeed commemorate what Jesus did on that weekend, because He spent more time resting on the Sabbath than He did with anything else on that weekend.

Also, Baptism is a symbol of the events of that weekend, because it is a symbol of the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And there's another symbol of Jesus' death. It's the Lord's supper that we're going to celebrate here today. All of these recall the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Come over to 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In 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." So, Jesus established a memorial, the communion service, that we might not forget His great sacrifice in dying to save us. Isn't it interesting that Jesus wanted to be remembered. Jesus wants you to remember Him.

Some may have wondered why we have a crown hanging one the pulpit. Well, that's to remember what happened this weekend. So many years ago, almost two thousand years ago, Jesus died on the ole rugged cross. And we want to remember that. We don't want to forget that.

Come over here to Luke 22 in your bible. Luke 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." Did you notice that the word "gave" or "given" is used three times in this verse? He GAVE thanks. He broke it and He GAVE it to them. How much do we have to pay for it? Nothing. It is a gift. The Lord's Supper commemorates the gift of Jesus' eternal life for you. Now, that pretty important. This is a GIFT. "This is My body GIVEN for you." They didn't take it away from Him. Jesus didn't die because He was a prisoner. They didn't force Him to die. He gave His life for you and for me.

You know, I like to remember good things. Good memories are some of life's most precious things. Many of you have camcorders. You like to record history. At graduations, Kodak gets rich because we want to preserve memories. We san pictures with our digital cameras. We take them home and put them on our computers. We are people who like memories. We save our emails. How many emails do you have saved? Thousands, or do you delete them every day? We save ours. Why do we save those things? Do we ever go back and read them? Sometimes, I guess, we should. We save old letters. We write out our family history. My family history now has two hundred five pages: the history of Don Gettys. Why did I do that? I don't know. I wanted to be remembered by somebody, I guess. Jesus wants to be remembered. Isn't that unique? No, it's not. But should we remember Jesus? Oh, yes we should. The Communion service is a rite with which we commemorate Jesus death.

In our house we have something you probably don't have in your house. We have a junk drawer. You don't have one in your home. We probably have several if the truth were known. I was rummaging through the junk drawer the other day and I found some old match books of places where my wife and I have gone out to eat and we took a match book and threw it in the drawer. Why did I do that? To remember that occasion, I guess. And there are all kinds of doodads and trinkets in there. Old keys from yesteryear, of old cars we used to drive, and old houses up in Michigan we used to live in. Why do we keep that stuff? Do we need it? Are we going to use it some day? No. Why don't we throw it out? Well, I'll tell you why we don't throw it out. Because when we handle that junk, each time that it comes into our hand it reminds of something that happened to us. Something important that happened in our life. Those things represent portions of our lives, significant portions.

In there is my uncle Earl's dog tag from World War II. Do I need that dog tag? No! In fact, he's dead and gone now. And yet, there it is.

And a lead ball I saw my grandfather pour to fit in his home-made muzzle-loader rifle. Why do I keep that lead ball? I don't know. There's all kinds of stuff in there. Junk to anybody else, I suppose. When we die, our kids will say, "We've got to get rid of all this. Why in the world did Mom and Dad keep all this junk." To us it's not junk. To me those things are a sacrament because when I have each one I can visualize the event that took place, and that reminds me of that event.

This service today, when you hold that little wafer, that bread in your hand, you may visualized Jesus' death on the cross. When you hold that little glass in your hand you should visualize Jesus' blood which flowed for you. Jesus knew we would need help remembering because time erases memories. Jesus instituted this service. Did anybody have this service before Jesus had it? Not in the same way. I don't remember any. This is a unique invention that Jesus has the patent on. This service He made for us to jog our minds to renew our memories so that we would not forget Him. That's why we have this service today.

So this is the bread we eat today. And so this is the cup. Junk to some, but a priceless treasure to the true Christian. Jesus knew that we need help in remembering. How easily the human mind forgets. It is like the mind is a slate and time a sponge which wipes it clean. Jesus is saying this: "In the rush of years and schedules, you will tend to forget my great sacrifice for you. So enter into the stillness of my house and eat at my table, where you will remember me."

Let's turn to 1 Corinthians 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. You are proclaiming His death. You are advertising His death. You are commemorating His death. You are remembering His death. That's exactly what this means. This service advertises Jesus and His great sacrifice. On a quarterly basis we do this. Four times a year in our church we are zeroing in on Jesus' death, which provided our justification.

Therefore, the Lord's Supper is greater than the monuments in that cemetery that I go to occasionally. It's greater than the Arch in St. Louis, greater than the Washington Monument, and more prominent than the Eiffel Tower. Why? Because the event it observes is the greatest happening in the world.

I remember in an academy year, we went from Indiana Academy on a visit to Washington D.C. and I saw that huge monument, the Washington Monument. They said, "Would you like to ride the elevator or the steps?" Well, naturally I chose the steps. My friend, David Clore, and I ran all the way to the top of the Washington Monument, and almost died as we got to the top. I think if I did that again I'd die about a third of the way up.

But the greatest monument is not the Egyptian pyramids, it's the Communion Service because of the event this commemorates. The greatest happening in the world is when Jesus gave His life that you might live.

I hope that this service will jog your memory of that event. Here we are asking you to remember something that you never even saw. It's hard enough to remember something you experienced and now here come something along that Jesus asks you to remember His death. You can only remember what you read about it. But you can remember that, can't you.

Is the Lord's Supper a treasured sacrament to you or is like the stuff in your junk drawer? Junk to some, treasure to others. How you view this significant service, in all likelihood, reflects your standing with eternity. Let us enter into this service with warm memories toward Jesus Christ our Savior.

It's time for us to separate into the Ordinance of Humility that we have in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Some of you may not be Seventh-day Adventists, if not, you are certainly welcome to partake with us. The ordinance of foot washing is commanded in the Bible in John 13. And so we're going to divide into groups, but before we do that we will have prayer and then we will divide into groups: The women will go to the fireside room, the men can go to the room next to the fireside room or down the hall to the first door on the left. The couples may go upstairs to the Junior room, or you may go down the hall to the first door on the right. If you decide not to participate, you may just remain in the pew where you are. We will be re-assembling here in a few moments.

Let us pray: "Dear Father, as we go into this service of a miniature baptism of foot-washing, I pray that You would wash away the sins and corruptions of our lives. Re-instill in our hearts a sense of true values in Jesus Christ. I pray this in Jesus' sweet name, Amen."

Let us separate at this time.

(We go our chosen ways to the rooms where we find pans of water and towels already provided for. This is a serious time for us because we know that this part of the service has to do with equalities and making all things right between us. We don't want to leave this room with and grudges, prejudices, or wrongs between any of us. Like at Pentecost, we want to be pure in heart, ad so we wash each other's feet, equals. When we have finished, we each offer prayers together, and then we return to the sanctuary. where the service continues.)

Head Elder speaks: "We have been washed clean. We come before the Lord to celebrate His goodness, to focus on the precious gift of God to each one of us. I'll be reading from the New International Version. In I Corinthians 11, Paul, writing to the churches, know that the church is struggling with some serious problems of division and heart ache. He know that if they can get their focus not on each other and on their differences, but upon their Lord they will be healthy, happy and holy again. Let is focus our attention on I Corinthians 11:23-26. For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In 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." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."

"As far as possible, let us kneel together and ask the Lord to bless us as we partake.

"Our loving and gracious Father, we count it a real privilege today to be Your children. To reflect upon Your tremendous love as you shared your heart on Calvary and that Sunday morning celebration when Jesus came forth and as You send Spirit into each of us to give us life anew, we just want to thank you today as we come to re-focus our memory and to re-focus our hope, because we don't look back to just live in the past, we look back to remind us where we're going. And we know that we're going home. Not that we're so good, but because You are.

"Father, today we want to remember, not just a past event but Your love that is constantly being poured out into our lives. We ask that this symbol of Christ's body, this bread, that You bless each of us as we partake of it. And this grape juice that has been dedicated, we want to dedicate these symbols to You and to Your glory. And as we partake of them today, may we each one not only reflect but may we be renewed, invigorated, re-committed, refilled with Your Spirit and ready to meet Jesus when He comes, and living in the reality of Your love every day. Bless us each one, in Jesus' name we pray, Amen."

(The two ministers break some of the bread and then pass the trays with the bread and the wine to the deacons who serve the congregation.

Elder Gettys speaks: "If I were holding my uncle's dog tag in my hand, all I could do is remember Uncle Earl. Today I'm holding a piece of bread in my hand. I'm going to eat this. It's going to become a part of me. My uncle died, and Jesus died. My uncle is dead, but Jesus is alive. In fact, He lives in heaven, but more importantly He lives in my heart. This will become a part of me. So, I'm not just remembering, I'm participating with Jesus.

"Jesus spoke of the bread and He said, 'Take, eat. This is my body.'"

(As the pastor eats the bread, so does the congregation.)

Elder Gettys continues: "Amen. In the same manner He took the cup, pure grape juice, the bread, unleavened bread. Both will spoil, unlike that dog tag. Unlike those mementos in that junk drawer. They will stay there forever unchanged. These symbols will spoil. These things are alive. And we wan life. Therefore we come to Jesus, the Source of life. Jesus said concerning this symbol, 'Drink ye all of it'"

(As the pastor drinks the cup, so does the congregation._

Again, Elder Gettys continues: "Amen. The bible says that after they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. I would like to invite you to take your hymnal and we're going to sing a hymn. Then as we go out the deacons will be waiting at the doors to collect an offering for the poor."

(We sing Rock of Ages and then file out.

(I hope you have enjoyed this communion service with us today.)

Hymn of Praise: #70, Praise Ye the Father
Scripture: Romans 12:1-3
Hymn of Response: #300, Rock of Ages 

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