Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Gospel Activities | Communion: Practicing Forgiveness and Reconciliation + March 10, 2018

How do we come fervently to participate in Communion with Jesus and those present like Jesus did with His disciples (Luke 22:15) and still does with us today?

Helpful links that relate to this message and liturgy include:

+ Evangelical, Sacramental, and Pentecostal 
Forgiving As We've Been Forgiven   
+ Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
+ Emmaus City Eucharist

Theosis: Church fathers’ way of talking about what the apostle Peter describes (2 Peter 1:4): He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature. Theosis does not mean human beings becoming divine in the same way that God is divine (eternal, infinite, omnipotent, all knowing, etc.). The Creator / creature distinction is still there. But … Jesus said in John 14:20, 23: In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you … If anyone loves me, he will keep My Word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 

  • St. Felicity (203 A.D.): Now I suffer what I suffer; then another will be in Me who will suffer for Me (Felicity participated in the agape meal and the Eucharist with Perpetua, Saturus and others before they were executed.).
  • St. Irenaeus (Smyrna/Izmir, Turkey, Asia / France, 200s): Incarnation paved the way and made possible our participation in God’s life, such now that we can be united with the incorruptible, immortal life of God.
  • St. Athanasius (North African, early 300s): Jesus became man that we might become divine.
  • St. Augustine (North African, late 300s): The Son of God came to share in our mortality so we can be happy by sharing in His immortality.  
  • St. Bernard of Clairvaux (French, 1100s A.D., beloved among Catholics and Protestant Reformers like Luther and Calvin): Union with Christ is not a marriage of equals, but a real spiritual marriage to be experience in this life by the kiss of the Holy Spirit. … Oh happy kiss, … the union of God and man. … this conjoining (or Holy Communion) of nature unites the human with the divine and makes peace between earth and heaven.
  • Henry Scougal (Scottish, Letter from 1667 A.D.): wrote to encourage a friend before he died at 28, Susannah Wesley shared with John and Charles who shared with Whitefield – “I never knew what true religion was till God sent me that) before start of 1st Great Awakening): Christianity consists in a union of the soul with God, real participation of the divine nature …Christ formed within us …” (The Life of God in the Soul of Man). 
  • William Gadsby (English Baptist, 1883 A.D., "The Feast"): … We eat this bread, we drink this wine, Come give Yourself to us. We know You’re here, that’s why we’ve come, to feast on You with love. … 

In the sacred meal, we actually meet Christ in real time. Holy Communion is the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation without which the Church cannot live.

Anamnesis: Not only does Jesus’ statement (‘Do this in remembrance of Me’) require a communal response we do together with Jesus, but remembrance is from anamnesis (repeat), meaning "to make real." Not only is Holy Communion a sacrament of Christ’s presence in the world, it is our prototype of discipleship from Him, through Him, and for Him. Jesus is saying and making disciples of as He continuously make His sacrifice real by being broken with us for He is in us to offer forgiveness to others who harm us. Obedience to Jesus’ command to participate in Holy Communion together is more than looking back; it’s a present, Spirit-fueled replication of His embodied sacrifice through us. We don’t simply remember the meal; we unite with Him and become more like Him through the meal.

In the prayer Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He emphasized the daily practice of forgiveness as a way of maintaining and sustaining relationships (Matthew 6:9-13). Just like food (i.e. Holy Communion), forgiveness sustains our lives in the community. Just as we cannot live without bread, we cannot fully live our life in communion with each other and with God without the ability to grant and receive forgiveness. + 
Celestin Musekara, Forgiving As We've Been Forgiven

Old Testament Scripture Reading | Psalm 27:7-14
New Testament Sermon Text Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:18-32

 Lord's Prayer | Praying for Jesus' Kingdom Impact in Us and in Worcester

Eucharist | Thanking God for Communion with Christ and His Church

Lenten Corporate Prayer of Confession and Assurance
Isaiah 6:5-8Daniel 9:4-19Nehemiah 1:5-10Luke 23:34

Call: O Lord, who has mercy on us all:
Response: Take away from us our sins,
and mercifully kindle in us
the fire of Your Holy Spirit.
Take away from us our hearts of stone,
and give us hearts of flesh.
Forgive us, O God.
Reconcile us with You and others.

Silent Personal Reflection and Confession

O Lord, graciously give us:
Response: A heart to love and adore You,
a heart to delight in You,
to follow and enjoy You,
for Christ's sake. Amen
+ St. Ambrose of Milan (339-397 A.D.)

Come As You Are
By David Crowder
2014 A.D.

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been.
Come broken hearted,
Let rescue begin.
Come find your mercy,
Oh sinners, come kneel.
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal.
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal.

So lay down your burdens,
Lay down your shame.
All who are broken,
Lift up your face.
Oh, wanderers come home.
You’re not too far.
So lay down your hurt,
Lay down your heart,
Come as you are.

There’s hope for the hopeless,
And all those who’ve strayed.
Come sit at the table.
Come taste the grace.
There’s rest for the weary,
Rest that endures.
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t cure.
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t cure.

There’s joy for the morning,
Oh, sinners be still.
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal.
Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal.

Jesus I Come
By William Sleeper, mini
ster of Summer St. Congregational Church, Worcester, MA
1887 A.D.

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my wanting and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of earth’s sorrows, into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress into jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy blessed will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair, into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Man of Sorrows
By Hillsong
2012 A.D.

Man of sorrows, Lamb of God,
By His own betrayed;
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid.

Silent as He stood accused,
Beaten mocked and scorned.
Bowing to the Father's will,
He took a crown of thorns.

Oh that rugged cross,
My salvation,
Where Your love poured out over me!
There You died my death,
Now I share Your life,
What a holy mystery!

Sent of heaven, God's own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree!

The Feast
By City Hymns
Original by William Gadsby
1838 A.D.

With wondering eyes, Lord we admire
The feast prepared by grace;
Come, Lord, and set our souls on fire,
And fill each heart with peace.
These emblems of Your precious love,
By faith may we receive.
And with a solemn pleasure prove,
We in Your name believe.

We eat this bread,
We drink this wine,
Come give Yourself to us.
We know You’re here,
That’s why we’ve come,
To feast on You with love.

No goodness of our own we bring;
We’re sinners vile and base;
Christ is our all;
Of Christ we sing,
And long to see His face.
O may we each with heart and tongue
Sing, “Worthy is the Lamb!”;
To Him alone the praise belongs,
And we’ll adore His name.

Just a Closer Walk with Thee
African American Spiritual
1800s A.D.

Just a closer walk with Thee, 
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, 
Daily walking close to Thee, 
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be. 

I am weak, but Thou art strong, 
Jesus, keep me from all wrong, 
I’ll be satisfied as long 
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee. 

Through this world of toil and snares, 
If I falter, Lord, who cares? 
Who with me my burden shares? 
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee. 

When my feeble life is o’er, 
Time for me will be no more, 
Guide me gently, safely o’er 
To Thy Kingdom's shore, to Thy shore.

Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 76
1563 A.D.

Q. What does it mean
to eat the crucified body of Christ
and to drink His shed blood?

A. First, to accept with a believing heart
all the suffering and the death of Christ,
and so receive
forgiveness of sins and life eternal.
Second, to be united more and more to
His sacred body through the Holy Spirit,
who lives both in Christ and in us.
Therefore, although Christ is in heaven
and we are on earth,
yet we are flesh of His flesh
and bone of His bones,
and we forever live and are governed
by one Spirit,
as the members of our body are
by one soul.

John 6:35, 40, 50-54, 55, 56;
1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 1:9-11, 3:21;
1 Corinthians 11:26; Colossians 3:1;
1 Corinthians 6:15, 17; Ephesians 5:29, 30;
1 John 4:13; John 6:56-58, 15:1-6;
Ephesians 4:15, 16; 1 John 3:24

Based on Matt. 4:1-11, Mark 1:9-15, Luke 4:1-13

Go now, and live in the death and life of your baptism,
even when you are led into wild and hard places.
With repentance and trust, give yourselves to God,
and with fasting and prayer,
strengthen yourselves against the ways of the tempter.
And may God our Father enfold you in tender and lasting love.
May Christ be beside you in times of struggle.
And may the Spirit guide you back to His way whenever you stray.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, His people, and His creation.

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