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The Discipline of the Lord's Supper

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Faithful Presence  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:13
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Introduction

Issues with Technology and Fine Dining
USA Today reported that a chef named R.J. Cooper was opening a restaurant. The carpenter asked him if he would be installing a cell phone charging station at the hostess desk.
R.J Cooper answered this question abruptly with NO - 100% NO.
The article went on to report that restaurant owners are struggling to create a dinning atmosphere free from the distractions of social media and electronic communications.
Several restaurants have been banned people from talking on their phones at their restaurants. Social media distractions, they argue, are destroying people’s ability to be present with one another at a meal. They can’t be present long enough to even look at the menu and order food. As a result, time spent per customer at the tables was being extended.
When people did start eating, little social interaction was actually taking place. The ambiance of the restaurant was being ignored. So banning cell phones is actually a move to save restaurants from failing.
We Have Lost Our Capacity to Be Present.
After a busy day at work, mom and dad go off to another meeting, and children go to various programs or lessons.
We rarely take the time to eat together in our homes.
Parents and children are rarely present to each other.
Stress over work and finances occupy the attention of many parents. As a result spouses rarely tend to one another’s souls.
At church people rush in to Sunday service and then rush out again. We have lost the community feel in church and miss the presence of Jesus and one another. We just rush in and get out, look at our watches to see how much longer it’s going to be.
Our society is so busy, and distracted that we miss the presence of Jesus in our lives, as well as the presence of others in community.
In the book of Acts our flagship passage for this series tells us a lot about what we are missing.
Acts 2:42 NIV
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:46–47 NIV
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The Discipline of the Lord’s Table

The Lord’s Table is about Presence
Of course it’s about eating, but ultimately it’s a discipline that shapes a group of people to be present to God’s presence in Christ around the table, where we eat.
Then, in the process we are able to connect with the other people around the table.
The Discipline of the Lord’s Supper was inaugurated by Jesus.
The supper Jesus shared with his disciples a few hours before he was arrested has come to be known as the Lord’s Supper, the breaking of bread, Holy Communion, the Eucharist (Greek word for “thanksgiving”), or Mass.
Mark 14:22–25 NIV
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
b. This “final” meal with His disciples took place around the time of the passover, and many suspect that this exact meal was in celebration of the passover meal that every Jewish person was to celebrate.
c. There is an inevitable similarity between the celebration of the Passover as a feast of the old covenant and the Lord’s Supper as a feast of the new.
d. The former looks back with thankful remembrance to the people’s redemption and liberation from Egypt by the act of God, associated with the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.
e. The latter looks back with thankful remembrance to redemption by the act of God through the sacrifice of Christ; as the apostle Paul says, linking the two:
1 Corinthians 5:7 NIV
Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
f. The Lord’s Supper is essentially the New Testament celebration of reflecting back on the redeeming act of grace. God saving us from slavery through the death and resurrection of the lamb, Jesus.

The Way We Practice the Lord’s Supper

Different traditions practice the Lord’s supper in different ways, but there is many common core things we all do.
All churches incorporate the “words of institution” as a means to remember together, the meaning of the bread and wine.
“This is my body that is for you, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” These words draw us back to remembrance and thanksgiving for what Jesus did for us on the cross. He sacrificed his body and shed his blood so we could be saved, just like the lamb that was sacrificed the day of the passover, so the Jews could be saved from death, we to have been saved from death.
Most traditions also have some sort of prayer of thanksgiving, since that is what Eucharist means. The core of the Lord’s Supper is thanksgiving, an offering of thankfulness.
Usually the Holy Spirit is invited to the table, making possible the living and real presence of Christ at the meal. This is where things get a little divided among different traditions.
But all traditions follow the actual breaking of bread, and sharing of the cup.
The logic behind this is that his broken body and shed blood becomes a meal we ingest into our bodies as the very basis of life itself.
Unfortunately, we have made the Lord’s Supper a ceremony, instead of a time of communion with the Lord and with others.
The early church would not just follow a ceremonial system, then rush out of church to go about their day. They actually spent time together, as a community, breaking bread with one another in the presence of Christ.
To the early church, the Lord’s supper was about gathering to remember the cross, and to draw into the presence of Christ as a community. To share together, to spend time with one another. To pray together, and enjoy Jesus, celebrating with thankful hearts what the Lord had done for them.
Many churches try to capture this by celebrating the Lord’s Supper with a potluck. Which is great but as I read Acts I see something different.

The Lord’s Supper Moves Out of the Church Building and into Our Homes.

Acts 2:46 NIV
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
The people ate together in their homes!
They practiced hospitality.
It was important that the community gather in the Temple, but they would then break off into smaller groups and celebrate a meal together in their homes. Not in the church fellowship hall, their homes. But it wasn’t just getting together to eat.
Acts 2:47 NIV
praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
2. We Are called to practice hospitality.
a. There is something about meeting in our homes, praising God together, and enjoying a meal with one another that draws people into the presence of Jesus.
b. We should be opening up our homes to practice this hospitality with our Christian friend, but also with others who don’t know Christ. Invite some Christian friends over as well as your neighbour. Then practice thanksgiving to God, and let your neighbours see the presence of Jesus through each of you. Don’t be afraid to pray!
3. We are called to slow down and become present with one another. This starts at home with your family.
a. It is so important that we sit as a family, and enjoy one another.
b. Take the time to drop the electronics and have a meal together, but not just a meal, pray together, reflect on what the Lord has been doing in your lives. Ask the Holy Spirit to be present with you at the table. Enjoy the presence of Jesus as you celebrate with thankfulness and sincere hearts, what the Lord has done for you.
Big Idea: In order to be the presence of Jesus in this world, we must draw ourselves into His presence. Celebrating the discipline of the Lord’s Supper in a way that shows true community, faithfulness and thanksgiving.
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