“A Time for a New Beginning”

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

MARCH 10, 2019

Title: “A Time for a New Beginning.”

Text: “And when he had taken some bread and given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20. And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20).

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:19-27.

Of the many things that the Lord’s Supper is, it is a time for beginning again.  It can be to the Christian life what a mid-course correction is to a spaceship.

Imagine that it was possible to make a direct shot to the moon without orbiting the earth.  Imagine also that there were no opportunity for an inflight correction. If, in the launching, the calculations were off just one degree, that space vehicle would miss the moon by almost 1.5 million miles!  We can begin to understand the importance of a mid-course correction in space travel. To drift off course in our spiritual lives, the Lord’s Supper can be an opportunity for us to make a mid-course correction and get back on track.  The Lord’s Supper is all of the following.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for a fresh dedication.

It is a fresh dedication to the will of God.  Perhaps some little sin has crept into your life and is causing you to drift off course from God’s will.  You may be only a fraction of a degree from dead center, but the farther you go with the miscalculation, the wider is the ever-increasing distance by which you will miss God’s will for your life.  The observance of this supper can be that time of in-flight correction that gets you back on course.

Jesus was always in the center of the Father’s will, but he used the occasion of the Last Supper to reaffirm his dedication to that will.  “This cup is…my blood, which is shed for you… and truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined” (Luke 22:20, 22).

The Lord’s Supper is also a time for fresh dedication to the task of witnessing.  The disciples were about to face the most strenuous period in their ministry. Christ chose to the supper as the climatic moment of his ministry before the cross to impart to them new determination for the trials ahead.

Perhaps someone is here at the very beginning of a spiritual journey. Trying to find your way with God is such an overwhelming task, it’s quite possible you might not know where to start. There’s so much to learn, so many steps of faith to take, so many things to do. Maybe you’ve seen someone in your family, or your circle of friends, or even in this church, who seems to be miles and miles ahead of you in a spiritual walk. Perhaps the whole idea of comfort and hope seems impossible, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.

In 1847, a boy named Homan Walsh went out to fly a kite. Homan was taking part in a kite-flying contest, so he brought his best kite, and plenty of string.

He stood on the Canadian bank of the Niagara River, letting more and more of that string go out, and his little-boy’s kite kept going higher, and higher, and higher … until it stretched nearly 1,000 feet. When a stranger on the American side of the Niagara Gorge grabbed Homan’s string, the crowd that had gathered let up a mighty roar. For the first time in history, people on opposite sides of this great gorge were holding onto the same string. And Homan won $5, the top prize in the contest.

There was much more than $5 at stake, however. In short order, the string was tied to a tree on the American shoreline, and a light cord tied to the Canadian end of the string. The cord was then pulled across the 800-foot span. A rope was tied to the cord, and pulled safely across. To the rope was attached a wire cable, and to the cable, a thicker cable attached. It was the beginning of an engineering victory over one of the greatest natural barriers that had separated Americans and Canadians.

Fifty-foot towers were built on each side of the river, and more cables became a part of the picture. In time, people rode across the river in buckets, for $1 each, and then they walked on a foot bridge for a quarter. But less than a year after Homan’s kite first flew across the river, people were safely riding their horse-drawn carriages across the Niagara, on a marvelous suspension bridge that hung 220 feet over the rushing water.

Eventually, there were 15 bridges that spanned the Niagara, six of which are in use today. The thousands of passengers that travel across the multi-lane, high-speed bridges today think nothing of the bridge, some of them so familiar with the path, they barely glance at the scenic view. More than likely, it has never occurred to most of those on the great bridges today that somewhere in the past, just to get this modern-day miracle under way, somebody had to fly a kite.

If great bridges can get their start with a boy’s kite and string, then I’ll tell you that great spiritual experiences can get their start with amazingly simple decisions.

The Lord’s Supper is one of the world’s simplest meals. From one vantage point, it might not seem much more significant than a boy flying a kite. It might seem little more than a string of a connection between you and God. My offer to you today is … make that connection. From the smallest beginnings can come great bridges of faith.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for self-examination.

Speaking about the Lord’s Supper in his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (! Corinthians 11:28 NIV).

Paul’s emphasis surely must have been on the words “themselves.”  We do not come to this hour to sit in judgment on others. We are not here to examine the lives of our fellow believers.  To partake of this supper in such a manner would be to eat and drink “unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:29).

A self-examination admits sin, whatever it may be and where it may be in our lives.  It is simply to be honest about ourselves before God.

Simon Peter’s failure to make such a self-examination may well explain his claim. “I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33) I do not think he was hypocritical, nor was he deliberately telling a falsehood.  He simply failed to see himself as he really was, and a humiliating denial of Christ followed.

We may save ourselves many spiritual defeats if we will pause and examine ourselves.  Self examination should result in turning from our sin. We can accept the encouraging promise that “whosoever confessed and forsaketh (his sins) shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

The Lord’s Supper is a time for meditation on Christ’s death.

One of the main purposes of this ordinance is to meditate on Christ’s death.  Paul continuing to talk about the significance of the Lord’s Supper wrote in First Corinthians 11:26 NIV., “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Could it be that the reason we do not feel any greater obligation to Christ is that we seldom really meditate on his death? Looking on the broken and bruised body of Christ on the cross will have a sovereign influence on our lives.

It is a time for humility.  We will never admit our need to begin again as long as we are filled with pride.  Only the humble will say, “I am wrong: I have sinned. Forgive me, Lord and let me begin again.”

How soon the disciples returned to pride and littleness after the high hour of the Lord’s Supper! Luke 22:24-27 relates the strife that arose because these grown men, like little children, were arguing over “which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24).  This would be unbelievable if it were not such a common occurrence within the church today.

Christ reminded his disciples that the lost world, “the Gentiles,” were filled with such pride, but that as believers they were to emulate his humility of self-giving, which had just been dramatized through through the Last Supper.  

Would you like to stop right where you are and start all over again? If so, you have come to the right place at the right time, for the observance of the Lord’s Supper is a ime for fresh dedication, self-examination, meditation on the death of Christ, and humility.  If you would begin again, simply bow your head and tell the Lord that this is what you want to do.

SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

MARCH 10, 2019

Title: “A Time for a New Beginning.”

Text: “And when he had taken some bread and given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20. And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20).

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:19-27.

Of the many things that the Lord’s Supper is, it is a time for beginning again.  It can be to the Christian life what a midcourse correction is to a spaceship.

Imagine that it was possible to make a direct shot to the moon without orbiting the earth.  Imagine also that there were no opportunity for an inflight correction. If, in the launching, the calculations were off just one degree, that space vehicle would miss the moon by almost 1.5 million miles!  We can begin to understand the importance of a midcourse correction in space travel. To drift off course in our spiritual lives, the Lord’s Supper can be an opportunity for us to make a midcourse correction and get back on track.  The Lord’s Supper is all of the following.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for a fresh dedication.

It is a fresh dedication to the will of God.  Perhaps some little sin has crept into your life and is causing you to drift off course from God’s will.  You may be only a fraction of a degree from dead center, but the farther you go with the miscalculation, the wider is the ever-increasing distance by which you will miss God’s will for your life.  The observance of this supper can be that time of in-flight correction that gets you back on course.

Jesus was always in the center of the Father’s will, but he used the occasion of the Last Supper to reaffirm his dedication to that will.  “This cup is…my blood, which is shed for you… and truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined” (Luke 22:20, 22).

The Lord’s Supper is also a time for fresh dedication to the task of witnessing.  The disciples were about to face the most strenuous period in their ministry. Christ chose to the supper as the climatic moment of his ministry before the cross to impart to them new determination for the trials ahead.

Perhaps someone is here at the very beginning of a spiritual journey. Trying to find your way with God is such an overwhelming task, it’s quite possible you might not know where to start. There’s so much to learn, so many steps of faith to take, so many things to do. Maybe you’ve seen someone in your family, or your circle of friends, or even in this church, who seems to be miles and miles ahead of you in a spiritual walk. Perhaps the whole idea of comfort and hope seems impossible, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances.

In 1847, a boy named Homan Walsh went out to fly a kite. Homan was taking part in a kite-flying contest, so he brought his best kite, and plenty of string.

He stood on the Canadian bank of the Niagara River, letting more and more of that string go out, and his little-boy’s kite kept going higher, and higher, and higher … until it stretched nearly 1,000 feet. When a stranger on the American side of the Niagara Gorge grabbed Homan’s string, the crowd that had gathered let up a mighty roar. For the first time in history, people on opposite sides of this great gorge were holding onto the same string. And Homan won $5, the top prize in the contest.

There was much more than $5 at stake, however. In short order, the string was tied to a tree on the American shoreline, and a light cord tied to the Canadian end of the string. The cord was then pulled across the 800-foot span. A rope was tied to the cord, and pulled safely across. To the rope was attached a wire cable, and to the cable, a thicker cable attached. It was the beginning of an engineering victory over one of the greatest natural barriers that had separated Americans and Canadians.

Fifty-foot towers were built on each side of the river, and more cables became a part of the picture. In time, people rode across the river in buckets, for $1 each, and then they walked on a foot bridge for a quarter. But less than a year after Homan’s kite first flew across the river, people were safely riding their horse-drawn carriages across the Niagara, on a marvelous suspension bridge that hung 220 feet over the rushing water.

Eventually, there were 15 bridges that spanned the Niagara, six of which are in use today. The thousands of passengers that travel across the multi-lane, high-speed bridges today think nothing of the bridge, some of them so familiar with the path, they barely glance at the scenic view. More than likely, it has never occurred to most of those on the great bridges today that somewhere in the past, just to get this modern-day miracle under way, somebody had to fly a kite.

If great bridges can get their start with a boy’s kite and string, then I’ll tell you that great spiritual experiences can get their start with amazingly simple decisions.

The Lord’s Supper is one of the world’s simplest meals. From one vantage point, it might not seem much more significant than a boy flying a kite. It might seem little more than a string of a connection between you and God. My offer to you today is … make that connection. From the smallest beginnings can come great bridges of faith.

The Lord’s Supper is a time for self-examination.

Speaking about the Lord’s Supper in his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (! Corinthians 11:28 NIV).

Paul’s emphasis surely must have been on the words “themselves.”  We do not come to this hour to sit in judgment on others. We are not here to examine the lives of our fellow believers.  To partake of this supper in such a manner would be to eat and drink “unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:29).

A self-examination admits sin, whatever it may be and where it may be in our lives.  It is simply to be honest about ourselves before God.

Simon Peter’s failure to make such a self-examination may well explain his claim. “I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death” (Luke 22:33) I do not think he was hypocritical, nor was he deliberately telling a falsehood.  He simply failed to see himself as he really was, and a humiliating denial of Christ followed.

We may save ourselves many spiritual defeats if we will pause and examine ourselves.  Self examination should result in turning from our sin. We can accept the encouraging promise that “whosoever confessed and forsaketh (his sins) shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

The Lord’s Supper is a time for meditation on Christ’s death.

One of the main purposes of this ordinance is to meditate on Christ’s death.  Paul continuing to talk about the significance of the Lord’s Supper wrote in First Corinthians 11:26 NIV., “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Could it be that the reason we do not feel any greater obligation to Christ is that we seldom really meditate on his death? Looking on the broken and bruised body of Christ on the cross will have a sovereign influence on our lives.

It is a time for humility.  We will never admit our need to begin again as long as we are filled with pride.  Only the humble will say, “I am wrong: I have sinned. Forgive me, Lord and let me begin again.”

How soon the disciples returned to pride and littleness after the high hour of the Lord’s Supper! Luke 22:24-27 relates the strife that arose because these grown men, like little children, were arguing over “which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24).  This would be unbelievable if it were not such a common occurrence within the church today.

Christ reminded his disciples that the lost world, “the Gentiles,” were filled with such pride, but that as believers they were to emulate his humility of self-giving, which had just been dramatized through through the Last Supper.  

Would you like to stop right where you are and start all over again? If so, you have come to the right place at the right time, for the observance of the Lord’s Supper is a ime for fresh dedication, self-examination, meditation on the death of Christ, and humility.  If you would begin again, simply bow your head and tell the Lord that this is what you want to do.