March 29, 2018- Life, Wisdom and Salvation (Maundy Thursday) Mark 14:22-25, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

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While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.  “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25 (NIV)

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;     the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” (Isaiah 29:14)

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (NIV)

Several years ago there was a scandal involving a United States president and the meaning of the word “is.” In the English language, few words have a more definitive meaning than the word “is.” It is a concrete word.  It is not abstract, and Jesus intends for us who follow Him to believe He is who He says He is.

Definition of:  IS

  • present tense third-person singular of be (this is the link to the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition)

Jesus tells us that the bread of the Last Supper (or the real First Communion) is His Body. Not that it might be, or it represents, but it is. He makes the same claim for the wine that was poured at the Last Supper, that it is His Blood. It sounds absolutely insane to the rational mind. On the surface it even sounds as if Jesus is proposing cannibalism. He is not proposing cannibalism, but a radical inclusion for us. In this meal where we eat His Body, His body becomes part of us. We receive His life in His Blood. It may sound like insanity, but coming to the altar to eat and drink the Body and Blood of the risen Christ is truly wisdom.

Jesus’ Body, broken and given for us as He died in our place. Jesus’ Blood, shed to cover and wipe away our sins. These realities are foolishness for the rational mind, but they are life and salvation for those who have been named and claimed by God in Christ.

The apostle Paul reminds us that our life is centered on Jesus- Jesus crucified, poured out from the Cross, for the redemption and salvation of all.

April 5, 2017 – Sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ- 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 31-33

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The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. …

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 31-33 (NRSV)

There is a saying that you can please some of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time. What was true in the early church is still true today.  Jesus followers come from all kinds of backgrounds and traditions, and sometimes we allow the non-essential traditions to separate us.

Even though there are many different Christian traditions, in Christ we are still one body. That’s a hard truth for us to take sometimes.

In the apostle Paul’s day there were Jesus followers who came from the Jewish tradition and largely followed Jewish law. There were also Jesus followers who were Roman or Greek, who came from traditions that had pantheons of gods and had never heard of the Jewish law.  This made it awkward for believers to agree on how to live and worship and even on how to share meals.

While ecumenism is becoming more of a reality today, unity among Jesus followers is still a difficult goal even within Christian traditions.  Christian believers still disagree on which traditions are essential, which ones aren’t, and in how we were meant to interpret Scripture.

One big caution here is that unity cannot be brought about by compromising or watering down the Gospel, (which turns ecumenism into syncretism, which is NOT about Christian unity, but about legitimizing and combining any old philosophical system or so called religion and calling it “Christian”) so there must be absolutes.  The statements in the Apostle’s Creed are based upon Scripture, and those statements define the essentials of Christian belief.

The Body and Blood of Christ, given for us, as Jesus followers, makes us one. But how do we live out that unity even when there is so much we cannot agree upon?

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NRSV)

We as Christians have many traditions that bring depth and meaning to our worship and to our life in Christ. Yet which of our traditions bring glory to God in all things, and which of our traditions put unnecessary burdens upon other Jesus followers?  How do we maintain both our own identity and traditions as well as promote unity among believers at the same time?

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