In all aspects, the church is centred on Christ; His example, His beliefs, His purpose and His commission for us.
Around AD30, a man by the name of Jesus of Nazareth would begin preaching in the Roman protectorates of Judea & Syria (modern-day Israel & Lebanon), teaching a new message of love, forgiveness and forbearance of our fellow man. He performed miracles and healings, told parables that changed the way his audience thought about religion & society, and challenged the hypocrisy & legalism of the political/religious elite.
He claimed to be the Messiah, or Saviour of mankind, with the power not only to take away pain or physical ailment, but the power to forgive sin; to blot out our own transgressions. He was not only the prophesied Son of Man, but the living, breathing Son of God.
Within 3 years, He had amassed a following of witnesses (who would later record His account in the Gospels) and multitudes of crowds, eager to to hear Him speak and see Him perform micrales, so much so that He was considered a political threat to the ruling Roman & Jewish authorities. During the Jewish religious festival of Passover, where more than 3 Million Hebrews gathered from around the world in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples willingly left the protection of the crowds, to pray on the Mount of Olives, where His position was betrayed by Judas Iscariot (one of His disciples) for a bag of silver.
He was abandoned and denied by His disciples. He was tried by an extra-judicial hearing in the middle of the night, and sentenced to death for blasphemy against the ruling religious elite. He was whipped, beaten, and mocked, before being crucified on the hill of Golgotha.
After 3 days in the tomb, Jesus was resurrected, defeating death, and appeared to his disciples and many witnesses who recorded these events in the Gospels. It is this resurrection which gives the Christian hope in our own resurrection.
Just as Christ endured death, burial and resurrection, so too does the Christian undergo this process in their admittance to the universal church, through the rite of baptism:
"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might walk in newness of life."- Romans 6.3-4
We believe therefore in the redemption which God gives us through this immersive baptism, as an acceptance of God's grace, and being "born again", the new life that we are called to live, in the footsteps of Jesus Christ:
"...Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God..."- Ephesians 4.22-24
Before departing this earth and ascending to be at the right hand of God, Christ left his followers with one final commission:
"Go therefore, making disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."- Matthew 28.19-20
The same disciples which had abandoned Him were now ready and willing to spread His gospel across the known world, ready to endure hardships at the hands of both friend and foe, and ready even to die for their faith in Him.
As Christians in the 21st Century, we are now called to that same faith, that same commission.
Christ instituted a memorial, the night prior to his crucifixion, using the simple emblems of unleavened bread & unfermented grape juice to represent His body and blood, as a remembrance of His sacrifice and what it means for us.
Each Sunday at Eastern Shore, as are millions of Christians around the world, we proclaim the Lord's death through this Communion until His final return.