- We have been doing a lot of celebrating around here of late. Three weeks ago we celebrated the 57th anniversary of our church. Just last week we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit to the early church and the birth of the Christian church. Today continues that theme of celebration. Today we want to celebrate by taking communion together. I know that sounds strange, to celebrate communion. Most of us are well acquainted with what the elements of communion mean. The bread symbolizes Christ’s body and the juice celebrates Christ’s blood that was shed for us. Many times when we take communion we focus on the sacrifice that was paid for us by Christ going to the cross to die in our place. This usually results in a solemn service – as it should be. We are warned in the Scriptures that communion is not to be taken lightly. Paul even writes to the church at Corinth about how out of control communion has gotten there and he gives strict instructions on how communion is to be given and taken.
However, when we take communion we are not only commemorating Christ’s death on the cross, but we are also celebrating several things. We want to take a look at those today, but we want to start with several definitions.
Celebrate-to observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, or rejoicing or to perform (a religious ceremony) or to announce publicly or proclaim or to extol; praise or to observe an occasion with appropriate ceremony.
Communion – a possessing or sharing in common; participation; a sharing of thoughts or feelings; a religious or spiritual fellowship; a body of Christians with a common religious faith who practice the same rites or the Eucharist (the Christian sacrament commemorating Christ’s Last Supper; the consecrated elements of bread and juice used during this sacrament.
As we take a look at these definitions, it makes it less difficult to reconcile what should be done with solemnity with celebration. When we celebrate communion, we (here is an important word, communion by its very definition is difficult to celebrate individually. Yes, there are times when because of sickness that I will serve communion to an individual, but that is the exception) observe Christ’s death and resurrection with a ceremony of respect.
I’ve already mentioned it, but communion must be done within the community. One of the things that we are learning this week in reading our Bibles is that the early church was a wonderful community of believers. They had everything in common. One of the things that we are celebrating when we partake of communion is the body of Christ, a holy people. Let’s take a look at 1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set you hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” We could take the rest of the time on this by itself. We are a holy people set apart by God for His purposes. We need to celebrate with each other that he has set us apart for his work. God has created the body of Christ to do his work. We need each other. We need to work to build his kingdom. Peter goes on in vs. 22-23, “now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God…the word of the Lord stands forever.” So we celebrate communion together as a community of believers – the body of Christ.
Second, we celebrate communion because of what the blood of Christ has done for us. Peter writes, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect, He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for you sake.” This is cause to celebrate. We who have placed our faith and trust in Christ have gone from being enemies of God to friends of God. We have gone from sinners to saints because God has bought us back through the blood of Jesus Christ. Christ has purchased our freedom through His willing sacrifice on the cross. This is something to celebrate. We don’t have to die in our sin, because of the work that Christ has done in us. This particular point is usually why communion tends to be subdued, but think of this because of Christ’s work on the cross we are no longer tied to sin, because Jesus has ransomed us. This is reason number two to celebrate.
Reason number three comes from the verse 21, “Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” As we gather each Sunday in this sanctuary, it really is a miniature resurrection Sunday celebration. Each week we should be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. In dying on the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sin, but in rising from the dead Jesus took the keys of sin, death and hell. John Wesley wrote, “He breaks the bonds of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free.” This all happened when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Without the resurrection there is no breaking the bonds of sin, death and hell. Without the resurrection, we have no hope of ever being resurrected ourselves.
And this is the fourth reason to celebrate communion together. Through Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we have the hope of going to heaven with him. We have the hope as we sung this morning of reigning in the heavenly kingdom with him.
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see
and I look upon His face the one who saved me by his grace.
Then he takes me by the hand and leads me to the promised land.
What a day glorious day that will be.
The hope of a resurrection of these bodies gives us cause to celebrate this morning.
In addition to the resurrection of these bodies, we have the blessed hope that Jesus is coming back again some day. In the Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he says, “for every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” The last thing that we celebrate is that every time we take communion together we remember that Jesus is coming back again. Not only do we have hope of a glorious resurrection, but we have the hope of eternal life in God’s kingdom of heaven.
So do we have reason to celebrate during communion? The answer is yes. What are the reasons again?
- We celebrate that we are a community of believers – the body of Christ
- We celebrate the blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s death on the cross
- We celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus, who broke the chains of sin, death and hell
- We celebrate the hope of heaven and eternal life
- We celebrate the hope of Jesus’ return for his children.Let’s celebrate together.