Familiar and New
“In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20 CEB
Recently I ate lunch at a brand-new Chick-fil-A restaurant. It was the same exact design as the one closest to the church, where my wife happens to work. I have been in our local CFA more times than I can count. I know it pretty well actually. While the design and layout of the Chick-fil-A I ate at recently and the local one is the same—the other one was new. I walked in and was instantly familiar with the store, but everything in it was brand-new. It was familiar and new all at the same time. Have you ever had that type of experience? Have you experienced something that was very familiar and yet, at the same time, very new? It’s a little unusual and very comforting all at the same time.
This is what the biblical account of Jesus sharing the Passover meal with his disciples is about. The Passover was a ritual meal, or festival, that the Israelites celebrated every year. The purpose of the meal was to remember how God had saved them from the hands of pharaoh and led them out of captivity in Egypt. Every part of the meal has significance and helps those who participate to experience the same remembrance that others before them have celebrated for centuries. Each year when the Passover is celebrated the different aspects of the meal are familiar. The familiarity and consistency of the meal aids in the remembrance. Jesus and his disciples celebrated the festival of Passover beginning with their entrance into Jerusalem where Jesus was praised and welcomed as a prophet. Several days later they are in the upper room eating the Passover meal that was so familiar to them. Jesus makes this particular meal familiar and new.
The entire Passover meal was celebrated that night. It was familiar. Yet, Jesus made the meal new at the same time. When he came to the bread—which represented the bread the Israelites made in their home the night before the Passover—Jesus gave the bread new meaning. It was now his body given for his disciples. When he took the cup—which represented the blood of the lamb spread across the doorposts of their homes—Jesus gave the cup new meaning. It was now his blood poured out for his disciples and many for the forgiveness of sins. The Passover meal is a meal of remembrance and Jesus gave it new meaning—do this in remembrance of me. This festival of Passover that had been celebrated for centuries was familiar and now new at the same time. Jesus took what was familiar and gave it new meaning.
We are to do the same even today. The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed—it is familiar. We should not change the Gospel message ever. However, we are to find new ways of sharing the Gospel, the Good News, with the people in our families, our communities, and around the world. It should come as no surprise to most that the church in America is in decline. We must recover the familiar Good News of the Gospel and find new ways to share the Good News with an increasingly secular world. This is our mission. If we don’t, we will not be able to recognize the church in as little as one generation. The stakes are very high. Jesus charged all his followers to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The present and future of the church depends on our ability to take what we know as familiar and make it new for those who have never heard. It's up to us to take the Good News and offer it in new ways to new people in new places. This is our mission and the stakes are high. We are the ones who must answer the call.
Will you take the familiar and make it new? Are you willing to share the Good News? The future depends on you and me. We must be on mission together.
This weekend at all four worship services we continue the message series Make a Difference. We'll also introduce our stewardship campaign On Mission Together as we prepare for our 2019 ministry needs. In 2019 we will need to be on mission together to reach more people with the Good News. This weekend we will discuss how the stakes are high and why we must stay on mission together to make a difference. I hope you will join us this weekend and every weekend. The best is yet to come for St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!