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Table for One Pastor Wayne Murray

Table for One Pastor Wayne Murray

                           Table for One 

                                         Pastor Wayne Murray from Grace Assembly of God                         


People are divided over everything right now.  Even in the Christian community.  If I wear a facemask it means I don’t have enough faith.  If I don’t wear a facemask it means I don’t love people.  

As a pastor, people have told me, “I won’t come to church if I have to wear a mask.”  Others have told me, “I won’t come to church unless everyone wears a mask.”  If I pray for and honor those who serve our communities in law enforcement, then somehow, I am not sensitive to the African Americans in my community.  If I listen to the stories of African Americans and show encouragement for them in their very real experiences of racism, then somehow, I am against the police.  

Social media only exacerbates our differences.  I have witnessed online conversations between people who have been serving Christ for many years who argue politics, race, and masks.  It seems like they have forgotten the principles of Matthew 18, to talk to each other if they have a problem.

The good news is that conflict is nothing new.  People have been divided for a very long time. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote an entire book to a church in the New Testament whose primary issues were division.   It’s called First Corinthians.   These believers in Corinth were divided over who was their favorite apostle (not kidding).  They were divided over how long a man or woman’s hair should be.   They were divided over gender equality and a woman’s role in the church.  And they were divided over spiritual gifts.  It was a church filled with division. 

Paul addresses this division directly.  He says in 1 Corinthians 11:17 “There are divisions among you.”  Right in the middle of this book about division he describes one thing that brings us all together. Communion.  The only place in all his New Testament writings where Paul describes communion is here in this chapter.  I think it’s because Paul was offering communion as a means of healing division in the church.  

The word communion literally means, “common union.”  

The Lord’s table is the place of communion – union – unity.  It’s the place where we are reminded that we are one.  I believe the reason the Bible says we should observe communion often is that we often need to be reminded we are one spiritual family.  We may have a lot of differences of opinion, different preferences of worship styles, different preferences of preaching styles, but the Lord’s Table is where we are reminded that our unity is more important than our opinions.

It’s at the Lord’s table Paul instructs us to remember three things that bring us together. 


Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:23 “I received from the Lord Himself that which I passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks. . .”

The Greek word for communion is “eucharisto” which literally means “thanksgiving.”  When we come to the table of the Lord we come with gratitude.  We all have one thing in common. We all have received good from the Lord.  We are supposed to pause and reflect on the goodness of God.  Can you think of anything good in your life?  Give thanks to God.

I think the opposite of thanksgiving is complaining.  God hates complaining because it means we are not grateful.  The verse says Jesus gave thanks on the night he was betrayed.  On the very worst night of his life, Jesus chose to give thanks.  

What would happen to our families, our churches, and our country if we stopped complaining about one another and started giving thanks?  The result would be unity.  


Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:28 “Let a man examine himself . . .”

Think of the word examination.  That’s what happens in a courtroom.  Lawyers examine or cross examine witnesses.  Juries examine the evidence and then a judgment is made.

Paul is saying the Lord’s table is a time for examining or judging ourselves. At the table of the Lord we are commanded to examine or judge our relationship with God and with other people.  Paul goes on to say in verse 31 that if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.

The Lord’s table reminds us that we are all going to be judged by God.  We will all stand before the Lord and be judged by God for our lives.   We will not be able to blame anyone for our faults and failures.  It will just be us and God. 

It reminds us that I am supposed to judge myself, not other people.  The result is unity.


The last thing Paul encourages us to do at communion is to look forward to heaven.  “Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes again.” 1 Corinthians 11:26.When we receive communion – it’s a reminder that Jesus is coming back. I think there is one thing we can take away from all that is going on in our world, Jesus is soon to return.  

Instead of looking around we should be looking up . . .   In the book of Luke, Jesus said he will not participate in communion again until He does so with all His spiritual family in heaven. Communion is an opportunity to look forward to heaven.

In heaven will be every tribe and nation.  Every skin color and members of every political party. There will be people who are like you and people who are not like you.  There will be people who vote like you and those who cancel out your vote. There will be people in heaven who attend a different church than you.  

Communion is a time to reflect on heaven – that I will spend eternity with Jesus. Everything good.   No viruses. No masks.  No social distancing.  No cancer.  No diabetes.   No death.  No pain or worry or anxiety or fear, and even, no calories.

The one thing we all have in common is that we will all spend eternity in heaven or hell.  That should be what unites us.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the catacombs in Rome.  The catacombs are an underground cemetery where many first century believers were buried.  The Roman government persecuted Christians and would not allow Christians to be buried in Rome.  Followers of Jesus would gather secretly in the catacombs to encourage and pray for one another and receive communion.  The group I traveled with had the privilege of partaking of the bread and juice in a communion service there in the church built on the catacombs.  We were in a place where thousands of Christians had gathered or were buried.  They were like the cloud of witnesses in that moment.  It was surreal when I realized not only does communion bring present believers together in unity, we join with every believer who has ever lived and become one with the body of Christ. 

May we all regularly partake of the table for one!                                

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