Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Communion, Lord's Supper, Eucharist

Many times I have considered posting my sermons here, and have even had some requests. Truth be told, its a bit of vanity that keeps me from doing so. The outline notes I have don't feel to me as though they convey the sermon well. That's because they are simply notes, not a manuscript of a sermon as many preachers use.

But today, as I was sitting in the sanctuary praying, I felt led to post this outline. It is one that I created years ago, based upon Larry Stookey's book Eucharist, so really he gets the credit here.
All I have done is outline his concepts, and put them into an acronym. To my memory, this is the only acronym I have ever created. There are some who are gifted at these...I'm not one of them.
Also written here are some excerpts from John Wesley and his preaching on communion.

I will be using this outline again to guide my preaching on the Last Supper this Maundy Thursday.

STRAFE- sacrifice, thanksgiving, remembrance of Jesus’ death, action of the Holy Spirit, fellowship, and eschatology. All of these are conveyed through the sacrament.

A. STRAFE- the foundation of this mystery. Strafe means to scatter widely…a way that God delivers grace.

a. S: Sacrifice- Christ’s life, death, and resurrection make God’s grace available to us. We also present ourselves as sacrifice in union with Christ (Rom 12:1, 1Peter2:5) to be used in the work of redemption, reconciliation, and justice


b. T: Thanksgiving: expressing joy for God’s acts in history. Creation, Covenant, Redemption, Sanctification

c. R: Remembrance: of Jesus’ death for us. A re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Christ is risen, and alive here and now.

d. A: Action of the Holy Spirit: John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

i. Great Thanksgiving: “Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world that body of Christ, redeemed by Christ’s blood. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry with all the world.”

ii. This meal nourishes and strengthens our faith. It sustains us through trial, tragedy, temptation

e. F: Fellowship: celebrates the body of the faithful coming together, reveals the nature of the church, and the model God would have for the world

f. E: Eschatology: looks to the end of time, and God’s purpose for the world

i. “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.”

ii. Commune with those here, and with all the saints

iii. A foretaste of the future, a promise of heaven, “until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.”

iv. When we eat and drink at the Table, we partake of the divine nature in this life and for life eternal.

v. Anticipate heavenly banquet celebrating God’s victory over sin, evil, and death (tragedy)

It is a plain command of Christ (John Wesley)

A. If we don’t take it to mean that we are do it constantly, than how often are we to obey? Of course it would be at every opportunity, otherwise we are being disobedient

B. People who complain that it detracts from reverence- suppose that it did. God commands us “do this.” When able to do it now, but will not, by making the excuse “if I do it so often, it will abate the reverence with which I do it now.” Begs the question: Has God ever told you that you when obeying his command diminishes your reverence, then you may disobey it? If God has said this, then you may avoid communion. If not, then diminished reverence is no reason to avoid the sacrament

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let America be America Again

A friend of mine shared this poem with me and I found it as moving as she did. It was written by Langston Hughes, who was a black, gay, liberal, pro-union man.

Let America be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
...Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Langston Hughes