Welcome to our Communion Service. Today, we once again pledge allegiance to our Creator. One of our deacons ad his wife pledged allegiance to the United States of America this week, Cornelius and Ulna Keet have become citizens of the United States.
It is so hard to understand! After all He had been through, Jesus kept going. He had poured His life into His disciples. But they still did not really know Him. You remember from last Sabbath how they had kept vying for position. How Jesus had predicted the betrayal by Judas and the denial by Peter. How all ten of the other disciples had promised never to forsake Him. Jesus knew that they would all desert Him.
Having full knowledge of the hearts of men, Matthew records the symbols of the sacrifice that Jesus had decided to make anyway. Don't turn there now, just listen with your heart. For those that wish to read it later, it begins in Matthew 26:26. You have heard these words many times before, and many times before, we have needed to apply them to our lives, and it is no different this time.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Do you notice who broke the bread? Jesus broke the bread. It was Jesus who offered to come as a sacrifice and to be broken for us. He's the One that did the breaking. Yes, we humans did the actual physical part, but Jesus Himself said, "I am willing to go through with this breaking. He broke the bread and He gave it to His disciples saying, "Take and eat; this is My body." Jesus was offering to go through severe torture for His disciples, for His people, even though we rejected Him, even though His created beings would be the ones who would pierce the flesh of their Creator. He washed the feet that He created and we pierced the feet of the Creator. Yet, Jesus hands us, the guilty ones, the broken bread. This does not compare with anything else that we know on this earth. That's why it is so hard for us to comprehend. Maybe in some small vague way the love of a parent for their small child, no matter what.
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. All of you? Yes, Peter, that means you, too, even though you're going to deny Me. Yes, Judas, that means you, too, even though you're going to betray Me. Yes, the rest of you, even though you walk away from Me. "Drink from it all of you." This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
Jesus was offering to die for people that even openly hated Him, not just His weak kneed followers of yesterday and today. It is poured our for forgiveness of sins, their sins, your sins, my sins, if we will just accept it. This is what we call "agape": unconditional love. He died for people that deserved death. He paid a debt that He did not owe; and I owe a debt that I canot pay. I'm glad that Jesus loved me, this I know.
In Romans 5:6-8 Paul says: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the UNgodly. I like that. You remember what Jesus said when he was on earth? "I didn't come for the righteous, I came for the sinners." He died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That is amazing.
There's a verse you may have also read that tells us why: John 3:16-17. It goes like this: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Who said that? Well, Jesus said that.
"For God, the Father, so loved the world." So, it is God the Father that loved us so much that He was willing to give us His Son? I can't comprehend that. When I became a father, this whole story became much more incredible! You parents know what I mean. He gave His Son? Was that somebody Who didn't even love Him? It's beyond my comprehension. Now, my daddy and I have always been close, but I never knew how much my daddy loved me until I became a daddy. It made me love him even more! What an eye opener that experience is. Your father may not have been as wonderful as mine is. You father may have been an abusive tyrant. I don't know. It doesn't matter, because we have a heavenly Father that loves you with a perfect love, an unconditional love
Jesus wants us to be close to our Heavenly Father. When He spoke of His Father, when he taught His disciples to pray, He used very close and personal language. In Aramaic, Jesus would have used the word, "Abba." The Greek will usually translate this word as "Patera" or "Father." But the closest English translation we have is, "Daddy." It denotes a childlike intimacy and trust, not disrespect. Too much formalism can build a barrier that will kill a relationship. In our personal relationship with God, we can have the intimacy and trust of a child with his or her daddy. Yes, God is still God, and we reverence His name, but He has called us His children! How awesome is that? Remember when Jesus said, "I call you friends." How awesome is that!
I was going through a box of old papers this week throwing some things away, trying to un-clutter my life, and I came across an old appointment calendar from eight years ago. "What am I doing with this?" I thumbed through it with a little interest, and that is where I discovered that it was eight years ago this Sabbath, that I stood in this pulpit. "Oh, that's cool." I preached here for the first time eight years ago today. It brought back a flood of memories of coming to McDonald Road Church, and also the apprehension that we had.
I had been senior pastor for too long. "I'm going to be an associate pastor. Hmm. How's this going to work? Who is this Don Gettys fellow that I'll be working with?" I got a chance to know him just a little bit. You see, the dormitories at Georgia-Cumberland Academy were a shambles. The conference office in their great wisdom decided to invite all the pastors to come and renovate the dorms. They meant: demolish. They said, "Bring your sledge hammers." I say, "In their great wisdom" because the conference office often understands the frustrations that build up in the pastor's heart, and they need relief from time to time. I wonder if they had begun to think they had gone too far. But they had already lit the fuse and it was too late.
It was dangerous to walk around the outsides of those dormitories because anything could come flying out the windows at any time. I personally saw a toilet fly out of a window that had not even been opened yet. These guys were releasing frustrations. It was fun.
In the midst of all this, I was working side by side with a man named, Don Gettys because we wanted to get to know each other a little bit before I came to McDonald Road. I decided to find out what our working relationship would be like, so I tested him. So, I started calling him by his most proper title: Elder Gettys. "Elder Gettys, what about this?" Elder also happened to be my title. But I really wasn't into titles. He very quickly informed me that we were colleagues and friends, and that I should call him, Don. He passed that test. I knew this was going to be good.
As we began to work together here in the church, I decided to push it a little bit further. When there was only one office here, I walked in one morning that first week and I said to him, "Good morning boss-man." He put up his hand and said, "No I am not, and never will be your boss. We are friends. Don't call me boss-man!" And it has been wonderful.
In our personal friendship, our relationship with God, we need to allow Him to break down any wall that separates us from Him. We can get personal with God. After all, He knows everything about us. Isn't that incredible? My daddy knows me, but he loves me anyway! I know my children, and I love them more every day! God knows absolutely everything about me and He loves me, anyway. He loves me so much, that in spite of this, that He sent Jesus to wash my dirty feet and die in my place for my dirty sins! That's right. It is hard to understand, isn't it. Maybe that is why we're told that eternity will not be long enough for us to figure this one out.
It is hard to understand that we are an integral part of the most wonderful love story in the Universe! I believe that the most theologically profound song is the one that we learned in Cradle Roll "Jesus loves me, this I know..." If you've got that, you've got something. But when we read John 3:16, we see that not only Jesus loves me this I know, but it was God the Father who loved us so much that he was willing to send Jesus. "Abba loves me, this I know." Maybe we should wish our Heavenly Father a happy Father's Day with the best gift that we can give-- ourselves in total surrender! Let's begin now by accepting the symbols laid before us of His great sacrifice.
Everyone here is welcome to participate. If you are not a member of this church, or if you are. If it is not in your comfort level you are welcome to stay here while we go to wash one another's feet. That's fine. You are even welcome to come and observe. This morning I had the privilege of serving a young man who had just been baptized. He had never participated in Communion before. And I got to wash his feet. And that was exciting. So, even if it's your first time, please come back and participate with us. You are welcome too.
The women that would like to participate together, as you leave, there is a hallway that goes off the lobby to the left. You may use either classrooms three and four.. The men can go to classrooms one and two down the right hallway. The families that would like to participate together may continue down that hallway to the fireside room. Let's divide at this time.
(While the participant wash each other's feet, the organ is playing softly in the sanctuary for those who feel they would rather not participate in the foot washing service. In the classrooms, there are people kneeling to wash the feet of their companions and as each pair finishes there are couples kneeling together in prayer, rededicating their lives to the Lord. As they leave to go back to the sanctuary, there are many hugs and tears, tears of joy.
(Now that all the people have returned to the sanctuary and taken their places, the two ministers and the deacons line up and com marching in. Wne they all have arrived at their stations they all sit down together.)
Pastor Carlson speaks: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 says, ....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 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.
Let us kneel for prayer: Our gracious heavenly Father, It is with a sense of awe that we come to this very special service, recognizing that though You are infinite in power and majesty, yet in the person of You Son you came to this earth as a human. And the ultimate sacrifice to give up your Son for us. For Him to shed His blood and to die. How grateful we are that You are an unselfish God. And because of that, we ask that as we remember this great sacrifice through the emblems of Jesus' death, the bread and the juice, that our hearts would come out to You in adoration and admiration. We dedicate this moment and our lives and our heart to You. We thank you in Jesus' name, Amen.
(The pastors pass the trays of emblems to each of the deacons and they in turn take the emblems to the congregation. Now the deacons return and as each give his tray to the pastor, the pastor holds the tray for the deacon to get the bread and the grape juice. Each deacon returns to his place, and at a nod from the pastor, they all sit down.)
Pastor Crutcher speaks: Are you thinking about it? It is so simple. Just a few ingredients. But is so complex that we will never understand through eternity. Jesus loves me, this I know. He said, "This is My body whish is broken for you. Take and eat it."
(And we all take and eat it together.)
The blood of the covenant spilled for all. Drink ye all, of it.
(And we all drink together.)
It's beyond comprehension. Have you noticed how quiet the church is during Communion? Why is that? This is the most solemn occasion, isn't it. And yet, also the most rejoiceful (sic) of times. Yes, it's solemn that Jesus died for me. It's also exciting that Jesus died for me. Allow that excitement to infuse you as we leave this place together singing a hymn. You can't keep this to yourself. We must share this to the world.
Theological Dictionary of the NT by Kittle
Hymn of Praise: #221, Rejoice, the Lord is King Scripture: John 13:13-17 Hymn of Response: #409, Jesus Invites His Saints
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last updated June 20, 2005 by Bob Beckett and Eric Koester.