I can’t believe this is our final service at Coral. After a three month search and many meetings with various pastors and leaders in the area, we are finally moving to our new location in Old Town Pasadena. Friendship Baptist Church has graciously opened their doors to share their building with us. They pretty much told us last week that we can use the building whenever we want and the rent they are charging us is ridiculously low.
I am really excited, not just because we are upgrading our worship location, but because of the potential partnership in the gospel with the Friendship family. I have a good feeling about the pastor there. Pastor Lucious grew up in that church since he was 8 years old. There is a picture hanging at the church when Pastor Lucious was a young boy and he is praying with his father and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK preached there twice so Friendship is a historic landmark, which is kind of cool. We will be walking on holy ground.
It’s impressive to me that someone who grew up in the church from his youth is now the pastor. That tells me something about the pastor as well as the congregation. It’s easier to just apply for a job and walk in to a brand new church because for the first few years, everyone loves you because you are just getting to know one another. It’s like marriage. You are so excited at first. Then, a few years pass, and you say, okay, he or she is not perfect, but I guess I am stuck. The same thing happens in church. You are so happy with the pastor in the beginning. He can do no wrong. Then, a few years pass, and the newness wears off. You get bored of the messages. Things about the pastor begin to bother you. You are no longer so excited about the pastor and you begin to wonder, maybe it’s time for a divorce. It’s time to go church hopping.
It’s no surprise that even Jesus received no honor from his hometown. We are talking about Jesus. But those who grew up with Jesus, they saw him in diapers and so when Jesus turned thirty years old, he is preaching and he is calling himself the Son of God. And they must have muttered among themselves. Who does this guy think he is? I know him. I know his parents and they are not saints.
There are members at Friendship Baptist in their nineties who knew Pastor Lucious when he was a young kid. Then 40+ years later, they can call him pastor. That tells me a lot about that church. So I am excited at what God will do at our church as we begin a new partnership in the gospel.
Since this is a Sunday of transition, I want to begin by saying thank you to each of the founding members of this church. Thank you for just being here. When your church is small and just starting out, just showing up is huge. You certainly didn’t come because we had fancy programs or for the families driving from Irvine, you certainly didn’t come here out of convenience. You came simply because you loved God and you loved this church.
We gathered as a faith family for the first time in Sept 2007 at Crossroads on Villa St. About 4.5 years ago. Can you raise your hands if you were part of that worship service?
1) Pastor John and Sister Paula, 2) Brother Eric and Sister Jeehee, 3) Brother John U and Sister Grace, 4) Brother Jae and Sister Hannah, 5) Brother Mathew and Sister Minjeong, 6) Brother Daniel and Sister Sora, and Sister Minjoo, Sister Minjin, Brother John Shen, and to the handful of Caltech students who gathered that first Sunday, I thank you for your heart of service. Thank you for all the visible and invisible labors of love that you gave to build up this body of Christ. Thank you all for sticking with God and sticking with this church.
I’m not a very good singer but I led praise that Sunday, I think. Didn’t I? Or I might have been doing the slides in the back. Doing slides was fun. I think I want my old job back.
In a moment, we’ll be coming to the table. We normally observe the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of the odd months, but because next week is the first service at our new location, it seemed to make more sense to observe it today.
I am not sure if you are aware that we are in Lent season, the 40 day period before Easter. Easter is fast approaching. It’s on April 8th this year. Sister Sarah aka Sarai from Caltech told me at prayer meeting on Thursday that for Lent this year, she is giving up Jeremy Lin. That would be very difficult for some of the brothers here. For Lent, I think I am going to give up preaching.
Lent is a time of self-examination and prayer so I spend a few minutes doing that this afternoon.
Before we read the standard text, 1 Cor 11, please turn with me to Romans 12:1.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
This is one thing that we are reminded of when we partake in communion. In view of his mercy. In view of the cross. In view of Jesus spilling his blood to save us. This mercy of God in Christ is what ushers us into the life of the Spirit. Salvation. We talk about this all the time.
Yet, that is not enough. Why is it that many Christians are saved but they don’t grow? They are just content with being saved. They have their ticket to heaven, but that’s it. Why? It’s because there is another perspective that they are lacking.
We touched on this last time we did communion. In 1 Cor 11:26, it reads–
1 Cor 11
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. In view of Jesus’ return. That’s the second perspective. If you have ever worked, what happens when the boss is on vacation? Everyone relaxes, right? Everyone is a bit slower getting things done. But the day before the boss returns, people get nervous and they try to get all the assignments completed and tasks checked off because you want to be ready when the boss returns.
The same principle applies in the Christian life. In view of Jesus’ return, that perspective gives Christians a sense of urgency. Jesus is coming back. I got to get my act together. I got to start living for him. There’s no time for excuses. Because he could come back any moment. Or if Jesus doesn’t return in my lifetime, my days are numbered. I can’t guarantee tomorrow. Time is short. Either way, I am going to see Jesus.
Do you long for Jesus? Do you long for his return?
We all long for something. We long for the latest iPad, the latest movie, you long for a vacation. All of those deliver in the moment, but the satisfaction quickly wears off. For singles, you long to be married. Understandably.
But even the greatest day of your life, your wedding day where all of your feelings of love for the other are at its peak, the Bible says, even the wedding day is a shabby imitation of the glory and joy and intimacy that awaits when we flop into the arms of our Savior and Lord on that day.
Do you long for Jesus? I think your longing is directly connected to your living. If you are living wholeheartedly for Jesus, if you are banking everything on Christ, if your life is being poured out like a drink offering, you WILL long for Jesus. Guaranteed. Because people who live sold out for Jesus will experience hardship, persecution, suffering, hatred, rejection, spiritual attack. You will experience many mini-deaths. You will have to deny yourself and carry a cross, like Jesus did.
Examine yourself. Are you living sold out for Jesus? Or are you holding out for something else or somebody else? Or are you making excuses why you cannot live passionately for Christ?
In view of his mercy and in view of his return, these are two perspectives that come to the fore in the Lord’s Supper.
We have 7 elders at this church and I am going to ask a couple of them to come forward and stand facing the congregation. So as you come forward, the 3 of us, as representatives of the leadership of this church, we are going to pray for you silently because it is our commitment to serve you and to lead this church primarily through the preaching of the Word and through prayer.
We are going to ask you to come forward twice. First, I will invite you to come forward to take the bread and you are free to take it whenever you are finished praying on your own. This is to stress the individual aspect of the Lord’s Supper. Second, I will ask you to come forward again to take the cup and this time, I ask that you wait until everyone has been served and we will take the cup altogether. This is to stress the corporate aspect of the Lord’s Supper.
But before you come forward for the bread, Paul instructs us in v28 in this way.
1 Cor 11
28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
How should we examine ourselves? To do this, I think we need to place v28 in the context of this entire chapter. The Lord’s Supper has vertical and horizontal, or individual and corporate implications. Examine your relationship with Christ, what sins do you have to repent of before the Lord? If you know you are committing blatant sin and you are unrepentant, then for your sake, I would ask you to refrain from partaking in the Lord’s Supper. That’s between you and God. No one else can see what is going on in your heart. This is a time to re-evaluate your individual relationship with God.
In addition, we must also examine our relationships with one another, what sins do we need to confess before our brothers and sisters in Christ? If you are haboring unforgiveness toward another, I ask you to refrain from partaking in communion.
Refrain because of personal sin, refrain because of relational sin, and lastly, I would ask non-Christians to refrain because this ordinance has no meaning for you.
Let me read starting from the second half of v23 —
1 Cor 11
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.”
Let’s spend some time in prayer – about 1-2 minutes. When you have finished praying, come forward and take the bread back to your seat. And when you are ready, please take it individually as a symbol of Christ’s forgiveness given to you personally. To avoid congestion in the front, I ask that people come up using the center aisle and then return to their seats around to the sides.
If you haven’t come forward to take the bread already, please come forward now because we will be moving on to the cup soon. [TAKE BREAD]
Now is the time we invite you to come forward for the cup. This time, I ask everyone to take the cup and wait at their seat until everyone has been served. Then, as a symbol of our corporate unity, we will take it together so please hold on to the cup and wait for everyone to be served.
Please come forward. [TAKE CUP]
1 Cor 11
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.”
You may take the cup. Closing prayer.