10
Oct
07

Taking the Lord’s Supper

Perhaps some of you have noticed how we have increased the number of times we observed the Lord’s Supper at CrossPoint in 2007. Prior to this year we have typically offered the sacred meal three or four times a year—primarily around special events like Easter and Christmas. By the end of this year we will have taken the Lord’s Supper six times. It is our objective to contemplate Christ’s great sacrifice through this meal at least nine or ten times in 2008.

Earlier this year I met with several of my pastor friends for our annual pastor’s retreat. During the week of praying, laughing, reading and studying together, we discussed the importance of the Lord’s Supper. Each of us came to the conclusion that we are not allowing our people to experience the full effect of the meal by offering it so randomly and rarely. By the week’s end each one of us made a commitment to place the Lord’s Supper in its sacred place.

When I take the Lord’s Supper my heart is flooded with all sorts of emotions. I experience grief over Christ’s death. I encounter remorse over my sins. I feel supremely joyful about my salvation. Most of all, I sense a real “spiritual refreshing” that comes when I take the bread and drink the juice.

Two weeks ago a friend of mine recommended I read Steven J. Lawson’s book, The Expository Genius of John Calvin. Although the book is only 133 pages in length, it is crammed full of inspiration and conviction for any preacher who reads it. This particular preacher plans to read it one more time in order to glean other kernels of truth I may have missed in my first reading.

Early in the book, Lawson describes Calvin’s devotion to the Lord in the face of adversity. The example the writer used centers on an event pertaining to the abuse of the Lord’s Supper.

Lawson writes,

For Calvin, these prolific years in Geneva were anything but an “ivory tower” experience. While ascending his pulpit regularly, he met much difficulty on every side. Frail in stature, Calvin suffered many ailments. He also endured physical threats to his life. Yet Calvin never ceased his exposition.

Further, groups of Geneva’s citizens cause him much pain, not the least being the Libertines, who boasted in sinful licentiousness. Sexual immorality was permissible, they claimed, arguing that “communion of the saints” meant that their bodies should be joined to the wives of others. The Libertines openly practiced adultery and yet desired to come to the Lord’s Table. But Calvin would have none of it.

In an epic encounter, Philibert Berthelier, a prominent Libertine, was excommunicated because of his known sexual promiscuity. Consequently, he was forbidden from partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Through the underhanded influence of the Libertines, the City Council overrode the church decision, and Berthelier and his associates came to the church to take the Lord’s Supper with swords drawn, ready to fight. With bold audacity, Calvin descended from the pulpit, stood in front of the Communion table, and said, “These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned and dishonor the table of my God.” Berthelier and the Libertines withdrew, no match for such unflinching convictions.

Oh my! What conviction. I am not sure one could find that conviction about the Lord’s Supper in the local church today, since few people understand its meaning, purpose and place in the church and in Christian history. If the Lord is willing, we will raise the level of understanding about this meal in CrossPoint’s community of faith throughout 2008.

Begin preparing your heart now for the next time we eat the bread and drink the juice in memory of Christ on November 11.

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