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Sermon and Liturgy For The Celebration of Communion
John 6:48-58 and I Corinthians 11:23-29
"Whoever Eats My Flesh"

READING:  John 6:48-58 and I Corinthians 11:23-29
SERMON :  "Whoever Eats My Flesh"

b-or02su 865000
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild

   We have frequent requests for sermons about Communion.  The
   following is a cohesive service for the celebration of, and teaching
   about, the meaning and significance of The Lord's Supper".  This
   means the children's story, the hymns, and the prayers focus on this
   Sacrament.  There is some "United Church of Canada" specific
   material within the sermon - namely quotes from our "Articles of
   Faith" but this should not prove difficult for those in traditional
   protestant communities since similar quotes can be found in their
   confessions, faith statements and catechisms.  The actual
   Eucharistic prayers are a traditional form - with the preface being
   adapted from that of Nathan Nettleton "Eucharistic Preface" as sent
   to the PRCL List Server  on January 11 2000.   

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  God is with his people.  He dwells in their midst. 
   Listen and hear him speak.
P  Our hearts long for his word.  
      We wait upon the Lord so that we may renew our strength.
L  God is our help and our support.  
      His spirit moves among us to lead us in holiness 
      and in righteousness all our days.
P  With joyful hearts we sing God's praise.  
      With rejoicing we call upon Him.  
      The Lord is our hope and our salvation.

* INTROIT: "This Is The Day"  (VU 412, verses 1)

Let Us Pray: Loving and creative God - most holy and wise Lord - we open
ourselves to receive your life-giving Spirit, to hear your guiding word,
and to see your signs and feel your touch in our midst.  Forgive O God,
those things which we have done or failed to do which have hindered our
communion with you and with our brothers and sisters.  Forgive us and bless
us that we might be blessing to you and to your world.  Come, Lord, and
make us new.  We ask it through Christ Jesus our Lord, he who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, both now and forevermore.

- Announcements
- Birthdays This Week
- Gathering in of Prayer Joys and Concerns

* HYMN   "We Gather Here"                                          - VU 469

CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Eating Together"
Theme     Family Made Stronger At The Table
Object    The Table of The Lord
Source    Self

Good morning.  I want to talk to you today about eating.
Who here likes to eat?
What kinds of food do you especially like??

Eating is a very important thing - it helps to keep us alive.  Without food
- we die.  But how we eat - and who we eat with is also an important thing
- it can bring us great joy, it can make our lives richer and fuller.

Can you think of special times - of special meals you have had?
Who was there with you?

In our home the best meals are the ones where our whole family is gathered. 
Times like Christmas and Thanksgiving when the whole family gathers and we
can spend time with one another.  Times when friends have come to eat with
us.  Times when visitors and strangers have sat down with us to eat.

In Halifax where I used to live, during the last World War, people used to
invite Sailors and Soldiers who were separated from their families for
months, even years at time to dinner.   It was very good for them - it made
them feel loved - it helped them remember how much goodness there is in the

During the great depression it was the same.  Men travelled on the trains
looking for work where-ever they could find it - and often families would
go down to the railway yards and invite them to have a meal with them - to
have a taste not only of the food they needed to eat to live - but of the
love of God.

Meals are things that are best shared.  When we share our table with others
- when we eat together with friends and those whom we barely know - we not
only nourish our bodies - we nourish our souls.

Today in our church, we eat together a special meal that we call the Lord's
Supper.  We have bread and wine as one family.  We have it with Christ
Jesus and with one another.  It draws us closer together to him and to his
family around the world.  It reminds us of his love.  So, like the meals we
have with our families, the bread and the wine nourish us  not only in
body, but in soul.  Jesus told us to always remember when him when we eat
together - he commanded us to have to have this special meal with one

We believe that Jesus is specially present with us in the bread and the
wine - that it is his body and his blood - that he gave for us so that we
might have our sins forgiven and join him in heaven when we die. 

   Let us Pray:    Lord Jesus - we love you  -- We thank you for how
   you bring us together - for how you make us one family - for how you
   feed our bodies with the bread of earth  - and our souls with the
   bread of heaven.   Help us to remember your love - whenever we eat  
   and to share your love - whenever we sit down at table together. 

* HYMN:  "All Who Hunger"                                          - VU 460

   (NIV) I am the bread of life. {49} Your forefathers ate the manna in
   the desert, yet they died. {50} But here is the bread that comes
   down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. {51} I am the
   living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this
   bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will
   give for the life of the world." {52} Then the Jews began to argue
   sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to
   eat?" {53} Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat
   the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in
   you. {54} Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal
   life, and I will raise him up at the last day. {55} For my flesh is
   real food and my blood is real drink. {56} Whoever eats my flesh and
   drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. {57} Just as the living
   Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who
   feeds on me will live because of me. {58} This is the bread that
   came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he
   who feeds on this bread will live forever."

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord.
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

CHOIR ANTHEM: Amazing Grace

      (NIV)  For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you:
   The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, {24} 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." {25} 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." {26} For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you
   proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. {27} Therefore, whoever
   eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
   will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
   {28} A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and
   drinks of the cup. {29} For anyone who eats and drinks without
   recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on

L  This is the Word of The Lord.     
P  Thanks be to God.

* HYMN:  "Here, O My Lord, I See You" (verse 1-3)                  - VU 459

SERMON:  "Whoever Eats My Flesh"

   Let us Pray - Creator and maker of us all - bless the words of my
   lips and the meditations of our hearts - grow thou in us and show us
   your ways and inspire us to live by your truth.  Amen

The Hymn we just sang, one of the old communion hymns of our tradition,
speaks of seeing here, at this table, in this place, 
the Lord Jesus.

It speaks of communion as a touching and handling things unseen
of grasping with firmer hand eternal grace,
of this table being a heavenly banquet spread for us
of our eating together as being a  fellowship of living wine and bread.

It is a holy mystery that we participate in today.
   Christ is not only in this sanctuary - where we as his people gather,
he is not only a guest at this his table,
   he is in the bread and the wine that we bless 
   and then take and eat and drink.
The table that is spread for us today is more than a memorial meal, 
it is a life giving meal,
a meal that, in Jesus' own words, causes us to remain in him, and he in us.

   "I tell you the truth," said Jesus, "that unless you eat the flesh
   of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. {54}
   Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I
   will raise him up at the last day. {55} For my flesh is real food
   and my blood is real drink. {56} Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my
   blood remains in me, and I in him."

The table of the Lord spread before us today is a holy mystery 
- a mystery that we are called to take part in;.
- a mystery that gives us life.

In the Basis of Union which is the foundational document of the United
Church of Canada, there are twenty articles of faith which the founding
members of our denomination agreed summarized our faith.

I quoted last week, from article fifteen where it tells us that Christ
calls us to be part of his church 
- part of the visible and sacred brotherhood he established 
and where we, as one body in him, have communion with him and one another. 

I also quoted from article sixteen on the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

That Article goes on from speaking about Baptism to say this about the
Lord's Supper:

   The Lord's Supper is the sacrament of communion with Christ and with
   His people, in which bread and wine are given and received in
   thankful remembrance of Him and His sacrifice on the Cross; and they
   who in faith receive the same do, after a spiritual manner, partake
   of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to their comfort,
   nourishment, and growth in grace.

It has ever been the teaching of the church that the Lord's Supper is not
only a participation in the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ - a
communion with him - but also a communion with the church that Christ died
to save - a communion with the saints - both those present with us today
and those who have gone before us to God's heavenly kingdom.

In today's epistle reading, where the very first written account of the
Lord's Supper is recorded, Paul calls us all to discern this communion with
Christ and with one another when he writes:

   Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in
   an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and
   blood of the Lord. {28} A man ought to examine himself before he
   eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. {29} For anyone who eats
   and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks
   judgment on himself.

Truly these are words that should give us pause - words that should cause
us to reflect on what it is we do
when we come to the table of the Lord.

In the church at Corinth to which Paul wrote these words there were
divisions among the people. There were unresolved issues - and this was
reflected in how people ate together 
how they shared the bread and the wine - 
how they shared in and participated in the body and blood of Christ.

Some came to the table - and ate and drank great amounts - so much so that
some became drunk,
while others found at the table little or nothing for their physical and
spiritual nourishment.

In Corinth there was little consideration for the meaning of the sacrament
- it was treated as being simply food to eat and wine to drink 
and there was little consideration for those who might come to the table
with you,
- in fact some came early and went ahead and ate and drank before others
could join them.

In my father-in-laws house - when a family meal was being held, this kind
of behaviour was called eating for eating's sake - and it evoked, and still
evokes, a  strong - and rather forceful  reaction from him.

In his home, those who are present are expected to eat together, not in
shifts, so that one can watch TV and another  read or talk on the phone,
and still another run around serving folk without actually being able to
sit with them.

And in eating together those at the table are expected to come closer
together through their conversation with one another and through the
attitudes of their hearts. 

There is no place at the table of my Father-in-law
nor is there a place at the table of the Lord
for disputes and arguments 
- these are to be settled and peace to be made before dining together.

Every meal is meant to be shared and enjoyed by all.  
Every meal is meant to nourish one in both body and in soul.
Every meal is meant to be a time when God is blessed and thanked 
and where the family draws together.

Today we are called to discern the body of Christ in the Sacrament we
- we are called to receive the life that is found in the body which is
broken for us 
   and in the blood that is poured out for us - 
and to share that life with one another and all who gone before us.
We are called to communion - to peace - to intimacy - with God and with our
brothers and sisters in the Lord..

Paul writes in the 10th chapter of First Corinthians concerning the Lord's

   I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. {16} 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? {17} Because there is one loaf,
   we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

We are one.  The body we eat, the blood we drink, makes us one.  
The Lord Jesus died so that we might be one,
one with him and the Father and the Spirit
and one with each other.

The Lord's Supper, my brothers and sisters  is not just a symbolic meal 
   - though it is full of symbols
it is not just a memorial meal
   - though in it we recall Christ's death till he comes again.
It is a sacrament of the Lord - one that conveys his grace and love to us.
It is a participation in the body and blood of Christ
a communion with God and with one another.

May you discern today the body which you eat
and the body to which you belong.  Amen

Let us pray....
Gracious God as we prepare today to receive the body and the blood of our
Lord Jesus Christ, help us to discern the mystery of this most Holy
Sacrament.  Unite us ever more deeply with Christ's suffering that we may
also be united ever more deeply with him in his resurrection power.  Draw
us closer to him and to each other in the fullness of his grace and
love....  Lord, hear our prayer....

Lord, your table is set for us so that we might remember your death until
you come again and so that we might be nourished and comforted and grow in
grace.  Grant that as we receive  your most precious body and blood that we
might indeed be strengthened in our faith and that your people might be one
as you and the Father and the Spirit are one...   Lord, hear our prayer....

Merciful and forgiving Lord, we pray today for those who struggle to
forgive the sins of others, but who cannot.  Help them to know the fullness
of how you have forgiven them and in that knowledge to be likewise
forgiving.  Indeed, O Lord, we ourselves now offer up to you any of the
pain and the resentment and the anger that we may have because of the
actions of others towards us....  Lord hear our prayer....

We pray, O Lord,  for those of us and of the larger community who suffer in
body or in soul, those in need of the bread of earth as well those in need
of the bread of heaven.  We remember before you 

- intercessions as shared - 

We thank you, O Lord, for taking our burdens upon yourself and for giving
to us your yoke and your burden.  Help us to walk with you and with one
another in peace and in love, both now, and forevermore.  Amen.

* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of

   Lord, as we share at this moment a portion of what we have received,
   help us open our lives to you and to all to whom you send us.  Make
   us and all that we do and say a blessing to the world so that these
   offerings may be made holy and complete by our obedience to your
   will.  We ask it in the name  of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord and
   Saviour.  Amen

* SHARING THE PEACE:  We greet those around us with a sign of peace  and
words like "The peace of the Lord be with you".  This ancient tradition is
an appropriate response to the peace that God gives to those who hear and
do his word.

* COMMUNION HYMN:  "Let Us Break Bread Together"                   - VU 480

L  The peace of the Lord be with you.
P  And also with you.
L  Lift up your hearts.
P  We lift them up to the Lord.
L  Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P  It is right to give him thanks and praise.

L  Father, all powerful and ever-living God, we well always and everywhere
   to you give you thanks and praise through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Out
   of love for sinners he humbled himself and become one of us.  Born of
   Mary, he spent his days among us, laughing as we laugh, weeping as we
   weep.  At the Jordan your Spirit descended upon him, anointing him to
   preach the good news of your kingdom.  Anointed with the Holy Spirit
   and with power, he went among his people feeding the hungry, giving
   sight to the blind, curing the lame, and  healing all who were under
   the power of the devil. Finally, in fulfilment of your will,  he
   suffered death upon the cross to free us from unending death. 
   Therefore with all the saints and with the angels in heaven we praise
   you , saying:
P  Holy, holy, holy, Lord,
   God of power and might,
   Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
   Hosanna in the highest.
   Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,
   Hosanna in the highest.

L  Blessed indeed, Father, is the one who comes in your name.  Blessed is
   your son, Christ Jesus, and blessed are they who believe in him and
   call on his name. 
P  Dying he destroyed our death, rising he restored our life. 
L  Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, he took
   bread and gave you thanks.  He broke the bread, gave it to his
   disciples, and said: "Take this, all of you, and eat.  This is my body
   which will be given up for you."  When the supper was ended, he took
   the cup.  Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his
   disciples, and said: "Take this, all of you, and drink from it.  This
   is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. 
   It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.  Do
   this in memory of me."
P  When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord
   Jesus, until you come in glory.
L  Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:
P  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

L  Loving God, we pray thee to send thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon this
   bread and this cup that they may be for us the body and the blood of
   your Son, Christ Jesus our Lord. Give us, as we eat and drink, the mind
   of Christ and help us to follow his example as we await his return in
   glory.  We ask it in his name, praying together as he taught us,
P  Our Father...  
   The Breaking of Bread and The Distribution of The Elements  (We receive the
   body and the blood of our Lord today in the traditional manner of our
   Presbyterian heritage.  The bread and wine will be brought to us where
   we sit.  As you serve the elements to your neighbour say "the
   body/blood of Christ broken/shed for you" and as you receive say 
   "Amen" or "And also for you".  We will eat and drink at the same time. 
   As we wait for the time of eating and drinking the choir and all who
   desire will sing "Eat This Bread" VU 466)

   "Eat this bread, drink this cup; come to me and never be hungry.  
   Eat this bread, drink this cup; trust in me and you will not thirst."

Departing Prayer
L  Let us pray:
P  Lord, you have nourished us with the bread from heaven.
   We thank you and we bless your most holy name.
   Fill us with your Spirit day by day,
   and make us one in peace and love.  Amen

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "O Jesus, Joy of Loving Hearts"                    - 472

* COMMISSIONING (Unison): In the power of the Holy Spirit we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of

Go in peace; love and care for one another in the name of Christ;
and may the blessing of our crucified Redeemer be with you,
may his resurrection power settle upon you and transform your days
may his eternal love enlighten your souls and bring you at last to the
fulness of his everlasting glory.

* THREE FOLD AMEN & CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"            - VU 964

copyright	- Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2000 - 2006
		use only with proper acknowledgement

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