Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pentecost "Pro Ecclesia" Service

The following are my remarks from the ecumenical Pentecost "Pro Ecclesia" Service at First Pres., Morehead. I referenced article 8 of the confession, which I have reprinted below. The entire confession can be found in the archives in June 2011. VIII. Obedience of the Church "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6) In the Baptismal Covenant, church members promise to: renounce and resist evil in this world, confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, be faithful to Christ's universal Church, be loyal to Christ in a particular church (denomination or communion), and participate actively in a congregation. (Most churches have baptismal vows that are similar to the above.) We believe that faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, clergy and laity, are found in joyful obedience to Christ, in the Holy Spirit's power, through the church's Baptismal Covenant. A disciple's relationship with Jesus Christ is lived out in a covenantal relationship in the Body of Christ, the church. We reject the assumption that Christian discipleship is basically disconnected from the church, practically devoid of discipline, and fundamentally shaped by individual preferences. TEXT: Heb. 10:23-26. There was an incident that occurred last year or the year before that got a lot of press and attention. A woman was denied Communion at her mother’s funeral. You may have heard about it, and hearing about it now may cause different reactions among you depending on whether or not you come from a tradition that celebrates and open or closed table. This Church that this woman’s mother belonged to has very clear Communion guidelines. And the daughter was not ignorant of these guidelines. Still, it got a lot of attention and debate. After all, no one likes being excluded. There was a time when practices such as Excommunication were a big deal. Excommunication was a horrible word, a horrific consequence. No one wanted to be excommunicated. One who was in the Church did not want to be put out of it. Paul talks in his letters about appropriate times to remove someone from the church. If someone will not heed church discipline and continues to live in rebellion that poisons the Church, then there comes a time to remove such a person from the Church so that the person might come to a point of repentance before God and restoration to the Church. Yet there is a phenomenon today whereby people who claim to be believers choose for themselves not to be part of the church. It is a phenomenon which I call “self-excommunication”. Many people who claim to be followers of Jesus are choosing to put themselves outside of the Church by not participating in the life of the Body. They choose not to participate in the Sacraments and in Christian fellowship. In fact, a few months ago there was a Newsweek cover article in which the author was one of those who proposed we not only do away with church and religion, but even most of the New Testament, picking only the words of Jesus. He claims that we can follow Jesus apart from the Church. We know the “Me and Jesus” concept has been around for many years. The author of the Newsweek article uses Thomas Jefferson as an example. We know this idea gained much popularity in the late 1960’s with the early Jesus movement. But it is wrong thinking. Discipleship of Jesus apart from the Church really isn’t an option given to us in Scripture. Jesus, in His high priestly prayer in John 17, prays that we would be one as He and the Father are one, and He goes on to ask that we would be in them (that is, united with the Father and Son, which we are through the Holy Spirit). Paul says that we are members of one body. We can’t say to the other members that we don’t need them and they don’t need us. A little toe cannot be a whole body, and a body without a leg is disabled. In our baptism, we are made part of the church, whether we like it or not! Jesus created a Body. He died to redeem His Bride, not an individual, but the Church. And nowhere else but in the US do we think of ourselves so individualistically. Furthermore, the letter of I John says this: READ I John 2:9-11, 4:20-21. Now granted, we know that there were no church buildings for the first 400 years of Christianity, but don’t think believers weren’t organized. They met together in homes and other places. They had networks and knew how to find one another. They shared common teaching through letters and teaching elders, who went from church to church. And a sign of participation in, identification with, and commitment to the Church was corporate worship. We need to worship together. Yes, we can worship Jesus alone in the woods, but it is not the same as corporate worship. And the small groups of believers in a geographical area called themselves a church not many churches, but the Church. To say, “I don’t need Church” is dangerous. Yes, we can be unhappy and dissatisfied with the corruption and impurity we see in the Church, but it isn’t okay to bail on her. If we want the Church to change, then we have to be involved. In his song “The Church” Derek Webb sings from the perspective of Jesus. He uses the sacramental images—hearing the sound of the water, tasting the flesh and blood, and in these things, “You will know that you are not alone. [For] I haven’t come for only you, but My people to pursue. You cannot care for Me with no regard for Her; if you love Me, you will love the Church.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The True Source of Power, Acts 19:11-20

To listen to this message click here. I added the Scripture reading to the recording this time. This sermon was named "Misplaced Power" in the bulletin, but in writing it, I wanted to focus more on the positive.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Build on the Solid Rock, Matthew 7:24-29

To listen/download, click here: Solid Rock

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strong Words, Matthew 7:13-23

Listen/download here: Strong Words

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Golden Rule, Matt. 7:12

Click here: sermon Blogger changed their format, so I'm just relearning it. Click on the blue word to hear this message.