Matney: Communion and Advent
At New Life Assembly of God, we commemorate the Last Supper on the First Sunday of the month. The first Sunday of this month was also the first Sunday of the Christmas Advent season and we integrated elements of communion and Advent into one service. Here is how a portion of our ceremony appeared.
Pastor: Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and the first Sunday of the month communion service. These two observances, Advent and communion, commemorate the coming of Jesus into the world as a baby in Bethlehem, and his death on the cross in Jerusalem. Each Sunday until Christmas, we will light a candle. Today we light the Candle of Hope.
First reader: The word “Advent” is from Latin, meaning “coming.” Today we celebrate the coming of Jesus to the earth. The world lay in darkness, but his coming brought the light of hope into the world.
Second reader: Jesus brought the hope of better things to come. He brought the promise of forgiveness through his body and blood, the promise of eternal life, and the promise of a daily relationship with the father through his priestly ministry and the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Third reader: Jesus brought the revelation that God is a good, good father. Jesus revealed a God who is loving and good, patient and pure, kind and mature.
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Congregation: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Pastor: Jesus is the light of the world and he has commissioned you and me to also be lights of hope in this dark world.
Congregation:“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15)
Pastor: Through each one of us, God wants to shine his light of faith, hope, love, forgiveness, kindness, joy and peace to others around us. Now, let us prepare our hearts to receive communion. Because Jesus was born, lived a sinless life, and paid the penalty for our sins through his body and blood, we can come with confidence to the throne of God.
First reader: Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God …
Second reader: Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings … Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
Third reader: Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can confidently hold forth, to the world around us, the candle of hope for better things to come.
Pastor: Let us hear the words of the great apostle Paul.
First reader: For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)
Second reader: In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this…, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:25-26)
Third reader: “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you.” (1 Corinthians 11:23)
Pastor: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Jesus. Let us now take the bread.
First reader: Then, he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:27-28)
Pastor: Jesus, thank you for giving us your life’s blood. Let us now drink the cup.
Second reader: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
Pastor: The Candle of Hope reminds us of Jesus’ first coming to earth as a baby in Bethlehem, and the hope of his second coming as king of kings when he returns for his people and will forever destroy all sickness and disease and death itself.
Congregation: The Candle of Hope reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world and that we too are the light of the world as we reflect God’s light and connect in God’s love with all people.
Pastor: Communion is a reminder that Jesus is the bread of life and that he wants us to take the bread of his presence (Exodus 25:30) to those around us. Through each of us, Jesus is still present in the world today. Let us commit ourselves to sharing the light of hope and extending the bread of his life, love and blessings to everyone around us. Amen.
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at email@example.com.