Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Communion and the Art of Preaching to Yourself

My church observes communion on the first Sunday morning of every month. Prior to this, we observed the Lord's Supper every quarter, but not on a set Sunday, so at times it seemed sporadic. I have been so thankful and happy about this change to our service planning. I love communion. I love proclaiming the Lord's death till he comes. I love glorying in the cross and in my savior Jesus Christ. I love my brothers and sisters at my church and I love seeing a visible representation of our unity in Christ as we take the elements together. I am also encouraged and strengthened as I see foreshadowed before our church, the great final supper where the bride will meet the bridegroom and feast in the comfort and peace of the Lord, God Almighty.

The Lord's supper could be preached every Sunday and the immeasurable riches of God, the unparalleled sacrifice of our Savior, the glory of being accepted into God's family, the hope that it gives as a sign that he is coming again, the beauty of the atonement, the pervasive reality of the forgiveness of our sins, the importance of eating it in a worthy manner, the importance of the proclamation and remembering, all these could never be mined to their depths in any way. Nonetheless, we try. We remind ourselves of its significance. We seek the wisdom and encouragement of its promise. We seek the communion with our risen Lord.

This past Sunday, my pastor preached a wonderful sermon on the importance of proclaiming the Lord's death till he comes. It was a beautiful service although it had a few glitches that bother the worship leader side of me (caused by yours truly!!!). But as a worshiper, I was reacquainted with my hope that is expressed in a multitude of ways through participating in communion with my brothers and sisters. And it is this hope and our assurance of it that sustains us. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, ESV) Proclaiming the value and the nature of Christ's death till he comes is one of the most tangible ways that we can preach the cross to ourselves as well as preach our hope for his return to own mind and heart.

Preaching to ourselves is something I'll pick up on later, but more and more I see that singing is exactly this. I think that when Paul tells the Ephesians to "speak to one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual psalms" he's giving them the greatest tool they have to preach to one another and to themselves. Singing songs in worship, for me, is a chance to meditate on great spiritual truths and to preach them to my own heart.

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and Righteousness"

"Let goods and kindred go, the mortal life also. The body they may kill, God's truth abideth still"

"No guilt in life, no fear in death: this is the power of Christ in me. From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny"

"What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus."

"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence, he hides a smiling face."

"There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not; As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be."

"He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His rightousness and wonders of his love."

"All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain, Who hath borne all our sins, and hath cleans'd every stain."

I could go on and on, but I won't. My point is that when we sing these lines, we preach to one another the truth of scripture in these songs. So, we preach to ourselves as we sing as well as when we take communion. Below is a new hymn for communion written by Keith and Krystyn Getty. Read and preach its truths to your own heart.

Behold The Lamb (Communion Hymn)
Words and Music by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty & Kristyn Getty
© 2006 Thankyou Music
Behold the Lamb who bears our sins away,
Slain for us - and we remember
The promise made that all who come in faith
Find forgiveness at the cross.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of peace
Around the table of the King.
The body of our Saviour Jesus Christ,
Torn for you - eat and remember
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life
Paid the price to make us one.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of love
Around the table of the King.
The blood that cleanses every stain of sin,
Shed for you - drink and remember
He drained death's cup that all may enter in
To receive the life of God.
So we share in this bread of life,
And we drink of His sacrifice
As a sign of our bonds of grace
Around the table of the King.
And so with thankfulness and faith we rise
To respond, and to remember
Our call to follow in the steps of Christ
As His body here on earth.
As we share in His suffering
We proclaim Christ will come again!
And we’ll join in the feast of heaven
Around the table of the King

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