Posts Tagged Communion
But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. [NRSV]
Sin is a friend to us all.
- Even if we don’t invite sin to dinner, it shows up at the table.
- Even if we don’t plan for brokenness to break in, it will.
- Even if we begin to build up defense against the darkness of evil, it persists.
- Even if we had just said “no” a thousand times before, sin creeps into our hearts, minds and actions.
- It claims friendship that we might never want: So that even our inaction can give witness of sin’s power.
What are we to do?
Our holy meal, of bread and wine, instituted by Jesus for the disciples and for “all who have sinned and fallen short,” is our remedy.
Think back to the dinner that first communion night. Jesus had gathered with friends to celebrate the Passover remembrance. The would have followed generations of Hebrews ritual and instruction since Moses at the tenth plague against Pharaoh in Egypt.
The blood of a sacrificial lamb was placed on the on the lentil, brushing it with the top of the doorway as a sign that those within that house were safe, protected, to be passed over. Thus the name, “Passover” itself remains a promise that God 1) knows the power of sin and death and 2) God is ready to provide a way of salvation for those willing to claim it.
Today I invite you to think about the stickiness of sin. It might start small or we might jump in over our heads, either way, we continue to see it’s power and presence among us.
The starting place to deal with sin, is with ourselves.
Long before we talk about the evils in the world, we look at where we water down goodness/righteousness, God word and presence to make it easier or more convenient for us individually.
Sin creeps in more than diving in :Shade of Grey
Love your neighbor… as long as I’m around them I will act neighborly and polite.
Feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner,….. as long as they deserve it, or not too much trouble.
Forgive your enemy… What good would that do?
Sell all of your possessions…. after I take care of everything else first.
Turn the other cheek….When the other guy goes first.
Don’t worry about the future…. Are we supposed to sell all and go sit on the street corner?
The Happy Meal: Why is Communion the powerful Remedy
The cup connects us to the sacrifice that Jesus made as an exchange on our behalf. Jesus paid our debt.
The Bread, is about dealing with the sticky, glutinous, power of leaven: Meet you in the broken crumbs of sin. Jesus is there for you. (Communion served in our brokenness)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [NRSV]
I ritual of disciples: I have always been conflicted about holy communion being something the church designates as responsibility of the ordained clergy, when Jesus gives the instruction to disciples to remember and relive the ritual with every meal.
We speak of “asking the blessing” or “saying grace” as a mini-ritual of prayer before our meals. I dare not disregard one of few things that the church has made necessary for our elders, but I want to expand what it means to “eat the bread of life.”
Who is hungry?
Poverty among our neighbors.
How will they be fed?
In the text there are references to Moses and the following traditions of ministry of feeding. There are hungry people in Walker and Catoosa, There are hungry people in Culebra and Costa Rica. There are people who are hungry for eternal food on facebook and faceless corners of the earth. Who will feed those we know to be hungry.
Look the other way and change the channel when you see someone who hungers for Jesus. The work is be for us.
How often do we Communion?
Communion is our reminder that there are those who hunger for Jesus. If we feed without sharing Jesus we fool ourselves and those we feed. If we think we can share Jesus without feeding the hungry we fool them and ourselves.
Communion is a celebration of union with Christ Jesus, disciples and all who hunger for grace, forgiveness, direction, answers, hope, freedom, power: Jesus.
Break bread with someone this week and share Jesus. It might be stranger or your family or best friend, but use the time to share Jesus with one another: read the scripture, sing the songs, tell the story that Jesus gives his life in exchange for ours and Jesus entrusts his presence in the church/body.
So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. [NRSV]
In reading this passage we find no parable or stories, no historical travel plans to orient or date the occasion. This is part of a larger lesson or even sermon about Jesus Christ.
The book is called Hebrews and was most likely written by someone who had excellent writing skills in Greek, who knew the Greek version of the Old Testament but was not so concerned about Jesus being the messiah as much as Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the Most High.
The audience seems to be those who might have a mental understanding of Jesus as the Christ, but lack a motivation to have relationship with the Christ. The heart of the book seems to be 4:14 “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”
- Jesus who has been made perfect, [whole] for our brokenness.
- Jesus becomes our source for salvation.
- We connect to this source through obedience.
- With obedience, we can expect suffering.
- Through suffering we can expect to find Christ.
- Therefore, Trust the Jesus with all things.
- In suffering, joy and eternity
So let’s get to the trouble spot: Obey?!
To obey is to respond in direct relation to command, instructions, or restrictions.
WHY? Would we give up our will to choose God’s?
The resume’ of resume’s
- Christ was appointed by God for you and me
- Christ’s kingdom is eternal one, high priest of the order of Melchizedek.
- Christ who suffered for you and me, died and lives for our benefit
- Christ modeled the power of obedience as child of God
- Christ connects us to God as children of God, joint heirs
Bottom line: in a world that is tearing countries, families and lives apart. We need to know our Savior is near!
Melchizedek is this mystical priest that shows up with Abram in the midst of a 4 nations against 5 nations battle, when the larger forces raid one of the nations in the night, Abram takes his trained special force folks at night and brings back the people/families, animals and other possessions and returns them to the king who was defeated. For Abram’s since of justice and restoration, King “Mel” shows up, offers up bread and wine and blesses Abram for his graciousness. (Sound familiar?)
Abram is lead by the creed of grace and is blessed.
It is through the same priesthood that Jesus the Christ is sent by God to give us grace and to bless us in a world that is dividing families and nations and resources.
Why do we obey Jesus?
- Because he has come to us as a Son
- He has suffered for our benefit
He has come to bless us who are fighting and divided
Who needs to hear about Obeying Jesus
- Those who would run from such a request.
- Those who have not hear or have lost faith that Jesus coming to suffer has anything to do with us now
- Those who might have heard but don’t see the personal benefit Jesus affords us.
- Those who are closed to seeing and experiencing the blessing of following, trusting and obeying THE highest of priest. The one who came to seek and save the lowest and the greatest. Me and you.
The Greatest Threat: is to Obey ourselves in the name of God or in the place of God. (don’t fool yourself, God or anyone else)
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
|Bread of Life: Feed the Hunger, Fill Your Spirit First.|
Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall. [NRSV]
Covered Dish… “A dish with the lid glued on to it with the words: “Covered Dish” as an act of hospitality.
Once I visited a Hindu commune as a seminary assignment. We invited in to observe, but they insisted we participate in order to observe. After 16 verses of singing the Hari Krishna mantra, we had to sing and dances in a circle singing it 16 more times. After which a large curtain was pulled back at one end of the room we were gathered, which revealed two dozen colorful life-sized figures of different idols. There in front of them was our dinner. After were we sprinkled with coconut milk and flower petals were listened to the guru speak for hours and then we had to eat.
What are the limits of southern hospitality? We ate, found our shoes and ran to the car. We stopped at the Varsity on the way home got our Chilli dogs, rings and Frost Orange.
Paul has found himself in a community of folks who are worshiping in a different way. He is confronted with being faithful in the context of those who are not like him.
Paul: Troubling statement, that is easy to leave on the buffet of bible verses: Eating Food nor Avoiding Food will neither save nor condemn up.
Remind your neighbor: “The Spirit is not fed with physical food.”
Girl Scout Cookies come when people typically give up on their new years diet resolutions
Faith Restaurant: I have always wanted to start a spiritual restaurant, coffee house. That not only creates jobs for those who would otherwise find is most difficult to get a job and build some work-equity to help transform their. With profit sharing for those who provide the work.
Using food from a community garden and fair-trade partners and local farmers giving strength to the local community.
Preparing food from purchasing, prepping, serving and cleaning through prayer and Christian fellowship.
Not simply closing on Sunday’s and assuming people know why we do so, but being bold in explaining why we might do so.
In addition to the waiters and waitresses there would be people who provided pastoral care from table to table. Praying, listening, encouraging and modeling Christian fellowship with a busy culture that would rather eat bad over priced food in an attempt to satisfy the hunger of their spirit.
Paul takes the stance that he will abstain from eating meat so his witness might include his eating and so there would be confusion if his food was offered to idols or not, he would eat other things. Some folks are vegetarians for diet choices, others do so for support of animals. Paul is not focusing on health of his body neither animals bodies, he is focusing on his spiritual self: letting his faith take priority to his taste buds. Wow! Now, he is NOT fasting, he is witnesses his Spiritual self in a physical body.
Tell you neighbor: “I am a Spiritual person in a physical body.” Repeat..
I don’t like this passage. You know I like my Krispy Kreme; I like meat. Let’s skip this verse and find one about Jesus and the children or Something that assures our salvation, The Christmas story… leave my food alone.
Food Glorious Food – Oliver, the musical, song later used in Ice Age, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Charlottes Web, are variant of the words from the forgotten boys home who are given gruel everyday and they dream of having what rich gentlemen get: indigestion.
Food is a marvelous thing. It is the fuel for our physical bodies. There are so many foods that look good, taste good, smell good, have appealing textures, and satisfy the cravings of our chemistry.
Keep in mind, Paul is not fasting. He is not giving up caring for his physical body. He is not making a political statement. He is not controlling his weight. He is not starving himself.
There are times and places to stretch our spiritual grow and maturity that fasting is appropriate and even necessary, but today Paul is talking about eating.
Scout Can Drive
We are surrounded by people in our communities who do not have enough to eat to nourish their bodies. I remember doing a can drive for our scout troop one year. We placed empty bags with a note attached that stated: “We will be coming to your door tomorrow asking for donations of canned foods. Please fill this bag and leave it on your front door and BSA Troup 314 scouts will deliver your gift to the community pantry where it will help feed our neighbors. It was a very successful method of having people informed with a convenient way to collect a great about of food in a short period of time.
At one house the bag was filled with empty cans and a note. “Where is the community pantry? We are in need of food.
We had enough to share in our homes and guessed that some kids wanting us to take our trash. Our Scoutmaster took us back to this house and invited us in because he said we needed to see this. If it was just a kids joke, we’d invite the fellow to our troop and if they needed food we could see for ourselves. It was a nice home. The yard was plain but kept. We were invited in and the modest size house had almost no furniture. One box of toys and games for three children, and most of the blinds were pulled so the house was rather dark. We went into the kitchen and the scoutmaster asked to see the cupboard and refrigerator: I remember there were pickles, a bottle of formula-milk, olives and an opened quart of milk. The cabinets were empty except for salt, pepper, Texas Pete’s hot sauce and tooth picks.
We went to the truck and skipped the community food bank. We left every can they would eat. We didn’t follow the rules and procedures; we followed our hearts in love of Christ and compassion on those who were hungry.
Missing the Point
We can feed people and think we have this food thing seal up and covered, while all this good, it skirts around this verse: Paul is affirming that it is more important to satisfy our spirit than our body.
Tell your neighbor, “It is more important to satisfy our spirit than our body.”
Tell your neighbor, “I don’t always like that” “I don’t know if that is true.” “What’s for lunch?”
Bottom line: Feed the Spirit First, Feed the stomach second.
How often to do you spend on feeding your body?
Time Working to buy or grow our food
Time and energy gathering and preparing our food
Time and energy eating food
Time and cost of cleaning up from eating?
Money and energy from eating too much or things that don’t build up our bodies?
How much is all that time….
How much time do we devote to being with God and God’s people, on an average day?
Time praying? Studying the bible? Singing, worshiping?
Fellow-shipping, Serving and encouraging others in the faith?
Who is starving their Spirit?
Let’s make a commitment to God and one another to encourage one another.
Let’s use technology to remind us to prayer, serve and love
Let’s make an intentional effort to feed one another as well as ourselves.
Let’s eat, I don’t know about you, I’m hungry.
Feed my spirit, Fill my heart. Satisfy my cravings. Make me whole. Amen.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [NRSV]
1. Jesus told Philip who told Nathanael who told Philip about Jesus.
Discipleship is process of networking.
The invitation is “Follow Me”. Go where I am going.
We are not called to tell people where to go nor what to do. We don’t have to have the answers, we just take them where we are going and growing.
Philip didn’t know it all, but he knew enough.
In knowing Jesus Christ, we know enough to lead us to a community faith, into small groups of study and prayer and Christian fellowship
Our mission is to invite others to follow. Come WITH me and we will find the Lord together.
Goal of fifty new members. Will you join me in finding one person who will follow you to church. Out of the 100-150 of us here, make it your personal mission to bring ONE person this year.
Philip Brings Nathanel, doubting and questioning and complaining, Nathaniel follows and is found by Jesus. Philip on askes Nat to follow, to come with me.
2. How could anything Good come out of the little town of Nazareth?
Nazareth: population 100-150, not included in the Talmud/OT as a city.
Rock Spring: population 4,500 in 2012. Villanow at 1900. Plainville 375. The smallest incorporated village in Georgia is my home town, Garfield with a population of 202 souls.
- Steve Wozniack was an electronics hacker, and he and his long time friend Steve Jobs had this idea to create a personal computer. In 1976, the two approached a local electronics store to see if they would be interested in buying a personal computer that Wozniack had built. Their first order was for 50 “Apple” computers.
- In 1971, three academics each invested $1350 of their own money into the first Starbucks located in downtown Seattle. English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker opened the store called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice
- In 1978, twenty-five year old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one year old Rene Lawson Hardy, saved and borrowed money from family and friends to open the doors of a small natural foods store in Austin, Texas. Within a year of opening the store, the couple was evicted from their home for using their apartment storage for the store. Homeless and with no place to go they decided to save costs by moving and living at their store full time. Since their store “Saferway” was zoned for commercial use only, there was no shower stall. According to the company’s website, the two instead bathed in the Hobart dishwasher, which had an attached water hose.
- In the spring of 1891, the 29-year-old William Wrigley Jr. moved from Philadelphia to Chicago with only $32 to his name. Soon after arriving in Chicago, Wrigley began selling soap. As an incentive to the customers, if they purchased his soap, he would give them a free can of baking powder. Soon baking powder proved to be more popular than the soap he was selling, so he switched his business. A year later, in 1892, Wrigley used chewing gum as an incentive for buying his baking powder. Again, chewing gum proved to be more popular than baking powder, and so he switched business again. The first brand of chewing gum Wrigley produced was Juicy Fruit in 1893.
What good can come from RSUMC? Look at the (bulletin). Years ago folks would have said nothing but look we have living witnesses.
What good can come from sharing Christ with folks with whom we work, school, live, play, shop and travel? Nothing in we don’t invite them to follow.
The greatness is not in the size of the person nor the size of the church. Greatness is found in the responding to the invitation to find Christ
Examples of greatness coming out of small beginning
3. Trust the witness of Philip as if Jesus told you first hand.
Trust that you might not be able to reach everyone, but there is someone who will follow you, someone who will journey with you.
We might want it to be someone we know, a family member or someone we conveniently see each week or day.
I keep asking and inviting until i find one who will follow with me.
When the chapel was first built on this location, did the members see the need for an education building, or two, or a preschool, of the spring… who can imagine what ministries will call for what facilities 50 to 100 years from now. But the congregation we will be is shaped by the faithful willingness of those who have paved and reached, taught and sung, praised and raised in times past, stand as a witness for us to continue to extend the invitation. Come, follow me.
The was once the slogan of the United Methodist Church, we moved to Open Door, Open Minds, Open Hearts, to Rethink Church to now the watch word is.. don’t ask, don’t tell.
Seriously, we are not limited by a slogan, our mission is follow Christ and to invite others to join our faith journey.
So why are you sitting here, when there are those still out there.
Communion, All Saints, Signs and Spiritual Satisfaction: A full meal
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. [NRSV]
First of all: Reminder, there will be no homework during the month of November. Just class work..
It is fitting that we check in with this passage on All Saints Sunday. Each year on the first Sunday in November think back about those who now no longer with us, in the body, but are ever present in Spirit in our hearts and memories and join in worship with us from the stadium seats of heaven.
[the eight people you sit with in heaven: The three in front are three people we have looked for guidance who have gone ahead, they lead us to toward the throne. The three behind are the three folks who have looked over our shoulder, pushed and poke us, and clean up after us all our years. The last two people we think we would want to sit next to for eternity on the left and right. So who would want to go?]
In the passage from John’s Gospel he recounts how the people looking for Jesus remembered their heritage, but they missed the relationship with God of their kin folks.
There is an old preacher story about a student who went to his 25th class reunion and went to the professor and re-introduced himself to the teacher and said, “I am Dan Smith, I was one of your students.” The professor shakes his head and reflects for a time and then replies, “you may have attended my class, but you were never one of my students.”
Do we just go to the church? do we go through the idea or Christianity or is there a relationship in addition to the teachings. I have been reading a remarkable book by the Barna Group that has been studying the church in great detail since the 1970s. There study of Christians in the United States recounts that in the past ten years, the total number of folks who profess to be Christians or believe Christian morals are good has dropped from 49% to 39% (Nearly half to almost a third.) Of that 39% who claim the title and wear the name tag when asked, 8% report having their closes friends in the church. Conclusion: We like what Jesus said, not so much about the people who are talking about him. (RSUMC may not reflect this as drastically, but it does speak of the country as a whole.)
One of the greatest fears of growing old in America, and most everywhere, is that we will be forgotten an alone. Who’s task is it to remember our older generation? Who’s task is it to feed and clothe the poor? Is it the government’s responsibility? (NO!) It is our command, commission and calling!
The Teachers Question and Answer session of teaching
Also in the text, is the first question from the people, after Jesus leaves from feeding the 5000 he goes to pray and rest and the people find him and want to know how he got ahead of them.
Teacher how did you get hear ahead of us? God is not to be figured out..
To the crowds Jesus says, Are you only looking for entrainment? a free meal? something amazing to talk about?
Teaching: Work for what the Son of Man will give you. Feed the hungry and poor so they will know God, Jesus, Spirit, things that are eternal.
Back step 1: How do we do the things that you do? What’s the trick? What’s the power? (We are just like you and we can do what you do if you show us. then we won’t be a bother you any more)
Jesus: First you are not seeing God in Jesus, only a free lunch. Second, I want you all to follow not replicate and replace me….
Back step again: If you want us to know you are God, then give us a sign. We know Our story how Moses and the Israelite tribes ate manna, show us the manna! Show us the manna. Show us the proof and then we will believe you like our kin believed Moses.
Jesus: Moses was not responsible for the manna; God sent the manna then, and I am the manna now. I will satisfy your Spiritual hunger.
Q: How often is too often for communion. One of the complaints about communion is 1) Why don’ t we use wine like Jesus did, and not watered down but the good stuff just like Jesus made for the wedding? 2) If we communion too often it will loose it’s meaning. 3) It takes up too much time in the service. 4) It is just a hot-bed of germs and virus waiting to be swapped.
A: 1) Methodist heritage, Wesley didn’t want to promote alcoholism and didn’t want those who struggled with alcohol to be required to taste what was best for them to avoid, just to received the grace,
2) If we eat food too often we will grow tired of eating and will all starve to death because we have taken the meaning out eating food. Doubt it
3) Preparing, serving always take more time and energy than eating. Thank you servers here and every where you are served.
4) More people touched the door handle to get in this building than will touch one of these cups. If you didn’t get germs off the door, your chair or in greeting each other you are no more nor less likely to get germs from sharing the cup.
Heart of the matter. We are sharing the same menu and same ritual that those who started this church and those who gather in the upper room. It just bigger than we are.
5) Too often is not the question: Is it too often to tell my father that I love and respect and admire him? Now that he has gone to heaven, I think about his most every day. Express you love daily.
Our Class work is to come to the table, with each other.and know we join with those in heaven, and those in this place, and everyone who calls on the name of Jesus to feed and fill and satisfy our hearts today.
Once satisfied, we can do all things in Christ who lives and strengthens us..
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [NRSV]
Are you blessed? Look at the blessing side of these equations:
- Citizenship in Heaven
- Comforted here and now.
- Inheritors of the earth
- Filled with Satisfaction
- Swimming in Mercy
- Able to see God’s presence
- Known to be God’s child
- Have a place in heaven
- Heavenly Reward Waiting
Character Traits of the faithful
- Poor in spirit, Mourning, Meek
- Righteousness Seekers, Mercy, Seekers of God’s heart
- Makers of peace; Teased, Taunted, Tested and Tormented for doing what is Godly.
Jesus begins his teaching ministry to the crowds with instructions that define the measurable, witness-able, tangible descriptors of those who ‘get it’, those who would be followers, disciples, Christians.
Look Around you today
Are you surrounding by the blessed or cursed? Honestly we are some of both, some of the time. This is why we continually repent, pray for forgiveness, and seek to live a new the new life we celebrate in Holy Communion.
We come to the table because we have turned the other way.
Jesus begins be giving us a measuring stick of identify and path toward citizenship.
Forgive me, for I have sinned.
- Forgive me, for I have acted like I knew better than God and other Godly saints.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten that you gave your son for my life. I forgot what that feels like.
- Forgive me, for I have stopped growing my spiritual relationship.
- Forgive me, for I have taken your grace, but not shown it to others.
- Forgive me, for I have not had pure thoughts, motives, actions and words.
- Forgive me, for I have not tried to make peace and even stirred up trouble myself.
- Forgive me, for I have persecuted others because they were different.
- Forgive me, for I have said and done all kinds of evil that does not reflect your presence in my heart and life.
- Forgive me, for I have forgotten your Joy and misplaced your Gladness and Love.
Jesus words start as descriptors for Disciples and become daggers of conviction when we have not stayed on the path of Blessing.
An Opposing View
- Cursed are those who are full-of-themselves
- Cursed are those who stoic, selfish, and prideful,
- Cursed are those who know better than the rest of us
- Cursed are those who know better than God
- Cursed are those who judge with a log in their own eye
- Cursed are those who see only their wants and vision
- Cursed are those who to quiet to stop injustice or too loud in self-preservation
- Cursed are those who to sacred to be bold for God
The attitudes of Matthew 5.1-12 are the called such as they begin in our hearts and minds and then affect our actions and environment.
If our task is to make disciples of others for the transformation of the world, it begins by ‘checking’ our attitude to see if our heart and minds are God before we move to words and deeds.
Have someone ask you these questions this week and answer them honestly:
- Am I always right?
- Where does pride blind me and hinder others?
- Who knows best how to live in relationship with others?
- Am I willing to change what is broken in my life?
- Am I willing to see and feel how others feel and see life? And me?
- Will I speak bolding for God today? Each day?
- What scares me? Why would I be afraid if God is captain of our team?
What’s at Stake? EVERYTHING
- Being Blessed or Curse.
- Being included or outside.
- Saved or Damned.
- Loved or hated
- Remembered or forgotten
- God’s or my Own.
What is God doing about it?
- Has given us Christ to follow
- Has given us Christ for our sin
- Has given us Christ for living
- Has given us The Spirit for power and guidance
- Has given us the Church for fellowship and encouragement
- Has given us Word to study, learn, grow and share
- Has given us Music to tell and share
- Has given us ministry to share and reach
- Has given us resources to build and invest
The question, Our Question:
“What am I doing about my attitude and my actions as child of God?”
Come to the Table and start fresh in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Come to the table and be filled, anew.
3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” [NRSV]
Baptism Text: The text from Matthew focuses on the relationship between Jesus and John and the fulfillment of scripture. It also describes the humanity of Jesus and affirms that baptism is not simply a cleansing ritual, but rather a presence and claim experience between us and God.
We celebrate and practice communion on a monthly basis. Each month we have the visual and tangible experience of finding Christ’s presence and it is a refresher or booster of our baptism.
Our communion table is Christ’s table and it open to all persons, for we are all in need of that grace and power of God’s claim on our lives.
Baptism is not a hoop to be checked-off as a membership requirement, although baptism is a sign that we are indeed members of the faith and joint heirs with Christ.
In Jesus’ baptism, it was not proof of his divinity, it is affirmation that we all need to be claimed by God.
Have you been baptized?
Do you remember?
I do not as I was only three months old and wore a linen dress on a hot south Georgia Sunday. Some strange man took me from my mother’s arms and poured cold water on my head and dress. Messed up my hair and caused me to scream and cry my eyes out. Finally I was returned to my father’s arms and was soon blinded by flash bulb from my grand parents who were then scolded for taking pictures in the sanctuary.
When I was thirteen I wore my sued chuck-a-boots, lime green leisure suit and parrot-paisley knit shirt to gather at the alter with my confirmation class lead by Sergeant Elizabeth Smith. I don’t know if she was ever in Uncle Sam’s army but she was certainly in the Lord’s Army and she prepared us to answer the perfect answers to the questions of examination of the faith. I don’t know if anyone at that altar that morning had a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience, but we were well dressed, well prepared and knew exactly where to stand.
It was more likely that I felt the presence of God’s Spirit in a recognizable way, for the first time, while a camper at Camp Glisson a year after my confirmation.
Divine Divide of Grace and Time
In the Matthew Text the timing between the human-to-human conversation and ritual of coming to John at the river is not about a confession of sinfulness for Jesus.
- 1. John’s invitation to believers and followers was to turn toward God, repentance. It is a spiritual alignment.
- Placing ourselves aimed toward God, from where ever we are and face where we are going and becoming in God’s grace.
- 2. There is the response of Jesus accepting the ritual and practice of belonging to those who need God’s claim of their lives.
- There is a transformation from John’s invitation to get cleaned-up to Jesus’s choosing to commit his life to the ministry of God’s choosing. So the water becomes not only cleansing; it also is a preparing for part two of our lives.
- 3. Is God’s claim of our willingness to place our lives and trust in God’s hands and heart.
- This is my child. When we are baptized, we also become child of God.
This is My Child
The most powerful part of the text is the claiming part of baptism. God declares, this is MY child. This person that John baptize is claim by God, not by John. Baptism is not so much a church ritual as it is a divine parental defining of our identity and relationship with God. We are the kids, God is the parent. We are the family together.
Questions and More Questions:
So are we not Children of God before we are baptized?
The simple answer is no, but that is not a completely helpful answer.
Yes we are children of God’s creation, filled with grace and hope of becoming one who chooses God’s heart to guide our lives. But God does not force the inheritance upon us. But it is ours for the taking.
The Door is Open
Think of Baptism as a doorway. You can walk in and see the life God has prepared for us. And once you have seen it you know what life God has for you. It is reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus.
We might think we can walk through that door, but the only way to undo awareness of coming of age is to choose rejection or apathy. But the Door of Baptism never closes.
There are those who would teach that you better utter the magic words, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior” before we draw out last breath because then it is too late. But they does not actually follow with a Gracious Parent who crosses the chasm of death to make a way for us.
A View from the Lap of God.
If you are seated in God’s lap, embraced in arms of love and mercy, kneely at the feet of the one who breathed breath from your first and last, if you look into God’s eyes and say: “I want no part of you, let me go.” I believe God lets us go.
If you are face to face with God in judgement and God asks, “Do you love me” and we reply “I hate you.” God does not force us to love.
If we are faced with the full picture of our life filled with failures, fears, sins and struggle and we say “Lord have Mercy” Why would God of Grace revert to the ways of the Law? God will have mercy
SO WHY NOT WAIT UNTIL THEN?
It is the power, life, claim, assurance, comfort, peace, grace, love that we live without if we wait.
God wants for each of us to be part of the family, why would someone want to just be a guest when they could be kin?
Salvation is a process. (Baptism is the start)
We are claimed and saved so that we can grow in relationship with God and God’s people.
This is why we are a church.
To claim the outsider, the orphan, the widow, the forgotten, the rejected, the proud, the hard-hearted, that together we grow together toward God.
When there are those outside the family, how can we celebrate in the house?
(The unwritten part of the Prodigal Sons story: The father can’t be in the party when there are those on the outside looking in with anger, jealousy, fear, division, confusion, hate, etc.)
Baptism is our entrance into the party of salvation.
Come on in, the Party is on!
Notes from UMC.org and GBOD.org
10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments were stationed to praise the Lord with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, according to the directions of King David of Israel; 11 and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted so loudly that the sound was heard far away. [NRSV]
Returning Home is Never the Same:
The experience of Ezra and the people coming back to Jerusalem from exile comes with the mixed blessing of building something new with the sorrow of what is no longer reality.
John Wesley opposed preaching outside to reach the poor and disconnected, but in doing so transforms the church and the world for Jesus Christ, The council of Bishops, after great study and prayer is putting the resources in vital congregations. Those left behind linger by their choice to live in the past, The commitment is to remember and acknowledge the loss of what we once were, while experimenting in building the new church. The Church of England stayed in the past and is empty. The Russian Orthodox Church has the liturgy but no connection with the people. In our life time, the church will become something new.
Who is our Leader, Who do we Follow?
Remember when Billy Graham was the iconic central figure of the protestant church. Who is next? One of the TV preachers? One of the book publishing authors? One of the political preachers? It is scary to not have the map. But if we follow the old ways we will not find the new Church.
Who Is Lost and Who is Found
It is not comfortable to be lost, but its worse to stay where we are and swap familiarity for faith One of the important questions to ask as a church: What the best day of Jackson United Methodist Church? If you say, some time in the past, you don’t think much of the present and have no hope for the future. If you say, the best day are ahead, then we don’t throw in the towel and we grow closer toward the Light of Jesus Christ. Looking backward, we are grateful and thankful for those who have paved the way before us, but the work of paving a new way is not over.
The Road Goes On, or Does it?
It continues. Where do we start? At the table: Jesus promises to meet us at the table as often as we gather in presence and memory. Remember and Eat. Learn from our past, and step out in faith in our future. Come to the table and let’s eat, weep and shout for joy!