Watercolor painting by E. J. Kirsch

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Jun 3, 2018

“In the Family of the King” 6-3-18

I Samuel 18:17-30
June 3, 2018

Most of us have come to be very happy with our Sanctuary and its 18th or early 19th century appearance.  We also have deliberately styled our Worship Service after those from that earlier period.  But I caution you not to fool yourselves into thinking that you would be comfortable in a sanctuary or a worship service that took place in that period.
Your first area of discomfort in an 18th century Worship Service would be physical. While our church pews have the appearance of 18th century pews, they have two major differences.  First, there is the padding on the seats that make them much more comfortable than their earlier prototypes.  Then there are the backs.  The Backs of our pews SEEM to be flat, but if you look carefully, you will notice that they are contoured to fit your back, somewhat.  Their earlier prototypes would have been flat, flat as a board.
Another difference, at this time of year, would be the air conditioning that we have gotten used to and don’t really notice any more.
And as we move into the Lord’s Supper part of this service, you would notice another difference.  In many of our 18th century counterpart’s congregations, they needed a communion token to participate in the meal.
During the week or weeks before the congregation celebrated the Lord’s Supper, the Session somehow determined who of their congregants were worthy to receive the meal, and they instructed the Clerk of Session to deliver to each approved member a token, which they had to present to be given the bread and wine.
I have one such token from a church in Scotland.  It is similar to a coin, and is just a tiny bit larger than a quarter. 
This particular token is from a church in Scotland and has a date of 1827 on it.  On one side are the words, “Do this in remembrance of me” which are words of Jesus.  On the other side is printed, “But let a man examine himself,” which are the words of Paul about participation in the Lord’s Supper.
The meal which we have before us is holy.  It is to be one of the most important rituals that we do.  Its holiness or sacredness is multidimensional, as it has significance on many levels.
Today I will speak to only one, as it relates to the feelings of David, expressed 1000 years before Jesus.
In all of the gospels, the Last Supper is related to the Passover.  It was either a Passover meal or a pre-Passover meal.  The Passover meal celebrated the way in which God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
The Passover meal was always a family meal, to be celebrated with the entire multi-generational family present.  If the members of a family were less than 10, other families or those without families were to be invited. 
At the meal, the senior male of the host family presided in the role of Father. As we read the descriptions of the last supper with knowledge of Jewish practices and customs, it becomes obvious that Jesus and his apostles ate that last supper as a family, with Jesus in the position of Father.
During our Communion service, we state that this is Jesus’ table, or the Lord’s Table, declaring that this meal and table is an extension of the meal Jesus had with his apostles, where he was seated as their father.
It is in this setting that the feelings David expressed in our second lesson are appropriate. 
If you remember, one of the rewards offered by King Saul to the one who would kill Goliath was that he would get to marry one of the king’s daughters. 
That reward was not immediately bestowed on David, and the subject is dealt with in this passage in Chapter 18.  First David was offered Saul’s older daughter and David expressed some concern about being elevated to be the son in law of the king.
Later, when the younger daughter of the king is offered, he still expresses reservations.
Now, there is an undercurrent in this passage.  Saul did not really want David as his son in law.  He had grown to fear and hate David, so what he really wanted was David dead.  So, while he was offering his daughters to be his wife he also put him in dangerous positions on the battlefield hoping that the Philistine enemies will kill him in battle.
When David expressed his unworthiness to be the Son-in-law to the king, Saul set the bride price to be something he could afford, 100 dead philistines.  Which David and his men quickly dispatched.
But the point of all of this is that when we eat this meal, we do so as members of Jesus’ family.  He is the great king of Kings and Lord of Lords and this is his family table.
When you come to this table, you should share with David a sense of unworthiness to be in the family of the king.  But if you have faith in Jesus, you are a member of his family. 
In recent weeks of reading verses from Ephesians, we have seen that Paul addressed the Christians in Ephesus as being members of the family of God.  In our first Lesson today, the Apostle John wrote that we have been made children of God.
In a way, our coming into the family of God was similar to the way David became a part of Saul’s family.  He was granted entrance through death; He had to kill a hundred philistines.  We did not have to kill anyone to be in God’s family, God had his Son die for us.  And that is what we remember at this meal, this meal of the Family of God.
You should feel unworthy to be at this family meal, but God has called you into his family through the death of Jesus and through your Faith, given to you through God’s Holy Spirit.  Your presence here is not for your Glory, but for the Glory of God, who called you into his family, His eternal Family.

Pastor David Horner
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, IN 47906