The Community in Communion

What do you think about when you take the Lord’s Supper? I don’t know about you, but my mind can focus on a myriad of things based on how I feel that day. They are all part of what we would call “Lord’s Supper” related, but I really enjoy hearing what other people think about as well. I want to soak up every bit of Jesus that I can – and His death, burial and resurrection are central.

So, before I get started on the point of this blog post, I would like to share with you some of the things I think about.

Most often, I think about Jesus and his impact on me. Specifically, I tend to think about his death and what that means for me: He died as a sacrifice for my sins and he willingly submitted to being tortured to death so I could live with him forever. I also think of what it would have been like if I had been dead and buried for three days, or I think about how I would have reacted to seeing the empty tomb on that Sunday morning, or how I wish I could have witnessed him rising to Heaven on the clouds. I wonder what it must have been like to see Jesus performing a miracle or speaking a parable or confusing people by loving the outcasts of society.

But, all of those things have something in common. These tend to be scenes we think about when we focus on Jesus as our “personal” savior.

As an American I find it difficult to see myself as anything more than a “person” or an individual. I am the product of my own self-determination. That’s just part of our culture. But as a follower of Jesus, I also need to see myself as a part of the flock – not just a single sheep. And communion is supposed to remind us of that: the Lord’s Supper is not just vertical in nature – it is also horizontal. Jesus is more than our “personal” savior. Jesus is also our “community” savior.

There are a few phrases the Bible uses when referring to who Jesus died for: his flock (John 10:11-18), the children of God (John 11:49-53), his friends(1 John 3:16), the church of God (Acts 20:28), his bride (Eph 5:25-27) and his body (Col 1:18-22). I think it is interesting to note the corporate nature of those phrases.

And so, it makes sense in 1 Cor 10:17 when the Apostle Paul says, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” Paul even says in Ephesians 2:13-16 that Jesus died in order to unify Jews and Gentiles as “one new man in place of the two.”

So, while we partake of the Lord’s Supper, remember that it isn’t just you, or your church family, or people in your city, state or the country where you live who are partaking. We, as followers of Jesus, are taking the Lord’s Supper – as a community – with people all over the world.

Somewhere there is a small group of men and women huddled together in a tiny room who are risking their lives by taking the Lord’s Supper. Somewhere there is a gathering of people who are taking the Lord’s Supper in a hut with a dirt floor. Somewhere there is a church who meets outside in the elements while they eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus. Somewhere a person just devoted their life to Christ, and the first thing they want to do is take the Lord’s Supper. And somewhere, someone realizes they don’t have much time left in this world, and the last thing they want to do before they die – is take the Lord’s Supper.

My friends, they are desperately wanting communion not only with Jesus – but with us as well. Don’t deny them that honor as we approach our Father as a family, and consume these elements while remembering Jesus together.

Holy Father, the sacrifice of Jesus has made us your children. We are brothers and sisters who love one another with a bond only siblings can have. Although we may not be in the same room as a family together, we ask you to unite us as we take the Lord’s Supper. Bring to our mind the common joy we have because of your grace. Help us to remember the body and blood of Jesus as He gave Himself for our sins. It’s in His name we pray – amen.

The Courage of Jesus on the Cross

Going on a journey that we know is going to be tough takes courage. Jesus warns us about that in Luke 9:23 when He says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” I don’t think I’m alone when I admit that I often struggle with denying myself and taking up my cross every single day. And, that makes me pause to consider: what would I do if I lived in a place where following Jesus was met with out-right persecution, prison or death. It would take a lot of courage.

Jesus had courage. The figurative crosses we bear each day are nothing compared to the literal cross that Jesus died on for us. But, the part of His sacrifice that touches me the most is that He knew what was going to happen – and He went anyway. He knew that he would be beaten. He knew that he would be scourged with a whip. He knew that his hands and feet would be nailed to a cross. He knew that a crown of thorns would be shoved down on His head. He knew that He was going to die! Jesus had courage. He knew where He had to go. He knew the suffering He would endure. And He went anyway. Jesus. Had. Courage.

We should keep that in mind when we approach the Communion Table – if that is what your church calls it. We should remember that it has been prepared for all who recognize Jesus as their Savior. And – quite simply – all of us have been called to live a life of courage – just like Jesus did.

Philippians 1:14-21 “… because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear … And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice … I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Maybe you can use the following prayer to help prepare your mind for the Lord’s Supper —

Holy God in Heaven, we thank you for the sacrifice of Your son on the cross. We thank you for His courage to be tortured to death for us. Please help us, Father, to bring to our minds the magnitude of suffering that Jesus endured because of our sins. We ask you to help us to remember that – not only did Jesus know He was going to die for us – He knew we would one day commemorate his death by eating this bread and drinking this cup. He knew everything that was going to happen – and He went on His journey anyway. Likewise, we know that if we live for You – Lord – we can expect persecution and rejection as well. Lord, grant to us the courage of Jesus. We ask you, Father, to bless this bread and cup which represent the body and the blood of Your Son – Jesus – our Lord and Savior. We pray these things in His name – Amen.

Jesus Introduces the Lord’s Supper Concept

In just a moment you are going to read some scripture (from John 6:48-58 and Matthew 26:26-28), and I would like your undivided attention. Not only because these are from the Bible, but because THESE words – well  – these were spoken by Jesus Himself. And when our Lord and Savior says something, our minds should be focused.

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

As I go through my day-to-day life, I draw a great deal of comfort from these words – and the knowledge that Jesus died for me. And, honestly, that is huge reason for celebration. However, a few years ago my church completed a sermon series entitled “Pray for One” that really did a good job of expressing the importance in unashamedly proclaiming to people we encounter that they should celebrate the fact Jesus died for them too. And so … we take the Lord’s Supper, and celebrate that Jesus died – for us – every follower of Jesus.

I do hope and pray that you – dear reader – worship with a church that truly celebrates Jesus through the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis – and not as some methodical thing to do as part of a checklist of requirements.

Holy God, thank you for the sacrifice of your son. I ask you, Father, that whenever we come together to participate in taking the Lord’s Supper, that You will bless us as we eat and drink the elements that represent the body and blood of Jesus. In His name we pray – amen.

Celebrating Freedom

377869 48: Portrait of John Adams, second President of the United States who served from 1797 to 1801. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)
377869 48: Portrait of John Adams, second President of the United States who served from 1797 to 1801. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)

In early July of 1776, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail, informing her that independence had been declared from Britain. His prediction was spot on.

“… the whole people in every colony of the 13 have now adopted it as their own act. This will cement the union … [the day] will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated – as the day of deliverance – by solemn acts of devotion to God almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more. You will think me transported with enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that day’s transaction …”

Of course, we know that the day we declared ourselves independent from Britain was … July … the … second. Wait! July 2, 1776 was the day we declared independence? Yep — July 2nd. Isn’t that interesting? As Americans, our biggest patriotic celebration is not on the day that we declared independence. Instead, we actually celebrate July 4th – the day the founding fathers approved the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.

We do something similar with religious days too don’t we? Ask a typical American what the most important religious day is and you probably get either Easter or Christmas. But if we look to scripture, the event the early followers of Jesus stressed commemorating the most was not the birth of Jesus or his resurrection. No, they put special emphasis on Jesus death. So much so, that a yearly celebration wasn’t enough. Instead, they partook of communion every first day of the week – on Sunday. I’m so happy that the congregation where I worship follows this New Testament example.

Today is Sunday — July 3, 2016. Tomorrow, the United States will celebrate the freedom we have in this country. Today, we celebrate the freedom we have from sin because Jesus paid the price with his own life. So, think about that as you partake of the Lord’s Supper — concentrate on, and appreciate, the sacrifice Jesus made for you.

Jesus Loves The Little Children Of The World


Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

I really like children’s songs. Truth is explained in words so simple and basic that you cannot help but take notice – even now as adults. And sometimes we just need to be reminded of the simplicity of the gospel in the words of songs we were taught before we could even read.

Like this song: Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white – they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Did you ever think about how profound that sentiment was in the first century? Picture this: the church has just been established, and what is the very first thing that happens? Do they distribute flyers? Or build a building? Or plan a meeting? Or start a mission? Or create an outreach? No. None of those things.

We find out exactly what the very first thing this newly established church did in the book of Acts. In Acts 2:8-12 the witnesses in the crowd say this: “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Seriously? Everyone heard the gospel concerning Jesus in their home language? How did that happen? I think that is pretty easy to answer – it was a miracle brought about via the Holy Spirit. Maybe the better question is “why” it happened. Why would the very first thing that happens in this newly created church be for everyone to hear the good news about Jesus in their native tongue? Why would the Spirit of God be so sweeping in the format of the message? Why is it in every language? Why is it not just in the language of the Jews — Hebrew?

I think it is one of the first messages we have from God under this new covenant: everyone is welcome. Peter even quotes the prophet Joel in Acts 2:21 when he says, ‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’

In Acts 10:34 we come to understand that this even extends to the Gentiles! “Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”

So, what does that have to do with me today? Why does it matter that the gospel wasn’t just for the descendants of Abraham? And — I thought we were talking about children’s songs – right?

Well, there are two other verses of the “Jesus Loves the Little Children” song. I think they will tie it all together for us.

Second verse: Jesus died for all the children. All the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white – they are precious in His sight. Jesus died for all the children of the world.

Third verse: Jesus rose for all the children. All the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white – they are precious in His sight. Jesus rose for all the children of the world.

That is significant my friends. From the very beginning of God’s New Covenant with His people, He made it clear that He no longer had favorites. Not anymore. Now, everyone can be a follower of Jesus. Why? Because Jesus loves ALL the children of the world.