Candlelight and Communion 2017
Christmas Communion Service 2017
Don't Take Communion, Allow Communion to Take You
This is a Time of…
This is an open communion which means that all believers are welcome to participate. However, Paul gives a warning not to do so flippantly.
I Corinthians 11:27-29 (NIV)
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
Prayer of Reflection and Confession
I Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV)
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
You know, there are a lot of famous pairings. You have peanut butter and jelly. Probably my most favorite. You have baseball and summer. Football and fall. You have celebrities that have been famously paired. You have Sonny and Cher. You have comic book pairings. Batman and Robin. Cartoon parings. Tom and Jerry. If you are a child, you have the pairing of Bert and Ernie. If you are into Sci-Fi, you like Han and Chewy.
My point is, there are things in life that just go together. Things that fit naturally. Then there are other things in life that seemingly do not fit. One of those things, believe it or not, is Christmas and Communion.
I have always struggled with performing a communion service on Christmas Eve. The reason for the struggle is because the cross, in the context of when it was performed, was a dark day. The day of Jesus’ birth in contrast is a very joyous day. A day where light pushed back darkness and God entered into the world.
For me, it is difficult to marry these two events together. A day of profound darkness and a day of extreme joy and light.
So, in my struggle, I did what I knew to do. I read Scripture. I went to God’s Word and asked the Lord to help me place the two distinctly different events together. How to I put together the horrible and the beautiful in one sermon.
I was taken to one of my favorite pieces of Scripture captured in Matthew 1:18-23.
Matthew 1:18-23 ESV
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Immanuel, God with us. God coming near to humanity. God becoming human, putting on flesh, and living among people.
Do you remember the upper room? The first element of the last supper was bread. Jesus took the bread and broke it. It was symbolizing His body being broken on the cross. Yet, I also think Jesus was taking the bread in remembrance of what the angel said. God would come to humanity in the flesh. God would become one of them, one of us.
God in flesh. We call this the incarnation.
Friends, let me remind you that in order for the bread to be broken, it first had to be birthed. Jesus came to the world in flesh so that in His flesh, He could take the punishment for our sins.
I want remind each of you why the body of Christ is important. The prophet Isiah certainly looked to the day of his Savior’s service.
Isaiah 53:5 NKJV
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Brief Prayer of Blessing Bread
The Bread Passed
Luke 22:19 (NIV)
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.
I Corinthians 11:25-26 (NIV)
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
A year ago, on "Good Morning, America," Lara Spencer featured some extraordinary gifts you might want to include on your Christmas gift list.
One of them was a Jaguar automobile, the Jaguar XJ220. If you care to order one of these, go to your Jaguar dealer and put down your $80,000 deposit. Then when the automobile is delivered, you are expected to pay the balance of $507,000. The Jaguar 220 is a $587,000 automobile, and they only make 250 of them a year.
Lara Spencer mentioned that if you were to purchase such an automobile, you might also be interested in a new car wax that promises to give it the ultimate shine. It retails for $3,400 for an 8 ounce can. I guess if you can afford a $587,000 automobile, why not spend $3,400 for car wax?
A third item she mentioned was a $300,000 gold and silver toilet seat inlaid with precious stones. Of course, there were cheaper gifts for those who have everything: an $18,000 frisbee, a $10,000 yoyo, a $12,000 mousetrap, and even a $27,000 pair of sunglasses.
And for the proud grandparent who is wondering what to buy the new grandbaby, how about a $28,000 pacifier?
Such gifts stagger our imagination, don’t they? But they are not indescribable. Only God can give gifts beyond description, and priceless besides. His greatest was the gift of Christ Jesus. At communion, we remember our most precious gift-- the forgiveness that came through the the shedding of Jesus’ blood. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
The blood of Christ is indeed a powerful gift. In order for our sins to be forgiven, blood must be shed. We call this atonement.
Leviticus 17:11 ESV
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.
We see this reflected in the New Testament as well in Hebrews 9:22.
Hebrews 9:22 ESV
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Jesus shed HIs blood on the cross as a perfect sacrifice so that we could be healed, so that we could be forgiven.
Another very powerful point I want to share with you is that through Christ’s blood, we can now have nearness with God. We can come to God, the very throne room of the Holy, and have a relationship with Him. The shedding of blood broke down the barrier between God and Man.
I don’t read from The Message translation very often, but I like how it captures Hebrews 10:10-22.
Hebrews 10:10-22 The Message
14 It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. 15 The Holy Spirit confirms this: 16 This new plan I'm making with Israel isn't going to be written on paper, isn't going to be chiseled in stone; This time "I'm writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts." 17 He concludes, I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins. 18 Once sins are taken care of for good, there's no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them. 19 So, friends, we can now - without hesitation - walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." 20 Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. 21 The "curtain" into God's presence is his body. 22 So let's do it - full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out.
Brief Prayer of Blessing The Cup
The Cup Passed
Luke 22:20 (NIV)
In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
The Cup Is Taken
Transition to Candle Lighting
It was Christmas Eve in the Austrian Alps and Pastor Joseph Mohr was preparing for the midnight service. He was distraught when he found out that the church organ was broken, ruining prospects for that evening’s carefully planned music. But Pastor Mohr was about to learn that our problems are God’s opportunities, that the Lord causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. It came to Pastor Mohr’s mind to write a new song, one that could easily be sung without an organ. Hastily, he wrote the words, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Taking the text to his organist, Franz Gruber, he explained the situation and asked Franz to compose a simple tune. That night, December 24, 1818, “Silent Night” was sung for the first time as a duet accompanied by a guitar. It was first used in America by German-speaking congregations, then appeared in it current English form in a book of Sunday School songs in 1863. Were it not for a broken organ, the Christmas carol “Silent Night” would have never been written.
Silent Night, is a song about light entering the world. That light is Jesus Christ.
John 8:12 NKJV
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
John 9:5 NKJV
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Friends what good is a light if it is not shared. The entire point of our faith is that we do not want people to live in darkness the way we once did. We want them to be living in the light. The light of Christ.
This Christmas, it is my prayer that we will enjoy the light of Christ living in us. It is my hope that we will share the light and in doing so, bring peace and joy to all mankind.
Go, light your candle today!
The Candle’s Lit
Closing Prayer and Dismissal