Sermon: Table vs. Altar

Summary:  Our attitudes and practice concerning the Lord's Supper need to reflect the intent 
of the memorial and the The Lord's Sacrifice was already accomplished

Intro:
1.  A practice misunderstood story -----
2.  Many people misunderstand what the Lord's Supper is about
3.  Review:
	a.  We have seen that the Lord's Supper is a memorial and participation
	b.  We have seen the significance of the bread
	c.  We have seen the significance of wine
4.  Now we need to see the significance of the word, "supper" 

I.  The Lord's Supper is not the Lord's Sacrifice
	A.  A casual observer might think otherwise
		-  The table looks more like an altar
	B.  It this important?  Yes
		1.  Symbols are important
			a.  If you weren't raised in liturgical church, may not think so
				- But symbols are important.  Consider:
			b.  We use unleavened bread, not bagels or cookies.  Why?
				- Not because there is something wrong with bagels
				- Because the unleavened bread is a powerful symbol
				- Symbol of the purity of Christ, and of our holiness as 
				   his body
			c.  We use fruit of the vine, not water.  Why?
				- Some called it the "blood of the grape"
				- Jesus shed his life and gives that life to us
				- He emptied his cup for us.  This a powerful symbol
			d.  We baptize by immersion in water, not sprinkle.  Why?
				- Other than obvious fact commanded to
				- Powerful symbol of death and resurrection
				- Reminds us that Jesus is cleansing us completely
		2.  What does this piece of furniture reflect?
			a.  Look at what the altar signifies
				-  Sacrifice, sins, sorrow, even fasting
				-  Do we sacrifice to gain forgiveness of sins?  
				-  No, Christ already did that
			b.  Look at what the table signifies
				-  Fellowship, joy, peace, feasting not fasting
				-  We don't sit at a table to mourn, but to fellowship
			c. Table is related to the altar
				- The table comes after the altar
				- It is AFTER the sacrifice that the fellowship meal 
				  takes place
				- Sacrifice of Christ has already taken place
		3.  For early Christians, the symbol for Lord's Supper was table
			a.  They spoke of reclining at the Triclinium, a typical Roman 
			     style dining table
			b.  In Acts, they spoke of the Lord's Supper as "breaking 
			     bread," which was the same idiom for eating a meal
		4.  Would have been like the Passover
			a.  Passover was not a sad, somber time like Yom Kippur
			b.  Time of remembrance, rejoicing, fellowship, and feasting
			c.  Christ is our Passover, and this is a meal, not sacrifice
	C.  When did the table become an altar?
		1.  In the medieval church, saw it as a reenactment of the sacrifice
		2.  Called it the sacrifice of the mass & performed it at an altar
		3.  Our altar-looking table is an echo of that architectural tradition
		4.  But it has no warrant.  
			a. John 19:30 - At the cross, Jesus said, "it is finished"
			b. Heb 9:28 - Jesus offered once to bear the sins of many
	D.  The altar concept and attitude is out of place here
		1.  Reminded of it, because the altar is what brought the table
		2.  But sacrifice was already offered once
		3.  Now we sit as a redeemed family around his table
			- Since we are his family, it reminds us thatů.

II.  The Lord's Supper is the Lord's Consecration
	A.   What is Consecration
		1.  It means to be dedicated or devoted to something or someone
		2.  Another word is sanctified or made holy
		3.  As Christians, we are now devoted and dedicated to God
	B.  How does the Lord's Supper remind us of this? (1 Cor 10:16-21)
		1.  We cannot partake of Lord's Table and demons - Holiness
			a.  There is no straddling the fence, no divided loyalties
			b.  We are completely and singly his   
			c.  We are a holy people
		2.  The inverse is also true
			a.  This meal is meant only for God's people
			b.  This is not a free for all open to pagans and unbelievers
			c.  We are called out of the world and into God's family
		3.  It is an expression of "Christian" fellowship
			a.  Sharing, hospitality, cooperating on mission efforts, 
			     suffering, and the Lord's Supper expression of fellowship
			b.  It is impossible to have "in Christ" fellowship with those 
			     who are unbelievers
				- (2 Cor 6:14-18) - Come out and be separate
				- (Gal 6) - Do good to all men, especially to those of 
				   household of faith
			c. In Christ fellowship = preferential treatment to family of 
			    God
		4.  Early Christians practiced "closed communion"
			a.  This practice caused problems and rumors for them
				- Some accused them of cannibalism
				- Didn't deter them from closed communion
			b.  Elders presided over communion as early as 2nd century
				- Elders knew who believers were, and who were not
				- They didn't invite unbelievers to commune with them
			c.  Might have been more socially acceptable to make it 
			     public, but they didn't
			d.  Closed communion was the practice up until recent times
	C.  How do congregations do this today?
		1.  Some have members approach the table
		2.  Some announce that this is for Christians only
	D.  Need to recognize that the Lord's Table is an exclusive place
		1.  This is not like feeding the poor, ministry, and such
			- We help those who are in need, Christian or not
		2.  Yes, God wants all to be saved through the Gospel
			a.  We are not exclusive about who we teach the Gospel to
			b.  God wants all people to repent
		3.  But the Lord's Supper is a family meal, not a public meal
			a.  This is not a meal to feed the hungry
			b.  This is a remembrance and participation for those whom 
			      he has redeemed
		4.  Can't pretend to have in Christ fellowship with those not in Christ
			- This in Christ fellowship reminds us thatů.

III.  The Lord's Supper is Lord's Communion (1 Cor 10:16-18)
	A.  Sometimes we call it communion, and it comes from this passage
		1.  It is a "sharing" "fellowship" or "communion" in Christ
		2.  The word is koinonia, which means sharing in common
		3.  We have Christ's salvation through his blood in common
	B.  This is an expression of our fellowship together in Christ
		1.  We who are many are one body and all partake of one bread
		2.  There is a lot about the "body" in this way in Corinthians
			b.  12:1ff - All about how the body is connected
			c.  13:1ff - Love for each other in the body
			d  14:1ff - Edifying the body when you come together
		3.   (11: ) - What does it mean to "discern" the body rightly?
			a.  Have consideration for each other as family
			b.  Wait for each other when you come together to eat
				- Why?  It is not an individual act
				- It is an expression of our fellowship together
			c.  God didn't just redeem individuals
				- 1 Cor 12 - Body is not bunch of individuals
			d.  (Matt 5:24) - If coming to offer worship, brother something against you, 
			     first go and be reconciled, then worship
		4. There is no "individualistic" religion in scripture
			a.  It is always in the context of a people
			b.  Find words like family/household, assembly/church, body, 
			c.  Lord's Supper is a family affair
	C.  ILL:  Went home to Mom and Dad's
		1.  Sat down at dinner table.
		2.  At first I didn't eat, don't set a place for me
		3.  She did anyway, and insisted I eat SOMETHING
		4.  Awkward if I sit and watch everyone else eat
		5.  She wanted me to participate in dinner
		6.  Same is true for Lord's Supper - Family Affair
		7.  An expression of our fellowship in Christ when we ALL as a body partake of the one bread
	D.  We do this as a family
		1.  Refocus on communion with Christ AND each other
		2.  Implication:  Sunday evening communion



Concl:
1.  Lord's Supper is not a Sacrifice or Funeral
2.  I like image of the 23rd Psalm
			a.  The Lord prepares a lavish table, cup overflows
			b.  Head anointed with oil - honored guest
			c.  Goodness and mercy "pursues" us all our lives
			d.  Not a sacrifice, but a table
3.  As God's family, we sit together around his table
	remember, celebrate,