Sunday, October 4:
The following selections were used as part of United Methodist’s long liturgical service of Word and Table.
Scripture Lesson: Psalm 25 (lectionary) –NLT
1 Declare me innocent, O Lord,
for I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
2 Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
Test my motives and my heart.
3 For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
and I have lived according to your truth.
4 I do not spend time with liars
or go along with hypocrites.
5 I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
I come to your altar, O Lord,
7 singing a song of thanksgiving
and telling of all your wonders.
8 I love your sanctuary, Lord,
the place where your glorious presence dwells.
9 Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.
Don’t condemn me along with murderers.
10 Their hands are dirty with evil schemes,
and they constantly take bribes.
11 But I am not like that; I live with integrity.
So redeem me and show me mercy.
12 Now I stand on solid ground,
and I will publicly praise the Lord.
Response to the Word/Reflection:
Participating in Communion today connects all Christians here, there, and everywhere. Today, no denomination can claim ownership of this sacrament. Today, communion brings all Christians to be one in all.
In the Apostles’ Creed, the use of the term ‘catholic’ does not mean that the Catholic denomination, it means the entire or universal church. It is a word that means all Christians who worship are of one church, God’s church.
Reading through Pope Francis’ address to Congress, the audience he tries to reach is American, but he expands it to all individuals. He refers to a ‘catholic’ society, a unified society trying to exist in a global community. He by-passes the boundaries that define the various countries, he appeals to humans who are seek peace and justice for all individuals.
Pope Francis referenced four Americans for four different qualities. He chose Abraham Lincoln for his efforts to defend liberty. Martin Luther King was referenced as he keeps the ‘dreams’ for all humans.
Two others are not as well known, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Day was known for her efforts to achieve social justice and the rights of persons. Merton was a Cistercian monk who a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.
A primary theme of the Pope’s address to the Americans via Congress can and was summarized by one rule, the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Mt 7:12). He said,
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
The Golden Rule is the New Covenant. All laws need to be tested by the filter of the Golden Rule. Pope Francis talked about other issues, but he put theology into action by speaking out on each topic and showing how the Golden Rule puts theology into action which protects liberty, creates and encourages dreams, fights social injustice, and promotes peace between one another.
Therefore, today as the Christian world join in communion, let us join in the Apostles’ Creed knowing that this statement of faith unites us and with the Golden Rule we are equipped to live as Christians and to lead others to Christ, too. These are the tools of our faith; they are the foundation of our faith; and we can put our theology into action here, thee, and everywhere.
Scripture lesson: Hebrews 2:5-13 (lectionary) 14-18 (added emphasis) –NLT
5 And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. 6 For in one place the Scriptures say,
“What are mere mortals that you should think about them,
or a son of man[a] that you should care for him?
7 Yet you made them only a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.[b]
8 You gave them authority over all things.”[c]
Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under their authority. 9 What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position “a little lower than the angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.”
Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. 10 God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.
11 So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.[d] 12 For he said to God,
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.”[e]
13 He also said,
“I will put my trust in him,”
that is, “I and the children God has given me.”[f]
14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had[g] the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters,[h] so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Response to the word/Reflection:
Do not be afraid to put what you believe into action. God loves each one of us. He loves us so much that he decided to walk along side of us as a man known as Jesus Christ. He gave us one golden rule by which to live. And he died for us. His death we remember today–here, there and everywhere.
Pope Francis radiates love of this earth and all that is in it. When the news reporters noticed the change in his face as he reached out to the peoples, he witnessed theology in action. Christians around this world know the wonder witnessed on the Pope’s face as God’s love.
Each one of us can share our theology, our love of God, every day. We simply must love one another as we want to be loved and we must do all we can do for all we can in any way we can. God grants us grace, so we must offer grace to others, too.
Today we thank God for his creation, for his grace, for his love, and for the gift of his son. Communion reconnects us to God, it reaffirms our faith, it shares the hope we have for salvation, and it fuels us with love. Communion is theology in action.