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One day, Samoset, a leader of the Abenaki people, and Tisquantum (better known as Squanto) visited the settlers. Squanto was a Wampanoag who had experience with other settlers and knew English. Squanto helped the settlers grow corn and use fish to fertilize their fields. After several meetings, a formal agreement was made between the settlers and the native people, and in March 1621, they joined together to protect each other from other tribes.
One day in the fall of the year 1621, four settlers from the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts were sent to hunt for food for a harvest celebration. The Native American tribe know as Wampanoag heard gunshots and alerted their leader, Massasoit, who thought the English might be preparing for war. Massasoit visited the English settlement with 90 of his men to see if the war rumor was true.
Soon after their visit, the Native Americans realized that the English were only hunting for the harvest celebration. Massasoit sent some of his own men to hunt deer for the feast and for three days, the English and native men, women, and children ate together. The meal consisted of deer, corn, shellfish, and roasted meat, different from today’s traditional Thanksgiving feast. They played ball games, sang, and danced.
Although prayers and thanks were probably offered at the 1621 harvest gathering, the first recorded religious Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth happened two years later in 1623. On this occasion, the colonists gave thanks to God for rain after a two-month drought.
The crazy thing here is that, you couldn’t have more diversity, a bigger difference in the people who celebrated the First Thanksgiving. And yet, they were able to set aside their differences and come together around a table, around something they shared in common. And this true story has become legend and inspired us for the last 400 years!
1 Corinthians 11:17-34 deals with themes of unity, and about coming together around the table for a shared meal of celebration!
But in the following instructions, I cannot praise you. For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. 18 First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. 19 But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized!
Appreciate Differences without Creating Division.
We are different. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. God loves variety and He created each one of us with lots of differences. We look different. We think different. We feel different. We act different. No two people are exactly alike. Even identical twins are not completely identical.
In the church, their differences, like their individual spiritual gifts, determined who would lead them.
We are different, but there should be no divisions among us.
But Paul goes so far to say that their meetings did more harm than good. Can you imagine him saying, “You know, it would be better if you just stayed home and didn’t meet together, because you’re doing more harm than good.” You’re actually losing ground when you meet. Divisions will kill worship for you and for everyone else too in the church. Nothing will kill it faster than division.
How can you tell if you have that division? Ask yourself “Is there another Christian that you can not sit down and pray with?”
Over time, we will hurt each other. When we are close and a family, we will say something or do something to hurt someone. We will get hurt.
Sometimes, if we don’t deal with it, we let the unforgiveness grow. We think, it’s okay, I can not like that person. I can not forgive this person and I can just not talk with them and we can still worship together. And we do that with this one. And then that one. And then, over time, we start dividing out our divisions.
When we divide out our divisions, we multiply the problem.
This person doesn’t get along with this person. And they tell this group and cliques and teams start to form. And it just grows into this deadly division. And people see it. And they are repulsed by it and they leave. And it grows and grows.
You can’t separate your spiritual life from your relational life.
Worship is a part of life and it involves relationships. We are to worship God together with others. We have to deal with conflict and handle it in a godly, productive way.
The Bible is clear on what to do when you have a conflict. You address it. You go to the person. The way you go is so important – you don’t go in blaming them. “Here’s what you did and how you hurt me.” No!
You don’t tell them how bad they are. You don’t grow the division. You go to make amends. It doesn’t mean they are your best friend. It means you make it right.
Sometimes, you’ve gotten offended and you just need to deal with that between you and God. If it’s just in your heart, then you don’t even have to bring them into it. Just deal with it between you and God. If they already know about it, you work it out.
The Corinthians started acting selfishly.
In unity, I focus on others – In division, I focus on me.
“I want this – I need this.” And what’s worse is, We stop focusing on those outside of the church. It becomes all about us.
That’s true in marriage too. When you are unified, you focus on your spouse. When you are divided, you are focusing on yourself.
What should you do? You build on what unites you and on what you have in common. You focus on their needs instead of your own.
When you meet together, you are not really interested in the Lord’s Supper. 21 For some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk. 22 What? Don’t you have your own homes for eating and drinking? Or do you really want to disgrace God’s church and shame the poor? What am I supposed to say? Do you want me to praise you? Well, I certainly will not praise you for this!
See others needs as more important than yours
They quickly developed a tradition of eating together and they called it a: Love feast. And then, they would celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.
But they developed a “Me first!” attitude. They pushed to the front of the line. One had too much and the other person didn’t get any.
Paul is saying, “You can’t center on yourself and worship together with others.
Now today, I haven’t seen people pushing and shoving to get to the front of the Lord’s Supper line at a worship service. But, we still can have that attitude of “Me first.”
We need to watch out for the Mine Field. Mine, Mine Mine! “I was here first – This is my church – I want my way! I give the money here, so it’s mine – You’re sitting in my chair – That’s my pew!
We say “mine” instead of Ours. This is our church! The church is God’s place for us together.
Verse 23 -25 – For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”
Paul talks about the healthy side of the Lord’s Supper
There’s something miraculous about this because Paul met Jesus face to face. Jesus taught Paul about the Lord’s Supper and what it was, and what it meant. In the Lord’s Supper, we remember the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.
We were there at the cross. The Lord’s Supper helps us picture it as if we were there. We are at the table with Jesus.
It’s a symbol of what Jesus went through: He went to the cross which was an instrument developed for a torturous death: He experienced exhaustion, exposure, pain, and suffocation.
Jesus gave himself for us. Why did Jesus go through such a physical death for our spiritual salvation? We devise sin in our minds, but then we carry out the sin through our bodies.
And so, Jesus used the elements of the bread to represent Jesus’ body and the cup, which represents his blood that was shed to remind us of the new covenant in his blood. A covenant is a promise. “Between God and His people.” We do it together. It’s a shared experience.
The Lord’s Supper is an affirmation that looks to the past of what Jesus did for us,
We are proclaiming this truth together in the Lord’s Supper to each other. It’s a sermon that we preach to each other.
Share it with others (26)
For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
The Lord’s Supper is an expectation that looks to the future.
Every time we celebrate we are closer to His personal coming and the moment we celebrate together at the Lord’s banquet table.
The Lord’s Supper is also a witness to others.
Paul talks about the dark side of the Lord’s Supper
Verse 27 – 29 – So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.
These are warnings because of the power of this ordinance.
When Paul says people are taking this in an unworthy manner, Paul is not saying you make yourself worthy. We are not worthy, but our worth comes through Christ.
So you don’t have to be afraid, “What if I have sinned?” and I forgot or something. He forgives us for all of our sin.
But if we have something against our brother we need to make it right. So we need to think about our relationships.
The manner in which they were taking the Lord’s Supper was self-centered and selfish.
30 – That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
33 So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other. 34 If you are really hungry, eat at home so you won’t bring judgment upon yourselves when you meet together. I’ll give you instructions about the other matters after I arrive.
When Paul says God will take them home to be with Him, we think, wow, that’s serious corporal punishment. The principle here is that God disciplines those He loves.
You are not condemned. But, He will discipline you.
Do you think, “everyone can get away with something, but I do one little thing and I’m busted?” Why? Because God has a higher standard and call for you.
“If I cheat on my taxes. If I talk to my kids in a bad way. God doesn’t let me get away with it.” That’s because you are His child. God isn’t condemning or judging you. He is lovingly disciplining you.
As a kid you didn’t feel loved when you were disciplined, but now you know. And he says you are brothers and sisters. You are family. So, wait for each other. Consider each other. Love each other well.