We have sat together at the Lord’s table and heard the old, old story of Jesus and His love forty-five times. As with the weekly Sabbath, preparation is the key to receiving the most from the service. We refresh our minds on the story of Jesus and His teachings by reading all four Gospel accounts during the previous month, rereading the chapters of Jesus’ last week the week of the service, and Isaiah 53 on the day of the service. The story never grows old.
We also remind ourselves of ourselves — the carnal nature we were rescued from — and of our gratitude for unmerited forgiveness of our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). At the service, the mood is usually set with singing: “I Love to Tell the Story,” “Nailed to the Cross,” “He Was Nailed to the Cross for Me,” and then “Christ Arose.” As Fanny Crosby wrote, “Love paid the ransom for me.” In Isaiah’s words: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 1:18, 19, NKJV).
Over the years of repeating this service and hearing the story, it becomes more precious as we apply its unchanging message to the ever-changing stage of life we are in. It is a somber and sobering time remembering every year, with gratitude, Jesus delivering us from our old path leading to eternal death. Then we thrill in the fact that physical death could not hold Him (Acts 2:24) and that He tore the bars away, arose a victor, and lives forever with His saints to reign. Hallelujah!
Maybe next year in Jerusalem!
John and Lois Lemley live in Vancouver, WA, and attend the CoG7 in Kalama, WA.