From the Pastor

Take and Eat, All the Work is Done

main image

One of the songs I have been listening to on repeat the last month is by a lesser known Christian musician called, "Son of Laughter."  In his song, "The Meal We Could Not Make", we have a beautiful reflection on the good news of God's grace in Jesus Christ. 

It is an invitation to bask in the rest of Christ earned through the labor of His blood, sweat and tears poured out for sinners.  I find find it helpful in preparing to take communion, as we will on Sunday.  Listen to the chorus:

So take and eat,
All the work is done.
Stretch out your feet
In the Sabbath sun.
With this bread, old ambitions break.
As we pour the wine, we feel our hungry hearts awake
To the meal we could not make.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He spoke of a deep longing to eat this meal with his friends, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16)  

Just as we long for the day when earth is invaded by heaven and Jesus makes all things new, we also hear our Lord and Savior deeply longing for the meal that is enjoyed with his disciples.  You and me.  If He had a passionate longing to explain the meaning of His suffering, as he was getting ready to despise the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him, how much more is He looking forward to enjoying the meal when all the work is done? So in eating at our Father's table during the Lord's Supper Christians get to taste, by faith, the fruit of Christ's death (His permanent grace) in order to strengthen our hope and longing for that great day!  

One last thought.  Just the name, "Son of Laughter."  It's a reference to Sarah laughing at the idea of having a son when it was humanly impossible at her age.  Enter, Isaac, the son of promise, the son of laughter.  Christians are called sons of God by faith (Galatians 3:26) as well as sons of Abraham.  Listen in again to the lyrics from our song reflecting on these Scriptures:

See the needy and unlovable
And many enemies.
I know that peace has never worked before
But this feast satisfies the thirst for war
For justice has been won
And mercy’s made us new.

We used to joke about the great hereafter
Now he’s made each of us a Son of Laughter
That little hope in you
Is finally coming true

So take and eat…

If you have a seat at the Christ's table, you should laugh! It's a wonderful cosmic joke, which also happens to be true (Matthew 28).  We are saved by grace. We are welcomed into the feast of our Heavenly Father. We were enemies.  And now we are His sons through faith!  So as you prepare for communion this Sunday there may be some tears.  Tears of repentance and sorrow for our cosmic treason and the hurt we have put on those made in God's image. But grace dries our tears (Rev. 21:1-4) and says, "I paid for this meal, take and eat.  Stretch out your feet in the Sabbath sun."

You can hear the song on Spotify and here on Youtube:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjTjJoAMLEo

There's a great interview with the musician here as well if you are interested: http://rabbitroom.com/2018/01/joking-about-the-great-hereafter/

 

Help in Preparing for the Lord's Supper

main image

How do I prepare for the Lord's Supper in a way that is helpful and not just heaping mounds of guilt upon my forgiven soul?

I want to leave you with three different helps.  First is from the Westminster Larger Catechism, summarizing the Bible's teaching on this: 

Q.171 - How do we prepare to receive the Lord’s supper?

A. Preparation for the Lord’s supper involves careful examination:1of the condition of our life in Christ;2 of our sins and failings;3 of whether we truly and to what degree know God,4 believe in him,5 and have repented,6 and of whether we love God and our fellow believers.7 We should have a charitable attitude toward everyone,8 including forgiveness of those who have wronged us.9 We must also assess how much we desire Christ10 and whether we are living in newness of obedience.11 Finally we must renew the practice of these graces in us12 by serious meditation13and fervent prayer.14
1. 1 Cor 11.28.
2. 2 Cor 13.5.
3. 1 Cor 5.7, Ex 12.15.
4. 1 Cor 11.29.
5. 2 Cor 13.5, Mt 26.28.
6. Zec 12.10, 1 Cor 11.31.
7. 1Cor 10.16-17, Acts 2.46-47.
8. 1 Cor 5.8, 11.18,20.
9. Mt 5.23-24.
10. Is 55.1, Jn 7.37, Lk 1.53.
11. 1 Cor 5.7-8.
12. 1 Cor 11.25-26, 28, Heb 10.21-22,24, Ps 26.6.
13. 1 Cor 11.24-25.
14. 2 Chr 30.18-19, Mt 26.26.

Second, here is a hymn you can read and sing this week.  It's a poetic reminder of what the Lord's Supper is about by Horatius Bonar from a hymn called, "Upon A Life I did not Live":

1. Upon a Life I have not lived,
Upon a Death I did not die,
Another’s Life; Another’s Death,
I stake my whole eternity.
2. Not on the tears which I have shed,
Not on the sorrows I have known,
Another’s tears; Another’s griefs,
On these I rest, on these alone.
Chorus:
O Jesus, Son of God, I build on what Thy cross has done for me;
There both my death and life I read, my guilt, and pardon there I see.
3. Lord, I believe; O deal with me,
As one who has Thy Word believed!
I take the gift, Lord, look on me,
As one who has Thy gift received. (Chorus)
4. Here at thy feast, I grasp thy pledge                                                                     Which life eternal to me seals,                                                                                          Here in the bread and wine I read                                                                                The grace and peace thy death reveals. (Chorus)
5. O fulness of the eternal grace,                                                                                    O wonders past all wondering!                                                                                  Here in the hall of love and song,                                                                                 We sing the praises of our King (Chorus)

You can listen to the song here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vQgk2jOESc

Mediate on the reason Jesus calls his death "food" and his blood, "drink."  Because just as we need food and drink to survive physically, we need the Lord's Supper to survive spiritually.  So as you prepare to eat at our King's table remember that God designed His sacrament for your spiritual health.  To avoid it for long periods of time will leave you spiritually emaciated, distant and weak.  We prepare by meditating on the Life lived by another, because we recognize that we need Christ's righteousness to have a seat at God's table.  The goal is not to meditate only on our unworthiness, but to rest on Christ's worth on our behalf.  We want to "grow in grace" by learning to value Jesus more!

Third, here is a quote from another hymn writer, John Berridge:

The more we feel our own misery, the more we learn to value Jesus; and the more we know of him, the more we shall trust in him; and the more we trust in him, the more we shall love and obey him. To know Jesus was the top of Paul's ambition, and is the joy and crown of each believer; it is the pinnacle of human glory; and, according to the Lord's own account, it is eternal life.

So pray, read and sing as you prepare to enjoy the blessings of God's grace on Sunday!