Introductory Comments – Ferd
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it is fitting that we gather as a wider church family not only to talk business and strategy but also - indeed, in the first place - to remember Christ, the author and perfector of our faith. We have concluded a great deal of work, we heard reports, shared visions, reenacted our journey of faith, remembered the work that was done before us, we have reflected on the many expressions of our witness as Mennonite Church Manitoba – past, present and future. And now we want to call to mind Christ’s invitation to a deeper fellowship and communion with Him and with each other.
Sermon – Ferd
As we prepare ourselves to meet Christ and each other at the Lord’s Table I invite you to reflect with me on a few points:
1. In celebrating the Lord’s Supper together as the Mennonite Church in Manitoba we make a number of proclamations:
1. We proclaim Christ’s Death until he comes
· The Lord’s Supper “in memory of Him” points to our relatioship with Christ, who died for our sins to reconcile us to God.
2. We proclaim the unity of the Spirit and the diversity of Gifts in the Church
· We are familiar with Dirk Philips’ illustration of the Body of Christ: “As the bread is made of many grains broken and ground together, and out of many grains has come one loaf of bread in which every little kernel has lost its individual body and form; and likewise, as the grapes, by changing their form become the body of a common wine and drink, so also must all Christians be united with Christ and with one another.”
· Sadly, this illustration points to the reality that not all grains of wheat (or individual members and even groups of members within congregations) willingly give up their individual identity so that something greater, the loaf of bread (the Body of Christ), can find expression.
· A challenge for us as Mennonite Churches in Manitoba is to focus on the greater thing – the spiritual reality and benefit – not for ourselves primarily, but for the hurting world around us, to the glory of God.
A) May we seek to give ourselves fully as individuals and as congregations within Mennonite Church Manitoba to BE together what we cannot BE alone – namely a symbol of God’s reconciling love in a hurting world.
B) May we also rejoice in the diversity of gifts and flavours that we find so richly represented in our congregations, that the pleasing aroma of a hearty piece of bread may be an inviting smell for those who hunger and thirst for God.
- We proclaim our fellowship/ Communion with Christ
· Menno Simons stated that “those who partake of the Lord’s Supper bear witness that they lead pious, unblamable lives of discipleship – that they are “in communion” with Christ and their fellowman.
· Therefore we must prove ourselves, our thoughts, our actions, our words, our motives before God.
· We must also be open to the scrutiny of our fellow brothers and sisters, fellow congregations of the wider Mennonite Church in Manitoba, Canada and world wide.
· When we are mutually accountable to each other we bear witness to the good conscience that we have before God and all people.
2. This weekend we have travelled along the “Emmaus Road” with one another.
· On the road we have caught glimpses of what God has done and continues to do.
· As we share the Bread and the cup may our eyes be opened to Christ’s presence among us.
· May we recognize our own and each other’s need for understanding, love, grace, forgiveness, indeed for new life in Christian Community.
· May our eyes be opened to see the needs of others in our communities where we worship, work and play.
· As our eyes are opened may our hearts and wills be captivated by the urgency to get back on the road to go and tell what we have seen and heard.
· Let the Spirit of the risen Christ rule in your hearts…
Invitation - Sig
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
it is right that we call to mind the
meaning of this Supper.
It is a remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ
for the sin of the world;
an encounter with the risen Lord;
a feeding on him in faith;
a communion with one another in his body, the church;
and an anticipation of the day when he will come again.
It is the Lord’s Table, and all who are baptized are invited to it.
Therefore, let us come to the Lord’s Table in faith,
knowing our weakness,
renouncing our sin,
trusting in Christ,
seeking his grace.
Words of institution for the bread - Ferd
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread,
and when he had given thanks, he broke it
and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Prayer of thanks for the bread - Ferd
Bless, O Christ, the bread that we break.
Make it the bread of our holy communion with you.
Open our eyes that we might see you by faith,
on the cross, our reconciliation with God.
May your immeasurable act of generosity draw us to love you and serve you always. Amen.
We invite you to serve each other with the bread and later also with the cup. Please hold the bread until all have been served and we will partake together.
At the beginning of the distribution of the bread - Ferd
Eat, beloved, eat the Lord’s Bread.
Words of institution for the cup - Sig
In the same way he took the cup also after
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this as often as you drink it in
remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Prayer of thanks for the cup - Sig
O Lamb of God, you shed your blood on the cross for us.
Praised be your holy name for your grace and love.
Bless this cup, O Lord.
Make it the communion of your blood,
so we may find rest for our souls and joy for our journey. Amen.
At the beginning of the distribution of the cup - Sig
Drink, beloved, drink the Lord’s Cup
Post-communion prayer - Sig
Blessed are you, O God.
You set aside this bread and cup as signs of your Son’s broken body and shed blood,
Through them you have made us partakers of Christ and of one another.
As we go forth,
give us grace to count others better than ourselves,
to love our enemies, and to seek peace.
Send the Spirit of Truth to keep alive in us
what Jesus taught and did,
in whose name we pray. Amen.