June 1, 2008
In 1 Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 28, we read: “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup”
The Communion service has many wonderful aspects, not the least being that of self-examination. Why does God, speaking rough the apostle Paul, command us to examine ourselves before we take the bread and wine? Where better? It is at the foot of the cross that we discover the mainspring of all Christian action. Some press on to perfection and self-improvement out of a desire to earn God's approval. They long to hear the words, `Well done, good and faithful servant.' Sometimes there is a tinge of self-centredness in such a desire. We like to feel that we have done something to deserve His love.
It has often been said that the mainspring of any Christian action, be it caring, evangelism or self-discipline, should not be on the basis of attempting to earn His love, but on the basis that we are already loved. In bidding us come to the Communion Table to examine ourselves, God wants us to see how much He loves us so that love, not fear, can be the challenge that brings about change. You see, if you try to love God without first realizing how much He loves you, then all attempts at self-improvement and self-discipline will be mechanical. In the light of His love for us at Calvary, as vividly dramatized through the bread and the wine, we are fortified to let go of all that is unlike Him, and to let Him love us into greater Christlikeness. John captured the thought most effectively when he said, “We love because ... ,” as 1 John 4:19 says:
“He first loved us.”
Gracious Father, as I ponder the meaning of the bread and wine, and consider how great is Your love for me, l feel like releasing everything in my life that is incompatible with that love. You are the great 'because' of my existence, I am so grateful. Before I partake of the Communion elements this morning, I pray that you would touch my heart and reveal to me any changes I need to make in my life so that I may participate in this celebration in a manner that is pleasing to you. Amen.
Participation in communion is open to all believers, so whether you attend this church or not you are welcome to partake.
As we prepare to be served the elements of Communion, let’s spend a few moments in quiet prayer asking God to examine our hearts and reveal to us any reason why we should refrain from participating.
Starting on my left, please come forward to be served the elements, please hold on to your serving until all have been served so we may partake together.
(When all are ready to partake) “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” Let’s partake.
(When all are ready to partake of the cup) “In the same way, after supper He took the cup saying, “This cup 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.”
1 John 3:1-3 says,
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
Let’s close in prayer.