Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, August 17. Read John 17:20-24. 1) Who is praying in this text? What is about to happen to him? 2) Skim back through this prayer. For whom is the prayer, largely, about?
Tuesday, August 18. Read 1 Corinthians 8:4-6. 1) What makes God unique among all the other “gods” that exist? 2) Who created everything, and how does mankind figure into that? 3) How did we receive life?
Wednesday, August 19. Read Ephesians 4:4-6. 1) What would you say the theme of this text is? 2) What should we be devoting our energies to, according to Paul, verse 3?
Thursday, August 20. Read Galatians 6:14-16. 1) What should be the center of our boasting? 2) What counts, and what doesn’t count? 3) What does being transformed make us to be?
Friday, August 21. Read Romans 12:1-13. 1) What strong command does Paul give to the Roman church in verse 3? 2) For what does Paul say we should use our gifts? 3) What virtue should characterize our relationships with each other in the church?
Saturday, August 22. Read Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer of the Week:
Dear Father, it is so easy to roll over, skip, and seek something “more fun.” We know, however, that this is not what you designed us to do. Help us to listen to your Spirit’s leading. May we lift upper most in our lives our communion with you and eat this meal you spread for us. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
Lord of Our Highest Love!
by G. Y. Tickle, 1882.
Lord of our highest love!
Let now your peace be given;
fix all our thoughts on things above,
our hearts on thee in heaven.
Then dearest Christ, draw near,
while we your table spread;
and crown the feast with heavenly cheer,
yourself the living bread.
And when the loaf we break,
your own rich blessing give,
may all with loving hearts partake
and all new strength receive.
Dear Christ! what memories crowd
around the sacred cup!
The upper room! Gethsemane!
Your foes! Your lifting up!
O scenes of suffering love,
enough our souls to win—-
enough to melt our hearts and prove
the antidote of sin.
Devotional Article of the Week:
More than a Memorial
Is there something more to The Supper than just remembering?
by Phil Ware
The Lord’s Supper — whether you call it The Supper, The Eucharist, or Holy Communion — is a holy disruption for our homogenized and carefully planned “worship experiences”! In the early church, the first disciples appear to have shared with the Lord in The Supper at least on the first day of the week. They also likely enriched some meals at home to include The Supper with awareness to Jesus’ sacrifice and presence in breaking bread.
Unfortunately, like baptisms in many churches today (and unlike the practice in the early church), the modern disciple’s time at the table is stored up for special Sundays. Or, it may be set off to the side for those who want to take The Supper each week, but those leading worship want to keep it from being part of the weekly “flow” of worship. The Supper is also programmed into a set slot and allocated a specific time in our worship orders by some groups. We then can predict where it will fall in the service, how long it will last, and many of the words that will be said.
In other words, we’ve made The Supper into something like those roadside memorials to fallen heroes or famous battlefields. It’s visible, but not vital. It’s provided, but not purposeful. It’s a commitment, but not connected to living Jesus.
When we enter into The Supper with the Lord’s presence real to us, The Supper should have a disruptive effect on the flow of our scripted services. It should shatter our neat, tidy, and regimented ways of “partaking” — using the traditional term which seems so out of phase with the biblical language for The Supper.*4 This disruptive power of The Supper must shine through two dimensions of our sharing: remembering and restoring.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.” 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.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
The Supper calls me to remember. I remember the betrayal and abandonment of Jesus by his disciples. I remember the unfair trials. I remember the humiliating and sadistic nature of Jesus’ crucifixion. I remember the Lord’s words on the cross. I remember the mocking and ridicule the Messiah endured while he hung there cursed and humiliated. I remember how alone and abandoned Jesus felt as he hung naked before the mob of gawkers and gave up his spirit.
Communion invites me to remember. However, The Supper’s kind of remembering is as disruptive and heartbreaking as it is riveting. The story of God’s Son on a cross is agonizingly too true to our cruel and sadistic world of hatred and human suffering. So rather than asking us to put everything of our world out of our minds so we can worship properly and antiseptically, The Supper brings Jesus to our memory in the worst realities of our fallen condition and meets us there.
There is no sterile place to hide from our world in The Supper. Not when it connects us to YAHWEH’s Suffering Servant and our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth (Isaiah 53). We enter The Supper with our broken lives. We take The Supper by breaking bread to remind us of our broken world that murdered its Savior. As we do, we find Jesus as God with us. We know this Jesus was part of our broken world in his incarnation, and he joins us once again in our world in The Supper.
Jesus entered our brokenness, shared our brokenness, and suffered our brokenness for us. In The Supper, we are reminded why the Father sent Jesus to our broken world (John 3:16). We also are reminded that Jesus has sent us into this same broken world to continue his mission (John 20:21-24).
Remembering is good. Jesus wanted me to remember. He commanded us to remember. We also are to remember the life Jesus led that preceded his crucifixion — the life he spent reaching out to the lost, the least, and the last people. Remembering is very good. Yet we are called to do far more than just remember. Paul also reminded us of another important principle: as we come to the table we are to restore Jesus’ presence to our world as his people, the church:
Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf(1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
Think of it. As we share the bread, those of us who share it together are formed into the living Body of Jesus. Through sharing the bread together, we are the Lord’s ongoing bodily presence in the world. As we share in that bread, a miracle happens. Yet the miracle is not in the bread, but in the participants — in us, Jesus’ people. We become him for our world today. We covenant that just as Jesus was God fully incarnate in the world in real flesh and blood, we commit to being Jesus to our world. When we take the cup, we have the blood of Jesus transfused into our bodies to renew our life that is to be given for the sake of the world this coming week. We are Jesus’ presence — his hands, his feet, his eyes, and his heart.
When we take The Supper with a commitment to restore Jesus to the world through our lives, it becomes an explosive device to church as normal. This explosive device detonates in our climate-controlled rooms, crisply performed songs, smoothly orchestrated flow, and carefully time-mapped services. This commiting to restore Jesus to the world as we gather at The Table reminds us that our lives are not about church.
At The Table, we realize that the church is here to help us live our lives for the sake of the world as Jesus did. The Supper is a reminder that if lost, rebellious, struggling, broken people aren’t at our table on Sunday, then we haven’t been living out the implications of The Supper we took the week before. That’s because when we come to The Table each week, the Lord tries to speak to the lost, rebellious, struggling, broken people of our world and say:
This is my body given for you! This is my blood shed for you! These people are my body. My blood flows through them to show my concern and to share my mission in your broken world. They will enter your brokenness as I did. They will search to find you, love you, and bring you back to my Table so that you, too, can receive the Father’s grace.
The Lord’s Supper — whether you call it The Supper, The Eucharist, or Holy Communion — is to be powerful, holy, and precious. It must be disruptive to our tidy status quo and business as usual approach to our neatly packaged church services. If it is not disruptive, there is no grace to offer the broken people on the pew near you or the person on the pew inside you.
Let the Lord’s Table be disruptive so that we can truly remember and restore Jesus to our broken world!