given on Sunday October 2, 2016 as part of the Service of Word and Table I in honor of World Communion Sunday
Opening scripture: Lamentations 1:1, 2b & 6 (NLT)
1 Jerusalem, once so full of people,
is now deserted.
She who was once great among the nations
now sits alone like a widow.
Once the queen of all the earth,
she is now a slave.
2. . . All her friends have betrayed her
and become her enemies. . . .
6 All the majesty of beautiful Jerusalem[b]
has been stripped away.
Her princes are like starving deer
searching for pasture.
They are too weak to run
from the pursuing enemy.
Today’s focus & reflection: Lack of unity in global community
Reading scripture written thousands of years ago does not always seem to connect to today’s world, but these verses in Lamentations can send chills down one’s spine. Jerusalem, the Jewish capital city, was captured and destroyed by Babylon. The Jewish people were killed, captured and made slaves, or exiled fleeing their homeland.
The book of Lamentations is a sequel to Jeremiah, both written by Jeremiah. The first book predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the second tells the story after the destruction. The prophet’s words were not heeded and the result was heart-wrenching.
The lesson today needs to be heard again. The faithful today must stand up and do whatever they can do to follow God’s commandment to love one another. Jeremiah’s prophecy to the ancient Jewish community is just as applicable today. God wants us to follow the same laws he gave Moses—the Ten Commandments.
The Old Testament records the struggles of the faithful to maintain the commandments in the global context of the ancient world. The human will faces temptations today that are just as destructive as they were in ancient times.
The place we are today whether is it here in our very small, rural community or whether it is at any other spot in today’s global community is the same as it was in Jerusalem thousands of years ago.
The place we are today in history’s timeline does not change the fact that God’s commandments are just as applicable today as ever. We cannot ignore these laws. We are faithful followers of God today and we must remain true to his law.
Today the faithful around this world join together at God’s table. It does not matter who we are, where we are, what we use as bread or what we use as wine/juice. We are God’s faithful and we renew our commitment to do all that we can to serve as stewards of this world in any way that we can.
Jeremiah wept. We weep. The stories of the Bible are lessons for us today. We are commissioned to be stewards of this earth and that means all that lives on this planet, too.
Scripture lesson: I Corinthians 10:12-18 (NLT)
12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. 16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17 And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. 18 Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar?
More reflection on scripture: Communion unites global community
Everybody knows that the more things change, the more they do not change. Today’s communion is no different, really, that sitting down with friends and family throughout history. We sit down at the table and chatter about the weather, the kids and grandkids, and the latest news.
One change, though, the local community now expands to reach around this globe on which we live. The advancements in communication make the stories on the opposite side of this globe as real to us on this side of the globe. The ability to witness in our own homes, in real time, the events that affect others regardless of the location makes us active participants with complete strangers.
Today we share the elements of communion that are familiar to us just like other Christians are doing at any other church or meeting site. We have learned what God did to save us. We know that Jesus was God on this earth delivering the simplest way to live possible: Love one another as you want to be loved.
Are we living our lives that way? Are we honestly loving one another as we want to be loved? Are we able to keep God at the center of our lives or are we lured away by other idols?
Today we are so fortunate to have scripture to read and to study. Today we are so fortunate to live in a country that allows total freedom to be the Christians we chose to be. Today we share in the bread and the cup as reminders of our commitment to be the faithful right here, right now.
And what better time to remember this commitment than now? As Christians, we have responsibility to live our faith out loud in all the ways that we can. As Americans, we have the opportunity to live our faith at a time that could be compared to ancient times in Jerusalem and even the faithful Paul addressed in Corinthians:
16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ?
Today, we join the global community of God’s faithful. Let us remember our covenant with God and do whatever we can do to lead others to God and to live our faith out loud as models to others of God’s love.
Closing Scripture: John 3:16 (NLT)
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.