Jesus loved the Church and gave Himself for her, as we remember here, to cleanse and present her to Himself perfect. Each of us nourishes and cherishes our own body. We use our head and hands to feed our body. Well, Jesus nourishes the church like that. We are members of his body, of His flesh and bone. This is a great mystery, but you see His hands feeding you now as the elders distribute the bread and wine; you’ve heard His voice speaking to you in the sermon.
Do you love Jesus? Do you want to serve Him? We need to start by receiving the gifts He gives us. His Word, His church leaders, His people. Believe that whatever fire the Lord puts you through, God has redeemed you and made you His child. He will not let you go, but will gather you to Himself with the rest of His people, in full joy and gladness in His kingdom.
Jesus calls us in our sermon text to joy. The joy of the Lord is your strength. As we consider the duty of gladness in worship, we must prepare ourselves to reject the extremes that attend it. Godly maturity will reject giddiness and silliness before the Lord. Maturity also overcomes the dour expressions that assume that a long face is a sign of piety. A gloomy killjoy is no closer to the kingdom than the breathless emotion-seeker. Some signal their piety with laughter or tongues; others by removing their smiles when they come to worship. Many have been signaling so long they don’t realize they are more interested in what others think than in what God thinks. We all need to grow up into Christ. This reminds us of our need to confess our sins to God. 3/1/09.
Question from one of our children at church last week: "There's this I can't understand. The bread isn't really God's body and the wine isn't really God's blood. Why do you pretend it is?"
Good question. We talk this way because Jesus did when He told us to keep doing this to remember Him. In 1 Cor 11, Paul criticizes the church for not celebrating the Supper the right way. In verse 23, he tells us how to do it rightly, part of which is to say, "This is my body" when we break the bread. It isn't that we are pretending; we are saying something we don't fully understand. The part we understand is that Jesus is food and joy for our souls, like bread and wine are food and joy for our bodies.
We just sang that we look to the Lord for help in trouble. But when He comes He comes first to purify us. We desire Him, but can we endure Him, when He comes? He doesn’t put up with our casual looks or our lingering lusts, with our massaging the truth or our intentional lies, with our holding back helping the widow or breaking financial obligations.
The messenger of the covenant purifies us, not only to save us from the ravaging effects of sin in OUR lives, but to have a holy people for Himself. Our confession and forgiveness isn’t just relief for us, it brings glory to Him. We confess our sins, not out of self-preservation, to get out of the corner we backed ourselves into. We confess for the same reason we gather for worship, listen to the Word, receive Communion, and serve Him in the world. We confess our sins to glorify the Lord in our lives, even in the way He deals with our sin.
Paul warns here [1 Cor 11:17-22] against divisions, against self-approval compared to others, against shaming those who have nothing, or less than we do. As we prepare to confess our sin, we must consider how we lift ourselves above others: we have more money, more resources, more experience, more wisdom. We must consider how we leave others to their poverty, spiritual or material, when we could help. We must consider this before we commune with Christ and His Body, remembering His sacrifice for us, and regarding each member around us for whom He died with dignity and compassion.
It is a natural thing in leaner economic times to pull back first on our generosity. But we must continue to remember the poor. We must continue doing good to all, especially to those in the household of the faith.
1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup firmly packed parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts (or almonds, walnuts)
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix together in the blender until the consistency of soft butter. I add the olive oil last, so I can adjust the amount if necessary. We enjoy this on pasta, paninis, mixed with butter for yummy pesto butter on bruschetta, or blended with cream cheese, sour cream and a bit of Wors. sauce for a tangy spread.
My kitchen friends, Geert & Antje, are frequent helpers.
The Wheel on the School
Growing Up Where Jesus Lived
The Reluctant Dragon
The Secret Garden
Owls in the Family
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH
dress pattern can be downloaded for free here
Watching my giggly little girl grow up into a young lady is an amazing and humbling process. I thank God for the grace that He gives each day!