Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Blessing of the Lord’s Table

This past Sunday our fellowship, in keeping with its long standing custom, celebrated the Lord's Table on the first Sunday of the month. I look forward to our time around the Lord’s Table as a local body of believers. Communion is a very special time for me. I will admit that I lament and sometimes mourn that we do not celebrate or commemorate the Lord’s Table each week. Though I have participated in the Communion Service an innumerable number of times, have preached and taught on Communion, and have meditated heavily on it, I do not profess to be an expert nor to have the last word. However, I think that many times we miss the blessing and the meaning of the Lord’s Table by our rote, abbreviated, “moment” of reflection and by our actions. I realize there isn’t much that can be varied or changed in the celebration. It is a struggle to keep any pattern or form of observance from becoming ritualistic or routine. If we are not careful in our endeavor to truly see the significance of the Lord’s Table we can miss the blessedness of God’s gift to the church in this ordinance. (This is not the time to discuss transubstantiation or consubstantiation, or memorial.) It seems from a careful study of the New Testament that God has given us two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Table. Baptism is to be performed once after an individual has professed allegiance to and acceptance of the gospel message. The Lord’s Table is to be conducted as often as we wish or determine by believers who have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ. What is the significance of baptism? Briefly, it demonstrates in a physical pictorial form what has transpired in the life of one who has repented of their sins and turned in faith to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is an identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the life of one who once had no identification with Him. In other words, a baptismal candidate is stating publicly that he or she is identifying themselves with and as a recipient of the death of Jesus Christ. They are acknowledging that they now trusting in the acceptance of God the Father of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Son in His death as their means of eternal forgiveness and redemption. At the Lord’s Table we do the very same thing. Why did God give this ceremony to the church? It is to be a frequent reminder that we publicly identify with the death of Christ on the cross for our eternal salvation. We are also stating that the ability to now live as a Christian, to put off the deeds of the flesh and to put on the deeds of the Spirit, can only come as a result of Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection. When we eat the bread, which represents His body, and drink the wine or juice that represents His blood, we are stating that everything I now have and everything that I now am in Christ has been purchased for me by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s acceptance of that death. Where do we miss these truths? We miss these truths when we take a “few minutes for reflection on our lives in order to confess known sin.” We miss these truths when we fail to mention that we are now to live in light of the death of Christ. We miss these truths when we minimize (many times very unintentionally) our identification with the death of Christ. Christ purchased for us so much more than just heaven, or “eternal life” when He died on the cross. He purchased every blessing we will ever experience. He purchased forgiveness, redemption, inheritance, freedom, and the ability to live for Him in this life as He commands. As we celebrate the Lord’s Table we should focus on what was purchased by the death of Christ. As we are dismissed from the table we should focus on the fact that we now can live in light of what the death of Christ purchased and then, and only then, are we encouraged to go forth from the gathering of the body into our daily life through the scattering of the body living as one who has been truly redeemed. Don’t miss the significance of the Lord’s Table by simply reflecting on some sin that may need to be confessed prior to eating and drinking in order not to be judged in some manner. No, the table is so much more than that! Thank God for the great gift of the Lord’s Table and for all that it means to us who have been redeemed by the sacrifice of His body and the shedding of His blood! What do you think?

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