Worship Preview 10.1.23
First United Methodist Church
This Weekend: “Christ for the World… World Communion Sunday” Scriptures: John 4:31-38, Galatians 3:26-29, and 1 John 4:1-21. Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching.
We are invited to the table by Christ. Christ through whom all things were made (John 1). Christ who humbled himself, even to the point of death on a Cross (Philippians 2). Christ who is the living water, the bread of life, the rock.
Our first reading is a highlighted section found during the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. In the richness and power of that larger story, I think this section is sometimes easy to overlook. Here, while she has gone back to the Samaritan city, sharing the good news, Jesus’ closest followers now approach him. They are astonished. They are confused. They don’t understand why Jesus has come to this foreign territory, broken the standards (a Jewish man talking to a woman, let alone a Samaritan… a Samaritan woman?! – utterly scandalous!) Yet they don’t want to contradict him or challenge him. They’d gone off to find food, so they urge him to eat something… and he says he has food they don’t know about. What is he saying?
Which brings me “Christ for the World We Sing”. The 2nd line is “the world to Christ we bring.” Over the past few weeks, when talking about the Will of God – I’ve encouraged some really nuanced thinking and discernment, that we might find the narrow way Jesus calls us to travel, that we might be sure to build on the rock, not the sand, but also not become too rigid and thus crack. This hymn illustrates is another case where I think that is important and helpful. If we think that WE bring Christ TO the world – as if Christ is not already before us and with them – we miss the point. Rather our call, as disciples is to bring the world to Christ – knowing that he holds it together. Knowing that he understands the brokenness of the world. The wounds of the world. The sin… he has taken that all on. If we chose to be full of ourselves and our ideas, to make our boundaries rigid… we miss out on wellsprings of living water. We put ourselves in Christ place and bring our culture, our viewpoints, our ways…
If, instead, we sing to Christ and offer to Christ – we open ourselves to receive the living bread… to partake of the food of Jesus – that which sustained him can sustain us – but only if we are hungry for it.
Our second text is one of the latest texts of the New Testament, the 4th chapter of a short letter to an early Christian community that helps define what the early church was about: Love. It is here we find a call to “test the Spirits” – don’t believe everything you hear, but see what fruit it bears. Recently I have shared some challenging insights. I’ve made a couple of people uncomfortable, while giving space to others who feel released from questions they’d dared not ask. To both, I have said essentially what 1 John calls for. I may be wrong. Test it. See what fruit this teaching bears. Don’t put your faith in me, (or Paul, or Apollos) but rely fully on God! And in doing so, remember that God IS Love.
And Jesus life reveals that love – and it includes Samaritain women. In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free… its not that our differences disappear, it’s that they are not barriers to God’s love.
Christ invites us to the table… let us respond “Here we are, Lord!” and let us be open to hearing that response from others quite different from us as well, for Christ goes before us and is not limited by us. The table is open to you!
No matter where you are on your own journey of faith, you are invited to join in worship and celebration at 10:30am at 301 S. National, coming just as you are, with your questions, doubts and hopes - and to experience the transformative, healing love and grace of Christ - which makes us whole. Visit www.firstumcfsks.org/newvisitors for more information on what to expect.
Upcoming Events: Wednesday, October 4, 5:30 pm Feeding Families in His Name – this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. Note: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you.
Ways to Help: Would your group like to help prepare a meal or volunteer in other ways – contact Pastor Christopher or our coordinator Bonnie Milburn at the church (620) 223-1950. Donations to sustain this ministry are also deeply appreciated and can be directed to Feeding Families in His Name, c/o First UMC 301 S. National, Fort Scott, KS 66701.
NEXT WEEK – Sunday, October 8th at 6pm, Presley’s Branson and RFD TV, and former Blackwood Brothers performer Chuck Crain will be in concert at First UMC. This is another freewill donation show, so bring a friend and enjoy some great Gospel music here in Fort Scott!
Image “We are one in Jesus
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