Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; Face2Faith with Sacraments; 4-August-2013

Scriptures for this Sunday: 1 Cor 11:23-33; Acts 2:38-47; Luke 3:21-22; Luke 22:14-20   –  NIV2010

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These days there are many adjectives associated with the word “Christian.” To give you an example, when somebody tells me that they are a Christian I may hear something like, “I am a progressive Christian.” I may hear adjectives like “evangelical,” or “conservative,” or “liberal,” or “born again,” or “theologically conservative with a liberal social interpretation.”

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All these adjectives stem from the fact that the Bible is a complicated, nuanced and wonderfully complex COLLECTION of ancient scrolls that record understandings (plural) of God that have stood the test of time and that were transmitted through generations until they reached you and me.

We saw a glimpse of that during worship last week when we talked about Heaven and the afterlife. A question was raised about how we reconcile the reading from John 5:28-29 with the reading from Luke 23:43.

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The reading from John 5:28-29 quotes Jesus saying, “… a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his [God’s] voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

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Luke 23:43 quotes Jesus saying, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Both are direct quotes from Jesus. To make things more complicated, punctuation was not invented until sometime in the Middle Ages. The original Greek manuscripts were written in BIG letters with no spacing and no punctuation.

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Example: GODISNOWHERE. Does it say “God is now here” or “God is nowhere?”

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Does Luke 23:43 quote Jesus saying, “Truly I tell you [COMMA] today you will be with me in paradise” or does it quote Jesus saying, “Truly I tell you today [COMMA] you will be with me in paradise?”

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Before we go on, let me tell you that most experts in ancient languages agree on placing a comma BEFORE the word today, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” That is where most modern translations put the punctuation.

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The point I am trying to make is that adjectives that are usually associated with the word “Christian” these days (conservative, liberal, born-again, progressive, theologically conservative with liberal social interpretation) stem from the nuances and complexity of the Bible itself.

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The Bible is a wonderfully complicated, nuanced and complex COLLECTION of ancient scrolls that record understandings (plural) of God that have stood the test of time and that were transmitted through generations until they reached you and me.

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In 2 Timothy 3:16-16 we hear:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Because our faith is rooted in our relationship with God, and because we gain our first understandings of God based on the stories and truths that are gleaned from the Bible, all of us have complex and nuanced reasons for why we have faith and how we live our faith and devotion to God. Add to this the reality that our culture drowns our very souls in a cacophony of materialistic noise and the result is that we are no longer challenged to think about our faith and our place in God’s creation. We have faith, we just don’t think about it much. Instead we try to fit our infinite God into our finite brains. Quite often we do that by trying to define something that is close to being undefinable: that is why different catechesis were developed and written. Those are our feeble attempts to fit an infinite God into our finite brains.

{Illustration}

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Because of all that Jesus established the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. Definitions and adjectives tend to separate us. Definitions and adjectives lead to arguments. On the other hand, Sacraments remind us that there is only one baptism, there is only one loaf and there is only one cup that all of us share.

Something is Sacramental when it helps us to evoke the sense of holy around us. When we gather for worship we acknowledge and share our experience of holy around us. Sacraments are liturgies and rituals that we engage, during which we remind ourselves of the foundational stories of our faith.

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Baptism is a sacrament that happens in our lives only once. We are baptized Christian, not Methodist, or Lutheran, or Catholic. Ideally the Sacrament of the Holy Baptism will lead to a certain life style. Our morning prayer: “Loving and Gracious God! As I enter these waters to bathe I remember my baptism and I am grateful. Wash me by your grace, fill me with your spirit, renew my soul! I pray that I may live as your child today and always and honor you in all that I do. Amen.” Baptism initiates and/or seals our intimate relationship with God. Baptism reminds us that we are a community because during the event of Baptism God makes a commitment to the person being baptized, the person being baptized makes a commitment to God and to the community in which baptism takes place, the community makes a commitment to nurture the person being baptized in his or her Christian journey. Baptism happens in the context of the community.

{Illustration}

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The second sacrament that we celebrate is the Sacrament of the Holy Communion. While Baptism is a once in a life time event, the Sacrament of the Holy Communion is a repeatable event. We gather together to remember Jesus’ life and the story of our salvation; we gather together to put our differences aside and to remember that no community is self-reliant; we gather together to remember that we do not live in a vacuum – we have neighbors; we gather together to honor God and to pray for ourselves and our neighbors; we gather together to ask God to bless our lives and to make symbolic bread and juice to be the body and blood of Jesus so that we may be for the world the body of Jesus purified by his blood and sent forth to be God’s ambassadors (Matthew 28:16-20).

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A couple of days ago Miriam G. said, and I quote, “… we mature with a great deal of wisdom.” That is what Sacraments help us to do, to mature with a great deal of wisdom because they impart in us the wonderful knowledge that we live in a world redeemed by God’s love and because they help us to gain a deeper and deeper understanding of our God and God’s world that we live in. Sacraments bring God’s Love and Grace to us.

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Richard, the Bishop of Chichester in mid-13th century prayed: “Most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother [Jesus Christ]! May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day [of our lives]. Amen.” Sacraments help us to do that.

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In Philippians 2:5 Paul wrote: “In your relationships … have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” Sacraments remind us about what God has done in our lives and help us to see the world through the eyes of God.

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1 Corinthians 13:4-13 NIV 2010

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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Micah 6:8 NIV2010

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

{Transition to the Sacrament of the Holy Communion}

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4 responses to “Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; Face2Faith with Sacraments; 4-August-2013

  1. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; Face2Faith with the Devil; 11-August-2013 | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  2. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; Face2Faith with the Devil; 11-August-2013 | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

  3. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 22-September-2013 | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  4. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 22-September-2013 | Christ United Methodist Church in Chestertown, MD

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