Seward United Methodist Church
Monday, October 21, 2019
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Proclaiming Jesus Until He Comes Again

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Apostle Paul was not happy with the reports that he was receiving about the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the Corinthian church.

Now in the early Church, the connection between the Passover meal of Jewish tradition and the Lord’s Supper was still very strong. After all, they were one and the same thing when Jesus celebrated it with his disciples. Both were acts of remembrance of God’s work of salvation in the past and also an anticipation of the ultimate fulfillment of his saving work. They looked backward to what God had done and forward to what he will do.

The Lord’s Supper was not, as it is in most Christian churches today, just a token meal, so to say, attached to the rest of worship. It was a regular meal. By the end of the first century, it was called the Love Feast, though I don’t think it was called that quite yet when Paul wrote this letter.

But it’s gone wrong in Corinth. The Corinthian church was one of the few New Testament era churches that had a significant number of wealthy Christians. And the church gathered in the homes of these wealthy Christians. After all, they were the ones with homes large enough to accommodate the church’s gatherings. The problem was that they were bringing bad practices from their Greek culture into this holy celebration.

In Greek culture, the host of the banquet would seat people of his own social class in one room and those of lower social classes in a separate room, where they would receive inferior food and drink. That kind of social division is incompatible with the gospel.

But there was more. Some believers weren’t getting enough to eat and going away hungry. In Greek culture, work was, at best, a necessary evil. Rich people didn’t work. Work was for slaves and poor people to do. Apparently, the wealthy were getting to celebration early and eating their fill. But the poor and the slaves couldn’t get there until they were done with work at sunset. The social division was dishonoring them again.

Finally, it seems that the Lord’s Supper was being celebrated more along the lines of the festal banquets of the pagan holidays than its roots in the Jewish Passover.

People were over-eating and getting drunk; hardly appropriate for a solemn remembrance of God’s saving work.

When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim his death until he comes again. If it is eaten and drank in a manner unworthy of Christ, then we are proclaiming falsehood about Christ.

If we dishonor other members of the Body of Christ, then we dishonor Christ. If we act without love toward each other, then we proclaim falsehood about the love of Christ. If we go on living in our sins instead of dying to sin, then we proclaim falsehood about the saving work of Christ who died to set us free from sin.

Everything we do as followers of Christ, representatives of Christ in the world, makes a proclamation about Christ. And before we celebrate his supper, we are each to examine ourselves to be sure that we are proclaiming him faithfully.

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