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WHY SHOULD WE BREAK BREAD TOGETHER?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
2 OCTOBER 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 Corinthians 10:14-22
Preparation Verse: (Acts 2:42)
And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Why should we break bread together?
Or more particularly, why should we come together to celebrate the Lord's Supper?
Let's begin to answer this question, and others, by taking another look at our Old Testament lesson of this morning, Jeremiah 31:31-34.
31. "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32. not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.
Jeremiah lived in the days when the ten tribes of Israel had already been taken captive into the land of Assyria, and during the period when Judah was being led into captivity in Babylon.
Israel had become a mighty nation while living in Egypt, but their might was primarily limited to their number, and not to their faith in God.
In their faith they were weak as we are weak as a nation, and as a world.
But God, nevertheless, had mercy for them and led them out of their captivity in Egypt to the land He had promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And the sons of Israel followed Moses out of the land of Egypt with many signs and wonders from the Lord.
But like so many of us today, when the signs and wonders stopped and things got a little tough, they began to grumble and forget about all that the Lord had done, for they had little faith.
Thus the Lord was angry with them, but He did not destroy them. Instead He still reached out to them to try to show them the truth about who He is, and that they were to have a grace/faith relationship with Him.
All God wanted them to understand was that if they were sorry about the sins they committed, and believed and trusted in Him, He would forgive them and prosper them.
He wanted them to live in His creation intent.
But they couldn't seem to understand that loving concept, and that same lack of understanding exists with most people today.
Therefore, God handed down to Moses a series of laws and ordinances by which the people were to live, which were in essence a way of limiting their sinful ways.
The Law was a physical "touch stone" that they could relate to, for they could not seem to relate to God in their spirits.
God also knew that they would not be able to live by the Law. Thus it was set up as a teaching tool for the people, to point them back to God in the spiritual realm, where there is no death; and at times it did.
But for the most part, the people didn't follow the Law any more than they accepted God's true love and grace; thus they were led into captivity.
But God said, "I still love you. I will bring you back to Me one day, and in that day I will make a new covenant with you."
It wasn't really a new covenant, though it would replace the Law. It is the original covenant that they couldn't understand.
But this new covenant would come with a new and living "touch stone."
And that "touch stone," that Rock upon which the new covenant would be built is Jesus Christ, God incarnate, and He came to show all of us the true meaning of God's love.
The Lord was a husband to Israel, but they rejected Him.
The Lord is also the husband of the believing church.
33. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the Lord, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34. "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the Lord, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
And what is this covenant that will make all this change take place?
It is the greatest of all covenants. It is the greatest of all laws. In fact, it will fulfill all other laws.
What is it?
It is the covenant that gave us Jesus Christ. It is the covenant that frees us from our sin and death.
It is the covenant of love!
This is the same covenant by which He created the heavens and the earth with the intention of having no death or suffering for any being.
With it we shall love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might, and we will love our neighbors as ourselves.
If we truly love God in the way, we will also love the whole of His creation, and do everything in our power to protect it from any harm, whether physical or spiritual.
And in the gathering together and celebrating the Lord's Supper is the reminder of the great love of God toward us.
With this celebration is also the convicting reminder that as God loves us, so should we love Him and each other, no matter who we are or where we come from, and all of the animals; for God is the same God to us all.
We also come together to strengthen ourselves in the Lord so that we will not be drawn away into the world, which brings us to our New Testament lesson for this morning, 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.
14. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
As a whole, we get lonely when we are alone for any long periods of time. We desire the company of others; thus we can be drawn into the company of the ungodly, if the family of God does not provide a proper place for coming together, and fill that place with true love.
We are to flee from the idolatry of the world.
But where are we to flee if we see no other haven of rest?
In this question is expressed the whole problem with the church.
All over the world many churches just look like the rest of the world. They have become social gathering places, and not true houses of worship and sanctuaries of comfort.
Thus we are to come together as the body of Christ to remind ourselves of how we should live, and that we should love each other.
15. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.
16. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
17. Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
All over the world we are gathered together in one body to share in the blood and body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We do this in remembrance of the fact that Jesus died equally for all believers, regardless of any other condition.
In God's eyes, all truly repentant believers are equal.
And our coming together in Holy Communion acknowledges this fact, or at least it should.
Now, just because we partake of the Lord's Supper does not make us believers, or sharers in the body and blood of the Lord.
18. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?
Yes, but during the times of the sacrifices, many of those who ate of the sacrifice also turned away from the Lord.
Killing of any kind for any reason can never really bring us closer to the Lord.
19. What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
20. No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
21. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
22. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
And again the answer is no!
We celebrate open communion here, as do many other churches all over the world. All who believe are welcome to participate, but many will come who do not believe.
Note what we are told in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32.
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 let a man examine himself, and so let him 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.
30. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
31. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.
32. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world.
Then what are we to do?
On the contrary, we are to come!
But first we are to truly examine ourselves. Then we are to confess our sins to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness and help to keep us from sinning again.
Then we are to come together in celebration of the completed work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, and be renewed in Him and His love.
God does not want to condemn anyone, but He does want to convict us so that we might grow in His love through our acceptance of all that He has for us.
As we come together this morning and partake of the Lord's Supper together with others all over the world, leave behind the sinful nature that we all have, and be filled anew with the greatest gift that mankind has ever received: the Lord Jesus Christ.