Posts Tagged ‘means of grace’

Sermon for 03-28-10: “Putting the Method in Methodist, Part 4: The Lord’s Supper”

March 30, 2010

Sermon Text: Luke 22:14-23

The sitcom How I Met Your Mother is a pretty funny show for grown-ups on CBS about five very close friends—Lily, Marshall, Ted, Barney, and Robin—who live and work in New York. In last week’s episode, Lily is looking forward to celebrating her birthday with her husband Marshall and the other three. She becomes very angry, however, when Ted shows up to the party with a date, whom none of the other four have met.

What bothers Lily about it is that for years Ted always shows up at these intimate and important life celebrations with these very temporary, short-term girlfriends—who are a part of Ted’s life one moment and gone the next. It doesn’t feel right—it doesn’t seem appropriate. Lily gets out her photo album and flips through its pages: year after year, Lily shows pictures of the five friends posing alongside one of Ted’s girlfriends whose names he couldn’t even remember. These women didn’t belong; they didn’t fit in. Read the rest of this entry »

“God in Christ takes time for us”

March 10, 2010

As we continue over the final few weeks of Lent to focus on practicing the Christian life, United Methodist Bishop William Willimon has a helpful word of warning for us in this week’s Christian Century magazine. He points out that any Christian spiritual discipline, absent of its object—the God revealed in Jesus Christ—can become a way of deflecting attention away from God.

Among other things, this means for me that the primary goal of fasting or temporarily “giving something up”— which we’ll talk about in Part 2 of our series this Sunday—is to help us hear the Spirit of Christ speak to us. If God doesn’t help us through fasting, we are ultimately not helping ourselves. If we derive any benefit from a religious practice, it must be because Jesus graciously meets us through it.

Willimon writes:

Christians have learned from bitter experience that many of our allegedly helpful means of climbing up to God are easily perverted into ways of defending ourselves against God. We’re always in danger of reducing Christianity to a matter of our experience. The true God can never be known through our practices but comes to us only as a gift of God, only as revelation. This is why I can say (as a Wesleyan) that Christian practices are not primarily what we do. Rather, our practice of the faith is something that God does for us, in us, often despite us.

Online resources for guided prayer

November 5, 2009

I’ve mentioned both of these websites in previous sermons, but I wanted to link to them here. Since most of us spend at least some portion of our day in front of a computer, both of these websites are useful resources for weaving prayer into the fabric of our busy days.

daily_prayerThe first site is from Britain and is sponsored by many Christian churches there. It changes three times a day for morning, afternoon, and evening prayer time. It’s supposedly for “beginners” to prayer and the Christian faith, but perhaps when it comes to encountering God we’re all beginners.

The second site, from the Episcopal Church, is based on an ancient liturgy for praying taken from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (which is also a part of our Wesleyan tradition). It changes based on the date and the time of day. I like it because it includes all scripture, readings, and prayers in one place. As you use it, you are joining with Christians all over the world in prayer.

Centering ourselves

October 28, 2009

A characteristic of the gospel of Mark is the way the author sandwiches a story within a story. Mark begins telling one story, which gets interrupted by another, before returning to the first. A classic example is Mark 5:21-42: While on his way to heal Jairus’s daughter, Jesus confronts the hemorrhaging woman who touches his cloak. This delay adds suspense to the narrative: will Jairus’s daughter die before Jesus makes it to his house? It also forces us to ask what the two stories have in common.

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