XMAS DAY COMMUNION SERVICE - "He Will Be Called Immanuel"
December 2, 2010
XMAS DAY COMMUNION SERVICE
"...HE WILL BE CALLED IMMANUEL...GOD IS WITH US."
I would like to share a story with you. Many years ago, schools were closed for the Christmas holidays and 10-year-old Charlie was thrilled to be sneaking quietly out of London to celebrate Christmas in the country. Driving along the winding roads with his Mum he was captivated by the snowy winter landscape. But suddenly the snow got heavy, the visibility turned bad and the car slid out of control ending up in a ditch. Charlie tried to push while his mother pressed the accelerator, but it was no use. They left the car and walked down the road where they knocked on the door of a little house and asked for help. Flustered, the lady invited them in to use the phone and warm up while she made tea and biscuits.
What's so special about that? You're asking, Just another everyday event, right. No. At least not to the woman who opened the door that day; she has already told this story hundreds of times. And can you blame her? It is not everyday the Queen of England, and Charles, Prince of Wales turn up on your doorstep!
On another winter's night almost 2010 years ago the Prince of Peace knocked on our door - and it was no accident. The Bible says it ‘happened to fulfil the Lord's message...he will be called Immanuel...God is with us.' Christmas can be a lonely time if you have lost your job, your family or your sense of hope. And the joy of others can be a painful reminder of what you have lost. But you are not alone. You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. - God is with you. He really is! Believe that, and you will have a blessed Christmas.
‘...THEY...PRESENTED HIM WITH...GOLD...INCENSE AND MYRRH." (Matthew 2:11)
At the end of the Advent Season we come into Christmas when we celebrate Jesus' Birthday. We give gifts to our loved ones on their birthday, but what can you possibly give to the One who not only has everything, but who created it all? The wise men probably asked the same question. As scholars they were intelligent enough to navigate thousands of miles guided by a star, influential enough to deserve an audience with King Herod and rich enough to undertake such a long journey carrying expensive presents. But in addition to ‘gold...incense and...myrrh,' they gave Jesus some gifts that are priceless - note what they gave.
- 1) Their time. Long before His birth they had invested years researching and preparing for it. - not counting the two years it took them to travel to where He was born. Do you know what? You are as close to God today as you want to be, planned to be, and took time to be. Want to get closer? Spend more time with Him.
- 2) Their worship. Once they found Him ‘...they kneeled and worshipped Him' (Matthew 2:11). Worship changes us profoundly because when we stand in God's presence with an open heart and let His Spirit work in us, ‘...we are...changed to be like Him' (2 Corinthians 3:18).
- 3) Their hope. While those around saw only darkness these men recognised, ‘The light that shines in the darkness...' as in John 1:5. And that has not changed. God's love still shines brightest in the darkness of our dashed dreams and broken hearts. So in the midst of your family celebrations, take time out to be with Jesus: and how about a special gift today to His Work? After all today is His birthday, let us make our offering a special sacrifice to Him today. He has also given us the Lord's Supper which we are going to share in our worship today.
THE LORD'S SUPPER - (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)
23. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24. 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." 25. In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. 27. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
The Lord's Supper expresses the value of Christ by nourishing our
life in Christ. If we come to Christ over and over and say, "By this, O Christ, I feed on you. By this, O Jesus Christ, I nourish my life in you. By this I share in all the grace you bought for me with your own blood and body" (1 Corinthians 10:16) - if we come to Christ over and over with this longing and this conviction in our heart: that here He nourishes us by faith, then the Lord's Supper will be a deep and wonderful act of worship. Nothing shows the worth and preciousness of Christ so much as when we come to Him to feed our hungry souls.
Where do we see this in the text? We see it in the fact that the Lord's Supper is a supper. We are eating and drinking. Why are we eating and drinking? Eating and drinking are for nourishing and sustaining life. And here Jesus tells us that the bread we are eating is His body, and the cup we are drinking is the new covenant in His blood. So the eating and drinking are no ordinary eating and drinking. The nourishment that is in the Lord's Supper comes not from bread and wine (or grape juice). This supper is not about physical nourishment. It is about spiritual nourishment.
We believe that this was closer to the truth here. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." In other words, when Jesus said in John 6:53 that we must "eat the flesh of the Son of Man," He did not mean to say that literal flesh profits anything, even if it were possible. He meant to say that His words were spirit and life. We feed on the flesh and blood of Jesus spiritually, not physically.
In our text 1 Corinthians 11:25 Paul said, "He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood.'" I am not aware of anyone who says that the cup is literally the covenant. Nor is the wine in the cup the covenant. The new covenant is God's commitment to save to the uttermost those who trust in Jesus. The cup of wine (or grape juice) represents this covenant because the blood of Christ bought the covenant for us. It does not become this covenant, but a symbol representing the covenant.
So in a few minutes, when we eat the bread and drink the cup, we may nourish our souls by faith on the spiritual presence of Christ. When we remember and proclaim His death, He manifests himself to us as infinitely precious. He shows us all that God promises to be for us in Christ. This is the food of our souls. With this we are nourished and find strength to live as Christians.
The Lord's Supper is worship because it expresses the infinite worth of Christ. No one is more worthy to be remembered. No one is more worthy to be proclaimed. And no one can nourish our souls with eternal life but Christ. So let us come and remember, and proclaim and eat. AMEN.
Before we come to the table I invite you all to confession and absolution.
CONFESSION & ABSOLUTION:
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith, firmly resolved to keep God's commandments and to live in love and peace with all. The Apostles and the Saints were faithful unto death and now live in the heavenly kingdom for ever. As we celebrate their joy, let us bring to the Lord our sins and weaknesses, and ask for His mercy.
PLEASE STAND AND BOW OUR HEADS
"Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against thee and against our neighbour, in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are heartily sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of thy Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past, and grant that we may serve thee in newness of life to the glory of thy name. Amen. May the Almighty God, who forgives all who truly repent, have mercy upon you all and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in life eternal; through Jesus Christ Our Lord" - AMEN.
(INVITE MINISTERS TO BLESS THE TABLE)
Now let us all accept Our Lord's invitation (everyone, young and old) to come to His table and receive Communion - the Lord's Supper.
"Draw near with faith. Receive the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which he gave for you, and His blood which He shed for you. Eat and drink in remembrance that He died for you, and feed on Him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving."
Choir to Sing or play appropriate Song(s) during communion.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION:
"Almighty God, we thank thee for feeding us with the Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ. Through Him we offer thee our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice. Send us out in the power of thy Spirit, to live and work to thy praise and glory." Amen.
May the Lord Jesus Christ, who has nourished us with Himself the living bread, make us one in praise and love, and raise us up at the last day; may He give us grace to follow His Apostles and Saints in faith and hope and love; and the blessing of God Almighty be upon us and remain with us always - AMEN.