Posts Tagged "Communion Series"

Sermon August 9: Outward, Visible Sign of an Inward, Spiritual Grace

Posted by on Aug 9, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 9: Outward, Visible Sign of an Inward, Spiritual Grace Faith United Methodist Church August 9, 2015 11th Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth E. Atwood Scripture: John 6: 35, 41-51 Prayer of Illumination: Beyond the manna in the wilderness you feed us, Lord, on constancy and presence, all engaging us and filling us with joy. In life we find you here, our Lord. As life, we yearn to find our fill in you. Become for us this hour, our Lord, the life that fills us in all joy. ~ Rev. William Flewelling Sermon:              Outward, Visible Sign of an Inward, Spiritual Grace The length of the sermon today is up to you! You see, I’m going to be asking you to share with me in giving the message. What we are talking about today is Communion as a Sacrament. In the United Methodist Church we have two Sacraments ~ Holy Communion and Baptism. The dictionary definition of Sacrament is, “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace.” This is the definition we teach our Confirmation youth each year. We understand baptism is a Sacrament because Jesus, himself, submitted to baptism by John. Then, as he was getting ready to ascend into heaven Jesus told the disciples, “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” The ritual of Holy Communion originates in Jesus sharing the Passover meal with his disciples at the Last Supper and comes to us with similar directives. As the Gospel of Luke describes it, Jesus, “… took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” In both cases we are given instructions to follow: go and baptize, do this in remembrance of me. The word solemn is included in the definition of Sacrament, “…one of the solemn Christian rites.” Now solemn does have to mean somber, right? Yet sometimes we Christians get that mixed up. My first memory of Communion was at my childhood church. Back then (in the olden days) we only had Communion quarterly ~ four times a year. My mom was assisting with the service in some way so we were there early, as things were getting set up. Someone accidently bumped the Communion Table (it wasn’t built in like ours) and the chalice fell, spilling grape juice all over the floor. While it was simply a mishap, and no real harm was done (they didn’t have brand new carpet), everyone reacted as if it were the worst thing in the world, at least in my six-year-old perception. For quite a while after that I was scared of Communion. I was afraid of doing it wrong, of spilling my juice, of making God mad at me. It took me a while to experience the joy of sharing Holy Communion. The definition I like best for the word ‘solemn’ is, “characterized with deep sincerity.” One can be deeply sincere with joy and gratitude. Solemn doesn’t have to mean dour or stern. The more difficult thing to understand in the definition of Sacrament is how it can be an ‘outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.’ Okay, we get the visible part, right? We have the bread. We...

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Sermon August 2: Spiritual Food

Posted by on Aug 2, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon August 2: Spiritual Food Faith United Methodist Church August 2, 2015 Tenth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth E. Atwood   Scripture: John 6:24-35 Prayer of Illumination: It is through each one of us that your love and the fellowship of your Holy Spirit are made known. It is through the Word that we come to understand God’s purpose more fully. Let us open our ears to what God is speaking to us this day. Amen. Sermon:  Spiritual Food      I don’t know about you, but I’m starving! Are you hungry this morning? It looks like Jay and Carole prepared something for our fellowship time, and I can’t wait. Part of me wants to skip over the sermon and get to the good stuff! What do you think? Breakfast was quite a long time ago ~ about 5:30 for me. I usually have a mug of decaf and a mid-morning snack around this time, but Sunday throws my schedule all off. And talking about food just makes it worse, right? So, I am feeling a little hungry, or ‘peckish’ as my grandmother would say. But I am not starving. I’ve never truly been starving in my life. Even if I didn’t know exactly where it was coming from, I’ve never had to worry about my next meal. And, for that, I am thankful. But, even so, I spend a lot of time thinking about food. Buying it. Cooking it. Eating it. And I like variety, as most of us do. Gary can eat the same meal for days (left-overs like we talked about last week), but I like to mix things up a little bit. Back in the 90’s I visited England as a poor college student traveling with other poor college students. We decided to put our money toward transportation and sightseeing and go cheap on the food. After several weeks of Ramen Noodles (brought from home in our suitcases) and grilled cheese sandwiches, I was ready for… I needed…something…. else. I actually lost weight during that trip. Just to prove to you how desperate I was, during the trip home the in-flight meal on British Airways seemed like the best food I had ever tasted. In our Gospel lesson Jesus recalled an event from his own faith tradition ~ Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert. Freed from slavery in Egypt and traveling with only what they could carry, they had nothing to eat. With their stomachs growling, suddenly Egypt didn’t seem like such a bad place. They complained, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread…” Instead they were free, but starving to death. They began to wonder if the trade-off was worth it. It’s not likely that any of us have faced starvation, but have you ever been really, really hungry? What does it feel like? When I was serving in Connecticut I participated in the 30 Hour Famine. I knew it was going to be tough, but I didn’t realize how much the lack of food would affect me intellectually and emotionally. By the end of our time, my patience was shot and it was difficult to remember the simplest little things. The experience gave me a greater appreciation for food and, hopefully, a greater compassion for those who struggle for it. Every day, across the world, 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes – one child every five seconds. Statistics like this should make me think twice before I look in the refrigerator and complain that I...

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Sermon July 26: Love Feast

Posted by on Aug 1, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon July 26: Love Feast Faith United Methodist Church July 26, 2015 Ninth Sunday after Pentecost Rev. Kristabeth E. Atwood Scripture: John 6:1-21 Sermon:  Love Feast Pastors are entrusted with ordering the lives if their congregations ~ in sacraments, in preaching the word and overseeing the administration of the church. The route word of ordination is ‘order,’ coming from the Latin ordinacioun. Yet this is a little misleading. No matter how ‘orderly’ one tries to be new pastors soon learn that church life is messy because church life involves, well…. people. And we don’t know anything that Jesus doesn’t already know. ‘Orderly’ would not be how we would describe the scene in our Gospel lesson this morning. In fact, the word ‘disorderly’ would likely be the best description. We know the story; it is one that is familiar to us. Jesus and the disciples were seeking out some well-deserved rest. They had been healing and teaching and were probably exhausted. So they set off across the sea, only to find that a large crowd was following them and was not going to leave them alone. Five thousand people, we are told. This was no small group. And the crowd marched right up the mountain to where Jesus sat with the disciples. These were people who had heard about Jesus, who were hoping to find in Jesus something they had not found anywhere else, in anyone else. Healing for their diseases. Peace for their souls. Hope for their lives. Food for their hunger. United Methodist speaker, Rev. Grace Imathiu described the crowd this way, “Following hard after Jesus and here they come scrambling up the mountain; men, women, children, young, old, middle aged, healthy, the sick, the lonely, the confused, the ones with addictions of various kinds…all of them climbing up the mountain to be with Jesus.” And not only did the people come scrambling up the mountain, full of need and expectation, just when Jesus was hoping to get some well deserved rest, but they came right at dinner time. Now, there are two things that get on my nerves… unruly crowds and uninvited dinner guests. But Jesus takes it all in stride. Turning to Philip, he asks, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip immediately feels the weight of that question right where it hurts the most… in the wallet. Andrew, overhearing the question, apologetically points to a young boy who is willing to share a few meager barely loves and a couple of fish. But Jesus, undeterred, tells his disciples, “Make the people sit down.” And this is where the story turns. I can almost hear the noisy crowd quieting, anticipation growing. The Gospel tells us, “Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.” Jesus broke the bread and divided the fish. The crowd ate their fill, and found there were even leftovers to be gathered up, twelve baskets full. Eating together is a powerful symbol. It seems to me that Jesus’ actions were saying that there is no one outside the kingdom of God. No one should go home hungry. There is enough food, enough hope, enough love to go around. William Loader explains it this way: “The point is that Jesus defines his own ministry and ours ….. in terms of spreading love and compassion.” They were filled and, for a moment, they were...

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