All Things New

This morning I was given the opportunity to share some communion thoughts at Woodmont Hills church of Christ, where my professor, Dean Barham, is the preacher.  First, I just want to say how much I love Dean.  He is one of the most humble, transparent, and sincere men it has ever been my privilege to know.  I am so grateful for the way he pours into his students to equip them for ministry and then gives them opportunities to live it out, like he did by inviting me to speak today.  Second, I want to say what a blessing it was to be a part of the Woodmont Hills family this morning.  They were so accepting, encouraging, and supportive.  But really, it wasn’t just for this morning; they are my family.  And I love that in the body of Christ, community has nothing to do with distance.

When Dean asked me to speak on Thursday, I knew within an hour what God was laying on my heart to share; not anything really creative or impressive to put the spotlight on me, but a simple telling of the story.  It was like I had no other choice; the entire talk, wording and everything, just kinda came together in my head before I could even consider anything else.  When I told Dean what I was thinking, he responded, “That’s perfect, because we’re actually going through the Story right now.”  How amazing is that?

This was my first time speaking outside of a small group or classroom setting, and it was such an incredible opportunity to get to share with my fellow Christians.  Of course, there were a few inevitable mistakes.  Attempting to go note-less, I lost my place second service and there was an awkwardly long pause.  Amazingly enough, afterwards a man came up to introduce himself and said (not kidding), “I’ve heard the story before, but the way you told it was so powerful.  When you paused like that to let it sink in, it brought me to tears.”  Exhibit A: God can use mistakes.  Ha!  But just because of the timing of this opportunity and a thousand other little things that I don’t have time to write about, I feel like this whole experience was God confirming my calling and giving me confidence to continue sharing the story.  So…here’s pretty much what I said this morning, run-on sentences and all.

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I don’t have anything super original or ground-breaking to share with you this morning, but I do have something beautiful to share with you: the same beautiful story that has been told for thousands of years, of God’s plan of salvation from Genesis to Revelation.  The church has come together to tell the same story for so long because it tells us where we’ve come from and where we’re going.  It’s the story of God’s redemption.  It’s the story of God fixing broken things.  It’s the story of God making all things new.

And God has been in the business of making things new from the very beginning, when the earth was formless and empty, and with a word He spoke the universe into being, and created everything that is good and perfect and beautiful.

But then sin entered the world, leaving an ugly dark splotch on the first page of God’s story.  So a broken-hearted God sent a flood on the earth to start over again, to cleanse the earth and make it new.  And again we chose to turn away from God.

But even then, God still had a plan.  He chose a man named Abram and gave him a new name, and promised that through his descendants, through God’s chosen people Israel, all nations on earth would be blessed.  For through Abraham’s line would come Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Centuries later, when Israel was in bondage in Egypt and the promise was all but forgotten, God came through again to redeem His people and lead them out of Egypt into a new land, a new life, a new hope.  Their exodus from Egypt came to be known and remembered as the Passover — the celebration of a new freedom.  God made a covenant with His people Israel and set up a standard to show them what it would look like to be a community of God.  But Israel too went their own way and turned away from God.

And at the most crucial moment in human history, God sent the promised and long-awaited Messiah, from the line of Judah, His own Son, Jesus Christ. He came to live and walk among us, to die for us, to bring peace with God.  But Jesus was not the political Messiah everyone expected.  He ushered in a new standard, exemplified a new way of life.  He showed us what we were created to be, what we could become, and what we could look like as God’s people.

As Jesus celebrated his last Passover meal with His disciples, this too He gave new meaning.  As Israel came together year after year to reenact the drama and tell the story of a new life, we as the church still come together week after week to tell the story of Jesus and celebrate the new covenant: a covenant not of justification by human effort, but a covenant of grace.  A covenant of one sacrifice, once for all.  A covenant written in the blood of the Son of God.

And as we gather to tell the story this morning with Christ in our midst, 2nd Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  But even there, God isn’t finished making things new.  He will continue to redeem and restore until the creation has been brought back to the potential for which it was created.

In Revelation God tells us that there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  He says “Behold, I am making all things new…there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  It’s done, it’s gone…and the new has come.  So now we take communion as a symbol, but a symbol is all it is.  It’s only a shadow of what is to come.  Paul says in 1st Corinthians 13 that when the perfect comes, the imperfect disappears.  For now we know in part, but then we will know fully; now we see dimly, as in a mirror; then we will see face to face.

When we see Him face to face — when the old order of things has passed away and we sit at the table with Christ in the presence of God and all the saints who have gone before us, when these elements are no longer a symbol but a glorious and eternal reality — it will be the biggest kingdom celebration the world has ever seen, because He will have made all things new.

So we take communion to remember Christ’s death and resurrection, but also in anticipation of the coming kingdom.  So as we gather together to break bread with Christ in our midst, think about the concept of renewal.  As we invite Christ to be here with us, as we say yes to His transformation in our hearts and in our lives, looking forward to the redemption that awaits us, as we commune together as the body of Christ, day by day, moment by moment, He is making us new.

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Published in: on March 10, 2013 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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