Monthly Archives: August 2018
Where Will We Find Ourselves?
Devotional Thought for the day:
11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to Me” g—this is the LORD’s declaration—“so that they might be My people for My fame, praise, and glory, h but they would not obey. Jeremiah 13:11 HCSB
We have to be candles,
hope and despair,
faith and doubt,
life and death,
all the opposites.
That is the disquieting place where people must always find us.
And if our life means anything,
if what we are goes beyond the monastery walls and
does some good,
it is that somehow,
by being here,
we help the world cope
with what it cannot understand.
We may talk about finding ourselves, or our search for meaning, but I am not always sure we are ready to find ourselves. Each generation has their search, whether it was the boomers in the 50’s and sixties, or the GenX’er, or now the Millenials. Eventually, the majority of the people will settle down into a life that isn’t truly satisfying. A life filled with turmoil, anxiety, uncertainty.
Lite I mentioned, I am not sure we are all ready to find ourselves.
Because the search will lead us into what Brodrick calls the “disquieting place”.
We live there, but we don’t want to find ourselves there, bouncing between optimism and pessimism, between joy and sorrow, in a place which is more often surreal than real.
And to be content there… in the midst of the disquiet, in the realm of the dysfunctional, in the place where balance isn’t found, that is when we truly find ourselves.
Because there, we learn to do what God desires, what God designed us to do.
To cling to Him like a pair of underwear!
Seriously, it is in that place where life spins us back and forth between the extremes that we find our only hope is clinging to God. It is in our relationship with Him that we can find rest and peace, it is in Him that the paradox of life can be put to rest.
In Him, the disquiet turns into a crescendo of praise.
And clinging to Him, we reach outside of ourselves and find that we can help the world cope with what it cannot understand.
It is as we cling to Him, ministry happens…..
So learn to realize the disquiet can be a blessed place as well, and when it isn’t, remember to cling to God like a pair of underwear clings to its owner.
William Brodrick (https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/ )
Who is Responsible for this Work?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. 28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Colossians 1:26-29 (NLT2)
1 There are many Christians who are persuaded that the Redemption will be completed in all environments of the world, and that there have to be some souls—they do not know which ones—who will contribute to carrying it out with Christ. But they think it will take centuries, many centuries. It would be an eternity if it were to take place at the rate of their self-giving. That was the way you yourself thought, until someone came to “wake you up”.
“Responsibility is something to be avoided. Evade it at all costs!”
It seems more and more this is the mission statement of the church. Not just in terms of man-made trauma, as people scatter, trying to avoid the blame game like kids playing tag. But in regards to the work of the church as well.
And we wonder why the church as a whole is in decline!
We all know the great commission, we know it is the responsibility of the church to disciple those who are saved. Yet we think its the pastor/priests responsibility. Or we think the pastors/priests should train those people up to do it, but no one will volunteer. Everyone avoiding responsibility, everyone pointing to someone else.
So the work goes undone, and we all shake our hands and wonder why…
How do we create in the church the attitude we see in Paul, who realizes this wonderful thought, Christ in you, which gives you the assurance of sharing in His glory eternally.
That people would know their share of this glory, that they would be free of the cruse of sin and enabled to do so, this was Paul’s struggle in life, one he threw himself into with all abandon, this was his reason for being here.
A reason that we, as the priesthood of all believers, have as well. To tell others about Christ, warning them and teaching them, that we may present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Jesus!
So it is time to wake up church, to realize this love that Christ has for us, that welcomes us, cleansed sinners, broken souls who are finding healing in Christ Jesus, and helping others who need to heal. We have to realize that this isn’t an obligation or a task… it is the glorious blessing God gives us, to see others made new!
Whether we help them teaching Sunday school, or praying for someone on the street corner, or offering them a cup of cold water, or simply inviting them to comse see Jesus love of them revealed.
And at the end of the day, may we each look back in awe at what Christ has done in our communities, through and with us! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 242-245). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Denial’s effect on the world…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 They have treated My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14 HCSB
993 You reason well … coldly: how many motives for abandoning the task! And some of them are apparently conclusive. I see without any doubt that you have reasons—but you are not right.
For decades the Catholic church has ignored a crisis in their midsts, and now many are trying to avoid the blame that their denial of the issues has caused. They are not the only ones, there are a few protestant mega-churches now learning the high cost of denial of the problems of sin and immorality
You see the high cost of denial as well, as churches that were once 10 or 15 times their present attendance are floundering, struggling not ot close. But for the decades in decline, denial was the passive strategy, or implementing programs that promised great success, but didn’t account for denial’s apathetic response.
I’ve seen it in personal relationships as well, from abusive relationships to neglect, from drug and alcohol addiction to work problems. We deny our problems, we present that all is at peace, and the pain and trauma results in our heart and soul being destroyed.
We have all the reasons to engage in denial, we can rationalize it out with the best of them. We can claim we are powerless, we can claim we can’t do better, we can find theologians and pastors who will enable our denial.
But the denial is like covering up an infection without neutralizing it. It will rot, and build up pressure underneath the surface. It will eventually have to be dealt with, but by the time it is, the results are even more damaging, the healing takes longer, significantly longer.
So how do we overcome the temptation to enter into denial?
First, we have to recognize it. We have to realize we are running away and turning our back on the problem.
Second, we have ot trust in God’s ability to sustain us, to make things work out for our best, even in the midst of the pain of dealing with the situation. That trust grows as we pray, as we spend time in deep conversation, seeking God’s care, getting to be familiar with Him, and knowing His will.
What happens then is what Luther often mentioned, when he explains prayer, noting that God would see His will worked out whether we pray or not, but that we pray that we know it comes in our lives.
We pray so we remember He is here, so we are assured of His love, and His active care. Knowing His presence, the anxiety of dealing with the problem fades. W can take on the issue head on, we can deal with the problem. We can even handle it with great tenderness, patience, and love.
And life finds healing, and revival, and hope.
Lord Jesus, help us not hide our problems and the major issues in our lives, but run with them to you. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2307-2309). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Washed by Water with the Word! A sermon based on Ephesians 5:21-33
A sermon from Concordia
Washed by Water with the Word:
Being placed in Christ’s care
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ result in your loving God, loving others, and letting yourself be loved by others.
Distracted by the object Lesson
I want you to look back at the epistle reading this morning.
I added the first verse, what is verse 21 of the chapter, to what the traditional reading is for today. I think it is necessary, as it sets the tone not just for what we have in today’s reading, but the relationships described in the next chapter. There the relationship between parents and children, and bosses and those who work for them are described in the same manner as the relationship between husband and wife in today’s reading.
I want us to read it together,
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
There is the key to every relationship you will ever be in, caring for one another to the extent that we care for them, and are cared for by them.
It’s quite a challenge!
Especially if you leave that verse out, and start the reading with, “For wives, this means submit to your husband as to the LORD!”
Without verse 21, the moment I read verse 22 I lose everyone. All the guys would remember is that I said women should submit, and nothing else. (And the stupid ones can’t wait to tell their wives what pastor said!) I lost the women because they are all thinking, “Oh my gosh, that is all my husband will have heard!” And both would spend the rest of the service thinking about that!
Okay, that’s a big generalization. Not all of you would be distracted and stop listening.
When we drop verse 21 is that we omit the reason we do these things.
Which is because first of all, we adore Christ, and how He has submitted in order to care for us. And until we are in awe of that, the rest of this stuff is meaningless.
But once we adore Him, as we realize what He has done for us. As we realize how He has loved us and calls us to love as we are loved.
Let’s look at how Christ submitted, which is described at the end of verse 25,
He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.
What a concept. Submission as seen in doing what the other person needs, what the person needs in their lives. In this case, in our case, what Christ did was give up His life for us, that we could become holy and clean!
I have mentioned before what holiness Is, and what it isn’t. It isn’t perfection or being nicer and sinning less than other people. Though those who live holy lives as a side effect may indeed sin less, that is a side effect.
Holiness is best described as being set apart for a very specific purpose. Everything has its place and purpose in life and using something for something other than what it is intended for, well, that causes things to break, and be shattered. For example, I can’t use Missy’s guitar to stand on to change a lightbulb or use Kay’s violin for swatting a fly, could I?
How it affects us…
In the same way, we’ve been created, and in Christ, recreated for one specific purpose. To be in a special relationship with God, as we are created and recreated to be His people, and He is the God who loves us.
That is why the cleansing is needed, to ready us for the day when we stand before God, free of all guilt and shame, free of all things that stop us from being His glorious people.
Christ submits to cause this in us, as we are washed by the water and the word. As we are baptized, united to His death and His Resurrection as both Romans 6 and Colossians 2 describes.
That is why Jesus was born, and why He lived, teaching and healing, and died and rose again, so that we would be freed from all the problems that sin causes, free to be in that relationship just soaking in the love of God as we share in His glory (Col. 1:26-28)
This is what it is all about, assuring us of the work of Christ in our lives. Linking people to Christ’s death and resurrection as He promised when we are born again in baptism.
And our response…
As He washes us in water and the word, changing our lives so completely that we begin to live as He did, more concerned about those we love and are called to love than we are concerned for ourselves.
This submission in reverence to Christ becomes our new nature, our new life. Often in ways, we don’t see, it just happens.
As we walk with Jesus, as we see His love and are united to Him, as we become one with Him.
This is who we are, the people of God, who reflect the glory of His peace into this broken world.
So my friends, remain in Him, experience His love, and dwell in His peace which goes beyond all understanding, as He keeps our hearts and minds in Him! AMEN!
The Secret to Longevity in Ministry
Devotional Thought of the day:
11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:11-14 (NLT2)
998 O blessed perseverance of the donkey that turns the waterwheel! Always the same pace. Always around the same circle. One day after another, every day the same. Without that, there would be no ripeness in the fruit, nor blossom in the orchard, nor scent of flowers in the garden. Carry this thought to your interior life.
999 And what is the secret of perseverance? Love. Fall in Love, and you will not leave him.
This weekend was extremely busy, a funeral on Saturday added to an already long day. Sunday included church, Sunday School, a meeting, and then another service, where we installed the new president of our district.
As I was there, I ran into a bunch of friends, including pastors that served for twice as long as my two decades in ministry, Even one who has served 55 years as a pastor. Another who has served in the mountain jungles of Papua New Guinea since 1972, translating the New Testament into three different languages.
As i shared some time with these brothers, I thought about the stories we hear, about 1500 pastors and priests a moth leaving the ministry, about clergy burnout and how often pastors flee or are fired from congregations.
And then today, in my readings, I come across these words in Colossians about patience and endurance. As I read the words of St Josemaria about perseverance as well, about how ministry is really being available for people day after day, meeting them in trauma, helping them remember that God is with them, or revealing His presence, which brings to them peace and healing.
The situations change, but the basic motion is the same. Encounter trauma after trauma, work with the break to see healing happen, even as Jesus heals us. Day in and day out, counting on God’s faithfulness to see us through.
Yet, even after all of our plodding, we see the effects. The beauty in a child that wants to be baptized, the joy in a child who wants to receive the Body and Blood of Christ and learns the things that make her desire even more. The smile on a man’s face when he receives communion after having to miss church for 4 weeks because of work. The work of pastors who gather together to pray for and with each other.
All these things happen because we keep our eyes on Jesus as we plod through our daily ministry. Because what happens is, our eyes on Jesus, we reflect His love to those as broken as we are. We reflect the power of mercy, as we live knowing Jesus has forgiven us, in order to unite us to God. These things happen, as we experience the love of God, and learn to adore Him, as He invites us to share in His glory.
For those who are shepherded by such men, pray for them, and encourage them to spend time contemplating God’s love for them.
For those who plod through ministry, Keeping looking to Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will use your plodding in ways you won’t believe!
And to all, find peace and rest in this fact: THE LORD IS WITH YOU!!!!!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2316-2321). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Soul Care… A Necessity for churches in our Day?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. 1 Thessalonians 5:13-15
Tenderness is not a virtue of the weak; on the contrary, it spells fortitude, attentiveness, compassion, openness to the other, in short, tenderness is the daughter of love.
If you minister to anyone, whether as a “professional” (pastor/priest, ministry director, worship facilitator) or as a volunteer (elder, deacon, altar guild, bible teacher etc) I want you to go back and read those words in red again.
Go ahead. Go back and read them.
One more time, please.
Sounds like a formidable task! I am not sure which of the tasks is the most challenging! Patience is tough, warning folks is often an invitation to pain. Then there is this, stopping people from repaying evil with evil. That might mean taking the damage intended yourself.
And this letter wasn’t written to pastors, but to the church. It is how we are to minister as a whole, to each other. And these things are challenging because they require great care and caution. They can’t be done with a velvet-gloved iron fist, but with tenderness, with discernment.
And it is what our broken society needs. It is what is relegated to a class or two in seminary, and rarely do we train our elders or Sunday school teachers in it. We by-pass this critical step of being a brother, of helping people to learn to love as Christ loved. For that is what soul care is, loving our neighbor, even loving our enemy.
It is the fulfillment of the law that happens as we are transformed into the image of Jesus.
We need to be there for each other, for the broken in our communities, for those who are questioning the world and all there is in it. We need to be there when we are broken when we are hurting when we want to give up. When our souls are thirsty.
That is what the body of Christ does for each other.
Who is God calling for your to treat tenderly today? WHo will you minister to tomorrow, that needs God’s mercy and love?
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 274). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
10 years, 20 years, some thoughts about God’s work in and through us.
Devotional thought of the Day:
61 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on me because the LORD has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, 3 to provide for those who mourn in •Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3 HCSB
This is important:
the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love.
Today is the 10th anniversary of my installation as the senior pastor of the Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, Ca. This month is the 20th anniversary of my going from part-time ministry as a jail chaplain and preaching during vacations and when churches were looking for a new pastor, as I became the pastor of First Christian Church of Yucca Valley, Ca.
As these anniversaries approached, other things have happened that have made me think about ministry, of what I’ve seen God do in these places I have served. It’s been an interesting road, with lots of laughter and probably more tears with people I grew to love, that I was sent to care for.
The passage in red primarily applies to Jesus, and a little less to Isaiah. Yet it is what Paul imitated of Jesus, what he encourages the entire church to imitate in 1 Corinthians 11. We are to bring God’s healing, revealing His love and mercy, and the presence of the Holy Spirit to people that are brokenhearted, to free those who are oppressed, to comfort those who mourn.
It’s not been easy. Nor has it always been successful. There is heartache when people would rather deal with the consequences of sin, and the guilt and shame that oppress them. We mourn because of their sin, we mourn as others would rather condemn them than seek to reconcile them back to God. There are the times where we don’t have the words that we would think are needed to comfort those who grieve.
And yet, trusting Him, the church and those who serve it plod on. We might be distracted for a moment, but by the Spirit’s call, we re-focus again, as we go where God wants us to be, as He guides us to serve those who need His love.
It is bearing such a burden, as I think about the baptisms, the funerals, the sorrow and grief, tears and joy that Pope Francis’s words gave me comfort this morning. We have to find the courage to trust in His mercy, in His patience, to look for our sanctuary, which is found in His ever-presence. That is where we are safe, that is where we find peace and find healing for our own brokenness.
But it takes courage, and trust to dwell there. For we have to lay aside our sorrow and grief, our own guilt and shame, our own “wisdom” and often our own sense of self-preservation. We have to learn to trust God, to be able to cry out, Lord, we trust you, help us when we don’t.
Ultimately, the ministry of the priesthood of all believers comes down to these simple things, to help people know the cleansing, comforting, healing merciful presence of God. When we do this, it is amazing…. when we struggle, we need to trust God that He will fulfill the work that has begun.
He will.. for He has.
For those who have trusted God to speak through me, thank you. I hope you have grown in experiencing His love. May we all see Him at work in all of us in the years and decades to come.
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 273). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Who is this “we”?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
No foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD should say, “The LORD will exclude me from His people”; and the eunuch should not say, “Look, I am a dried-up tree.” 4 For the LORD says this: “For the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold firmly to My covenant, 5 I will give them, in My house and within My walls, a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off.
6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD minister to Him, love the name of •Yahweh and become His servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold firmly to My covenant— 7 I will bring them to My holy mountain and let them rejoice in My house of prayer. Their •burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Is 56:3-7 HCSB
39 At this point all Christian hearts may well ponder God’s inexpressible kindness in that he does not immediately cast this corrupted, perverted, and sinful dough into hell-fire, but out of it he makes and fashions our present human nature, which is so miserably corrupted by sin, in order that through his beloved Son he might cleanse it from sin, sanctify it, and save it.
There is a part of me that rejoices when I read the words from the Prophet Isaiah in red above. What a wonderful vision he casts for the people of God! That the church,( and the temple back then) would be a house of prayer for all nations, for everyone.
I know that before the throne such a crowd will assemble, as the Book of Revelation teaches us. I rejoice to see the beginnings of that, where all people are welcome into God’s house to pray, to have revealed to them His love and mercy. To welcome those God brings into His presence, and therefore, our presence.
To realize the blessing of what out Lutheran forefathers described in blue above. To ponder God’s inexpressible kindness, His amazing indescribable love. To know the joy that Isaiah described as the people are drawn to prayer. As we are drawn to prayer.
Drawn together, from every nation, tribe language. This is who we are, it is whom God has planned for us to be.
The Lord and His people. Our heavenly Father and His family.
God with us.
May you rejoice in all God provides to His people, and if you don’t know what that is, let me know! I will help you explore all His promises for you!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 515). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Without This… Ministry is Impossible
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:2-7 (NLT2)
The power of love is a service that resurrects what is destroyed, no matter how much it is so. Its unattainable and unquestionable source is God’s loving fatherhood/motherhood.
951 To be in charge of an apostolic undertaking means being ready to suffer everything, from everybody, with infinite charity.
We live in a broken world, and before I arrived at work today, there was proof, News from my hometown, from the very street I grew up on, was devastating. Been in the office for a little bit, and the challenges people are facing continue to mount.
Some of the trauma is self-inflicted, the problems of sins committed. Others are medical or simply nature. But the trauma levels climb.
And in the back of my mind, the words from 1 Corinthians 13 echo, Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
And the words of St Josemaria and Pope Francis reinforce the echo. First that the only hope in the face of brokenness and destruction is the power of God’s love. And that to be sent by God to minister, whether to the mission field, a broken church or to meet a friend for lunch requires this love, this charity (charity and love are synonyms)
Ministry requires loving people in the middle of incredible brokenness. And that love will require sacrifice, it will require being there for the people, in the midst of their pain, sharing it, crying with them, laughing with them, all with the purpose of revealing the love of God to them.
We can’t do that unless we are there.
But for us to be able to love, to be devoted to them as we care and share in their lives takes something we do not have naturally. Infinite love, infinite charity. FOr that only comes to us, and eaves through our lives as we are connected to Christ. As we look to Him and are in awe of His love.
It is that relationship that enables us to minister to our friends, our neighbors, our family, to others in our churches. For all need to know His love for them, for us all. And in knowing that, we are freed to love them.
That is how it happens.
Let it happen, my friends, bask in His love. AMEN!
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 271). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2206-2207). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Chew on This! A sermon on John 6:51-59
Chew on This
† IHS †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ enable you to contemplate the love you experience, as you eat Christ’s body and drink His blood, and remain in Him!
Bothered by an Attitude
The disciples of Jesus today had an attitude and said something I just can’t believe. It bothers me a ton, as a pastor and as a fellow disciple.
This is what they said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”
And a moment later, they did something that shouldn’t just bother us, it should bring us to tears.
But there is Jesus, who has fed them, healed them, taught them in such a manner that they are in awe, and they don’t want to listen to Him. It is too hard to understand, it doesn’t make sense to them.
Even though it promises life, and life eternal. The life lived in joy in the promise of God. Rather than simply giving up trying to understand, rather than refusing to accept Jesus teaching that He was the Bread of Life, they needed to do something…
They needed to chew on what He told them about Himself.
just like we do.
They left the Building… would we?
They didn’t. And not only did they not accept it, in verse 66 they did something even worse.
They walked away.
They abandoned the man they thought was at least a prophet, and very probably, the long-awaited Messiah, the hope, and savior of God’s people.
They couldn’t accept what He said, so they gave up.
They walked away from the free food, from the healings, from seeing miracles happen.
They walked away because they didn’t understand, they couldn’t accept it. Despite the evidence, despite the miracles, the teaching, the food
They walked away.
But many of us do as well.
We don’t like what God reveals to us in scripture.
The simple lessons about what is right and wrong, the lessons about loving your neighbors, and your enemies, the lessons about the fact that we all have sinned, or how the church and the family should be arranged around mutual submission as we will hear in next week’s lessons.
We don’t understand, we think we can never accept it. Some leave. Others just ignore the parts that make them uncomfortable or say that it may have been that way in Jesus’ day, but its changed now….
And we walk away, ignoring the blessing.
In the case of Jesus talking about eating His body and drinking His blood, we walk away from the promise of eternal life.
We need to stop ignoring what we don’t understand, we need to stop giving up on what is hard to accept and just chew on what God gives us, what He reveals to us for a while.
Chewing on the Words that give life…eternal life.
I’ve used the word “chew” intentionally during this sermon, even as I titled the sermon “chew on this for a reason.
I am not talking just about thinking about and deeply meditating on the Lord’s Supper and what it means. Though doing that is a very healthy exercise, especially when you are struggling life. For the Lord’s Body and Blood, what he calls true food and true drink, reveal a lot about His love for you. But that is not what is talked about here.
Where I got the word “chew” is from the Greek. Up until verse 53, when Jesus talked about eating the Bread of life, eating His Body, he used a generic term for eat. (Phage) But in verse 53, he changes the word to another Greek word, the to chew or chomp down on what is in your mouth. (trogon)
Jesus isn’t just talking about understanding the imagery of the Lord’s supper, he is talking about participating in the act of remembering Him, eating His body and drinking His blood, in and under the bread and wine. Communion is not just an intellectual or heartfelt thought, it is receiving these gifts, and trusting what Jesus says they are.
His body, His blood, given and shed for you, given to help you know your sins are forgiven. Given to help you know you are in a relationship, a relationship defined by the covenant.
it is like our benediction for the service, turn a couple of pages over to it. These last words of the service,
May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is for you! May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.
Here, as we receive the bread, as we drink the wine, we experience the love of God, the love of God that is far beyond anything we can understand. Chewing on this is not about in-depth thought, it is about the awe of communing with God, experiencing His love. You can’t comprehend it all.
And that’s okay… for knowing you are loved, knowing the width and length, the height and depth of His love for you are more than our brains can process. This time at the altar, this time of communion with God is beyond words, for we know His love, and accept it.
We know it in our heart and in our soul, as Christ makes us one with Him. Not in a magical way, but in a holy sacramental way. In a way, we experience that unity, as we trust Him at His word, and come and share in His feast. As we eat His body, as we drink His blood, and find that we remain in Him, that we have a place with God. A place made secure for our heart and mind, by Jesus himself. AMEN!