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Communion (1995 Series)

Proclaiming the Lord's Death

Scheduled for April 27

(1 Cor 11:26 NIV)  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

 

The opening is at once noble and famous:

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

 

These are the solemn words of Thomas Jefferson in his opening of the Declaration of Independence.  Most of us are more familiar with the second paragraph (“we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...”).  When men do great and noble things, it seems absolutely required that they be prefaced with great and noble words.  The line is drawn in the sand;  the Rubicon is crossed;  the call is made for blood, toil, tears and sweat.  Greatness must be announced;  it must be declared (hence Declaration); it must be proclaimed.

 

The Christian, too, is called upon to make proclamation.  Jefferson proclaimed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The Christian is called upon to proclaim the death of Jesus Christ.

 

Communion is a symbolic act.  In symbolic actions we communicate our deepest desires and thoughts.  In the deepest communication a Christian can make, he proclaims the death of Jesus.  Not the life;  not the miracles;  not the teaching;  not even the Resurrection itself -- but the death.  Why?

 

It is the central message of the Christian faith:  Jesus died -- for us.  God did not become the Incarnate Word just to teach us.  He did not walk this planet just to show us His miraculous power (wonders enough there are for that).  He did not die on the cross to show us that He is Lord of Life in the Resurrection.  He came to die.  He came to die as the sacrifice for our sins, the atonement which takes away our sin.  The miracles help us believe;  the teaching helps us live;  the Resurrection gives us our hope -- but the sacrifice in death brings us salvation.

 

So what are we “declaring?”  What do we proclaim?  Simply this:  that Jesus of Nazareth, God in the flesh, died -- that we might have eternal life.  The fountain of his mercy is free and flowing fully, for all who will.  We state that every time we take the cup and the loaf.   

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