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SERMONSSERMONS

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By John A. Huffman Jr. | Senior Pastor of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, Calif., and a contributing editor of Preaching
for his steadfast love endures forever;

the moon and stars to rule over the night,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

It is he who remembered us in our low estate,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

and rescued us from our foes,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

who gives food to all flesh,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

O give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

This is a family reunion. Look around this room. Think of the various churches in our community and throughout the world, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Family reunion is the first picture I'd like you to have in mind.

And the second is that of a symphony orchestra and choir.

Imagine a conductor, dressed in a tuxedo, steps out here and has about 200 people in the orchestra and choir. He lifts the baton. And let's imagine what would happen if, at the moment he lifts the baton, everyone begins to sing, play or whistle their own favorite tunes. And even Susan Boyle steps to the front and begins to sing—that Scottish woman who took the world by storm for a few days, her 15 minutes of fame.

No, instead, when the baton is raised by the conductor of an orchestra and choir, there is the joining of individual tastes in music, types of voices—sopranos, altos,  tenors, baritones, basses—and all these various instruments; and the ages and experiences combine in a magnificent presentation of Franz Schubert's "Mass in G" in what we call concert. That's right. All the differences in individual tastes in music and personal backgrounds are brought together in a symphony, a united effort. And that's what we have here at the table.

Paul chided the church at Corinth. They had great variety in the church at Corinth. They had wealthy people. They had poor people. They had slaves. They had abused the Lord's Supper. They had come for the common meal; and those who were wealthy were able to come earlier, and they began to drink too much and eat too much. Then those who were their servants and slaves came later, and the choice food was gone. It wasn't a very pleasant sight.

You say, "Even in the early church?" Yes, even in the early church. Paul had to address the issue and tell them that they needed to understand that they were coming together in all of their backgrounds and differences; but they needed to function in the same music, on the same page, in a loving, caring occasion.

There's a third picture to add to that of the family reunion and symphonies and choirs.

Think of a memorial service.

We used to call them funerals. We call them, in our Christian tradition, memorial services because of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—the fact that we have an opportunity to celebrate not just the life of the person but what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

As we come to the table today, this is a memorial service in memory of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13 has a great benediction with which I'll close the service: "Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen."

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