Originally scheduled for August 9
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim
the Lord's death until He comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:26 NASB)
When we think of the word “proclamation” we usually bring up an
image of a town crier from the 18th century ringing a
bell and yelling, “Hear ye, hear ye…” Here we are told that when we
take communion we are making a proclamation.
The town crier is not a bad picture of that. Proclamation is not
something you do by accident, or that somebody just happens to
notice. It is a deliberate, intentional and active event. We are not
just showing something, but actively attempting to make it clear
what we have to say. Naturally, in such circumstances, what we do is
done publicly. It is not done in a hidden manner, but in such a
manner that people will be prompted to ask, “what’s that all about?”
It also carries with it the implication that what I am proclaiming
is something that I believe. I’m not just an advertising spokesman,
but one who genuinely believes what he is proclaiming and invites
question. It is a fine thing if someone sees us taking communion and
asks, “what are you doing?” That opens the door for Christ.
Just what is it that we proclaim?
The most obvious point is that we proclaim his death. It often
surprises Christians that we don’t use communion as a method of
proclaiming his resurrection, which is of course implicit in that.
But we proclaim his death; first of all, the physical fact that it
happened. More than that we proclaim his death as the atonement for
sins. We are forgiven because he paid the price.
Perhaps it’s not as obvious, but we also proclaim his humanity.
Jesus was not just God walking the earth, but a human being like the
rest of us. He knows what it is to be irritated, hungry, cold or in
pain. He knows how we feel.
Maybe you didn’t think of it this way, but it’s not just that “we
are forgiven.” It’s that I, personally, have been redeemed by the
blood of the Lamb, shed at Calvary on the cross. And if I proclaim
my personal salvation, then I can assure you that you can have it
Note, please, that there is a time limit for this proclamation:
“until He comes.” This too carries consequences.
First, and perhaps most obvious, is that Christ will return to judge
the living and the dead. Your relationship with him determines
whether or not you will line up with those seeking his mercy or
those to be judged outside of it.
That, of course, carries with it the idea that there is a time limit
during which grace is available. Some people seem to think that God
will wait for eternity for the human race to get its act together.
It may seem like eternity, but he tells us it has an end. And at
that end, there is the Judgment.
Finally, that time limit also means that those who celebrate
communion — the church — will be there when he comes. These are the
ones who will welcome him joyfully, having anticipated his arrival
for so many years. For those who partake, this will be a wonderful,
joyous event. For those who do not,… Judgment.
So as you take this cup and eat this bread, do so with the full
knowledge of what you are proclaiming to the world as you do it.
This is the message of the church in one simple ceremony. It is up
to us to spread the word.