Season of Pentecost Sept-Oct 2018

September 2    15th Sunday of Pentecost, Communion

Scriptures: John 6:56-69             Theme: The Body of Christ for the Body of Christ

Thoughts: Jesus is misunderstood even by his own disciples about eating his body and drinking his blood. It is a matter of the spirit not of the flesh.  As UM’s we do not believe that the bread and wine (juice) are transfigured into real flesh and blood, bet that the bread and wine are the real presence of Christ in the faith of the community.  Even in the time of Paul, just 20-30 years after the death of Christ, the Church is already struggling with what to do with communion.  In the Corinthian Church, the Lord’s Supper is reflecting the divisions in the Church.  It had become a ‘pot luck’ supper with the rich feasting and the poor arriving with and receiving nothing.  This practice is disrupting the fragile unity of the Body of Christ.  Paul reprimands them to taking Communion unworthily.  It is not about sin in one’s life disqualifying them from partaking but about the unity of the Church.

September 9    The 16th Sunday of Pentecost

Scriptures:  Mark 7:24-37                        Theme: The Tired Jesus

Thoughts: We see a different side of Jesus in these two short stories.  Jesus seems down right irritable in the first story.  In Matthew, we see the same irritability, but after the healing he turns to the disciples and says, “I have not seen such faith in all of Israel.”  Jesus is tired.  This is why he has gone to a gentile region.  He wants to get away and rest, but the crowds find him.  The same tiredness shows up in the next story.  The deaf man is brought to him and he took him aside, looked to heaven ‘and sighed’.  Why did he sigh, and why did he spit?  I think he was tired.  So, why bring all this up?  Do you ever have to push through irritability and tiredness to do what has to be done?  So did Jesus; so does the Church.  As the Body of Christ we are called upon to do so much, conduct services every week without fail, serve the poor, feed the hungry, care for the sick and dying and grieving, teach the children, prepare and send the servants.  But even when we get tired and sometimes irritable we do the work.  We may sigh, but it gets done.  Good job, tired servants.  “come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.”

September 16  The 17th Sunday of Pentecost

Scriptures: Mark 8:27-38                        Theme:  The Faith of the Disciple

 

Thoughts: What does it mean to have the faith of a disciple.  In another place Jesus tells the disciples that with faith the size of a mustard seed disciples will be able to move mountains.  Throughout the Gospel of Mark Jesus is trying to give the disciples the power he has to proclaim the Gospel, confront evil, and heal the broken.  They cannot do with little faith.  They/we can only do with BIG faith.  If we are going to do the works of Jesus, we have to have the faith of Jesus.  Jesus talks of taking up our cross and following him.  The cross is not a hardship or a malady.  The cross was the destiny of Jesus.  The destiny of the Church, the gathering of the disciples of Christ, is to do the work of Jesus, and works and faith go hand in hand.

 

September 23  The 18th Sunday of Pentecost

Scriptures: Mark 9:14-29             Theme: I Believe; Help My Unbelief!

Thoughts: Alright, we’ve heard it many times now, we are to do the work of Christ: proclaim, confront, heal.  We’ve also heard that it takes faith; we can’t do the work without it.  So, why is it so hard?  We are not unlike the disciples in this story.  We pray, we believe, we work and yet we can’t seem to do what Jesus asks us to do.  I know it’s frustrating; I’m frustrated.  But here it is, we are useless without the presence of Jesus.  Without him we cannot do the work.  The Holy Spirit is the power and presence of Christ.  This is why Jesus breathed on the disciples in John 20 to give them the Spirit, and why Jesus told us he would be with us always in Matthew 28.  It is not about us; it is all about the power of Christ in us.  And that presence comes only through prayer.

 

September 30  The 19th Sunday of Pentecost, 5th Sunday One Worship

Scriptures:  Mark 9:33-48                          Theme: What’s in for Me?

Thoughts: Christianity is only 10% about saving your soul for heaven, the other 90% is about living life for others here on earth until heaven.  Oh, how I wish we could get that one thing.  Jesus wants us, his disciples, to know that if want to save our keesters from hell we need to live our lives for others.  This is not ‘works righteousness’ it is the assurance that when we give our lives to Christ the deal is done, we have inherited the Kingdom.  Now we need to be about the work of the kingdom. In the above story Jesus is telling his disciples that even eliminating sin from our lives is for the children.  We are forgiven, but if we lead another astray it is we who are in jeopardy.  We are saved; Halleluiah! Now, live as if the Spirit lives in you and works through you.

October 7        20th Sunday after Pentecost, World Communion Sunday, Special Offering

Scriptures: Mk 10:2-16     Theme: Kingdom Living and Marriage

 

Thoughts:  God does not want us to live in bad marriages.  Jesus and Paul want us to live out our faith even in our most intimate relationships. A disciple of Christ is a servant.  As a servant in marriage we are mutually submissive.  A disciple loves sacrificially (agape).  In marriage we love not only romantically; we love sacrificially.  A disciple commits wholeheartedly and lives faithfully.  In marriage we commit for a lifetime and live the faith in the family.  Marriage is a covenant, and when one partner breaks the covenant, divorce can be the result.  But we also need to remember that divorce is not the unforgivable sin.

 

October 14      21st Sunday after Pentecost

Scriptures: Mk 10:17-31              Theme:  Threading a Needle

Thoughts:  In 1st century Judaism to be rich and healthy was to be blessed; to be poor and infirm or widowed or orphaned was to be cursed in some way.  For the disciples it is quite confusing for a rich man who is sincerely inquiring about salvation to be rejected by Jesus in such a way.  He is obviously blessed.  But Jesus sees into the man’s heart and knows that he is unable to let go of the possessions in order for God and God’s Kingdom to come first.  It is significant that this story comes after Jesus tells the disciples that, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”  The question then comes to 21st century American Christians, “Can you thread a needle with a camel?”

 

October 21      22nd Sunday after Pentecost,    Theme: Servant Leadership

Thoughts:  Here Jesus sums it all up for us.  He came to serve, therefore, if we really want to follow him, we too must serve.  Greatness only comes to the servant in the Kingdom of God.  If we want to lead in the Church, the community, in the family, servanthood is the way.

October 28      23rd Sunday after Pentecost

November 4    All Saints Sunday; Communion

Scriptures: Rev. 21:1-6                Theme:  Death is Swallowed Up in Victory!

Thoughts:  All Saints Day was started as Christianity moved into northern Europe in the earliest years of the middle ages.  It started to counter the day in late Fall when cultic practices of warding off the spirits of the dead made the people afraid of the spirits of their loved ones passed.  All Saints Day is a celebration of the passing of death itself by the power of the Christ of Resurrection and the passing of our loved ones from life into life eternal.  We celebrate the passing of our Church members and loved ones into Glory by lighting candles and ringing bells.  It is truly a great day.