Christmas, Communion, and the Second Coming

This time of year we celebrate the coming of the Son of God into the world. For most of us, Advent season conjures up images of manger scenes, shepherds in the field, and magi with their gifts. All of these are important parts of the biblical story of the birth of Jesus (even if our imagining of them sometimes goes far afield of the actual events!).

But “advent,” which is derived from the Latin word meaning “coming” or “arrival,” points to more than the incarnation. We celebrate the first (past) coming of Jesus and the second (future) coming of the Son of God in Advent season. We are a people who belong to a Kingdom that has come and is yet to come because we serve a King who has come and is yet to come. In his first coming the Son of God took on flesh, lived a sinless life, died an atoning death, and rose in victory over the grave. In his second coming he will return physically, finally and fully free his people from the power of sin, raise the dead to everlasting life, and bring in the new heaven and earth.

Our worship reflects the reality that we live between these two great events. We look back and celebrate Christ’s life, death and resurrection. We rejoice in the sin-conquering, wrath-bearing death of Jesus and we marvel at his victory over death in his resurrection. His work is a completed work. A work done “once for all.”

We also look forward in anticipation of his victorious return. We long to experience the freedom from disease and death that he promises. We are grateful for the reality that all that is wrong in this world will be set right by our righteous King.

One of the most visible, concrete expressions of this backward- and forward-looking worship that God has given to us is Communion. In the Lord’s Supper we remember the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus. And we are commanded to “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” That is, until the day when we take our seat at the great wedding feast of the Lamb of God, we take our seat at Lord’s Table in celebration of his first coming while eagerly awaiting his return.

This Sunday we will participate in Communion together as a church during worship. We have regularly celebrated the Lord’s Supper once a month as part of our members’ meetings since we started the church, but this will be the first time we have incorporated it into our Sunday morning worship service. We’ll continue to have Communion in our members’ meetings, but we also want to be able to join this unique, God-given form of worship with our time in the Word and celebration through music. I urge you to prepare your hearts for worship. Examine yourself, repent of sin, meditate on the work of Christ, and come prepared to celebrate the coming of our Lord… both them!