Holy Communion/ Ordinary things
Opening Ceremony: (Holy Communion)
By Bob Mendelsohn
Given at Moscow, Russia
1 June 2014
Shalom, and thank you, to each of you who has come to join together to make a difference for God in Moscow, in Russia, in Europe, in the world God made. I hope for each of you something from heaven during this campaign. In the Bible when a Jewish boy became 20 years old, he was responsible for being a man and for serving in the army. Later in Jewish history, that age dropped to 13 years old, and like so many of us, after his Bar Mitzvah, he became responsible for being a good Jewish man. In the US where I grew up, when a boy became 21 he became an adult and could drink vodka and could marry without his parents’ permission. So now, this summer, 2014, it is the 21st summer campaign in Moscow and no matter whether we speak from Bible or from Jewish life or from the US, Moscow is now an adult mission station, and leads the way in the Former Soviet Union, and dare I say, in the world, as Jews for Jesus and the work God has called us to perform.
Now that Jews for Jesus is an adult ministry, I take my responsibility as your chaplain very seriously. I know some of you personally, and have been your cheerleader in celebrating what you have done in service for our Messiah. In so many ways Jews for Jesus would be much less, and would have made less impact in the world, if you were not here. Therefore I say thank you for your two decades of service.
Others of you are new, either to Russia or to Jews for Jesus itself. All this talk of the stellar behavior of the Russian-speaking Jews for Jesus staff may be intimidating to you. You are, after all, not one of those pillars. You are not one of those mighty men. Perhaps you think of yourself as less than everyone else.
Over the next two weeks, we will meet together in chapel and in prayer and in street evangelism, bringing God’s good news to multitudes of our Jewish people, and multitudes of non-Jews as well. And during our chapel times I will be speaking to you from the Bible book known as Judges. And if you learn anything from that book, you will learn that God calls us to be available to him, and He is unimpressed with what else we might bring to his service. He wants you, not your gifts and talents. He doesn’t need your cleverness or your brilliance. What he needs and longs for is you. Ordinary you. Plain and simple-- you. If you bring you to him each day, and live in ordinary service to God, you will find His using you to be extra-ordinary. He wants you.
Maybe that’s why I’m excited to be with you during this campaign. I don’t bring much to offer you. I love the Lord and have been saved for 43 years. The life I bring is one that God is working on and will keep working on until I join him in heaven one day. The most important gift I bring to him, and I bring to you, is my availability. I’m here. Let’s see what God will do with us together.
In a moment we will take communion together. These two elements are fairly stock standard. They are not gold or silver. They are not electronic. They were not created by a genius. They are a sip of fruit of the vine and a bite of a piece of bread. I’d say they are fairly ordinary elements of a Jewish man’s table. No meat. No fruit. No potatoes. No luscious dessert. These are nothing so special. Just what was there on Passover on that night when Yeshua met with his friends before he was killed. He took ordinary things, bread without yeast and wine and turned them into extra-ordinary remembrances. And he told us whenever we do this we should remember him.
What should we remember? That God came to earth and lived like Superman or Ironman and wielded great superpowers? No. Should we remember the healings or the walking on water? That He fed 5,000 and made water into wine? No. He tells us that every time we take the communion of the Lord we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes back. (1 Cor. 11.26) What? After all the great things God did, we are to consider only one aspect of his earthly ministry continually memorable? Yes, that’s what I’m saying. When it all comes down to the ending, the ending is what matters the most. He was born to die. He was killed and rose from the dead for our life, today and eternally.
He will come again to receive us to himself, and to judge the world. He came the first time for removing sin from individuals by his dying on the cross; he will come again the 2nd time to remove sin from the planet. We have a duty in between those two comings, those two appearances, about which we will speak over the next couple weeks. For now
And these two elements of bread and wine are ordinary elements.
You and I are also ordinary elements in service to the King.
And when we are available to God, he transforms ordinary things into extra-ordinary servants. That’s today’s message and it will be our take-away each day after two weeks of exhaustive service. God wants to use us, as the Apostle Paul taught in his letter to the Corinthians:
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. (1 Cor. 1.26-29)
Jeremiah the prophet sounded that same warning/ consideration:
Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9.23-24)
So I ask the people who are distributing the bread and wine to come forward. Let’s hold those two items and consider what God might do with us, yielded and available to him tonight and the next 12 days. Then we will eat and drink together in a few minutes.
What if Mr. Putin invades another former Soviet republic? Are you frightened of military intervention? What if they shut down the metro stations? What if some of the Jewish leadership in the city threatens us with governmental actions that prevent our ability to hand out tracts or to telephone contacts? What if they arrest Ilya, Igor, Maxim or all of us? We really don’t know what might happen these next two weeks. What we do know is that God wants us to be available to him. That’s it.
I remember a story a woman told me some years ago about a dream she had. It was a doctor’s surgery and the operating room was the scene. A man was lying on the table, ready for the operation. The camera of her dream zoomed in and the doctor began calling for the instruments. But instead of scalpel and sponge, instead of the other items that a doctor would use for performing surgery, he was calling for people. “Alex Johnson. Boris Cohen. ” The doctor was God and he was looking for people to accomplish his purposes. All they had to do was to be nearby. He was looking for available ones. Is that you? I think so. That’s why we are all here. And others will join us over these days. And we are looking for others to join us in the life of faith with God, and in service to Him as well.
We take the Lord’s Supper; we take Bible history; we take ourselves to the Messiah and leave ourselves there, available to him for his purposes tonight and tomorrow. Amen?