Worship Preview 11.5.23 Greater Than: the Communion of Saints
This Weekend: “Greater Than: The Communion of Saints” Scriptures: Psalm 8, Hebrews 11:1-2 & 12:1-2, Isaiah 25:6-9 and Revelation 21:1-6. Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching.
Recently I ran across a video by a pastor named Tauren Wells. He shared a profound insight using guitar strings as a metaphor. He points out that a guitar string on its own is really nothing. It only serves its purpose if it is connected to the guitar – specifically connected to both the headstock and the body - and then tuned. Most guitars have six strings – each tuned differently - each experiencing the tension of life differently, but in a connected way. They become something greater than themselves. This is what I’ve been preaching about lately – membership, stewardship, a life of faith. We can authentically live that out in many ways, and together we create harmony, melody. Pastor Wells’ church and worship patterns are quite different than ours here at First UMC – but we are both connected to Christ – the head, the pioneer and perfector of our faith – and we are connected to the body – the church – through specific local congregations, the wider body of Christ and the “Church Triumphant” – one name for those who have died in this life but whom we believe live on in Christ. Sunday we will lift of the names of those who have gone before us and shaped our journeys as we continue our stewardship series and celebrate All Saints Sunday. United Methodists do not formally canonize saints or direct prayers to (or through) them as some other traditions do, yet we do recognize, remember and celebrate the witness those who have gone before us shared. We also proclaim God’s grace that still surrounds them.
Charles Wesley picks up on this theme in his hymn that appears in our United Methodist Hymnal as "Come, Let Us Join our Friends Above," #709. In the first verse, he offers a wonderful image of the Church through the ages: Let saints on earth unite to sing, with those to glory gone, for all the servants of our King in earth and heaven, are one.
In Christ, we see and claim the promise of forgiveness, resurrection and eternal life. In the Scriptures we will hear this day we find hope and assurance. All Saints Sunday is about remembering our traditions, ancestors, and connections - and about challenging ourselves about how we are living out and passing on the faith. In between the verses we will hear from Hebrews 11 and 12 is a litany invoking the stories of the Old Testament - and as we come forward for communion, all who attend will be invited to list the names of loved ones and other people influential to their life on ribbons that will then be tied into a visible reminder of the “great cloud of witnesses” that continue to influence us.
We will remember their stories and our own and enter into a season of thanksgiving and commitment as a congregation. And as we approach Advent, we are reminded that the ultimate vision John of Patmos shares in Revelation is of a renewed city, with people of all ages, nations, and races, and God dwelling among mortals – not escape, but renewal. We experience a foretaste of that renewal in Holy Communion. Christ’s table is open to all – and wherever you are on your 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.firstumcfortscott.org/newvisitors for more information on what to expect.
Remember to "Fall Back" Saturday night as Daylight Savings time changes again - or just come an hour early and join a Sunday School!
Pioneer Kiwanis Chili and Cinnamon Roll Fundraiser, Tuesday, Nov. 7th. We are glad to again host this 35th annual event - drive through service with a $8 suggested donation . A meal of the Pioneers' signature chili with crackers and a homemade cinnamon roll will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. This is the Kiwanis Pioneers' major fundraiser for the year and funds raised stay in Bourbon County and benefit approximately 40 local programs.
Wednesday, November 8, 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. A reminder: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you.
SIGN UP FOR OUR NATIVITY SHOWCASE – December 1st and 2nd, as part of Christmas on the Bricks, we will have our first annual display of nativity sets and creche’s from members and friends in our fellowship hall and you are invited to be a part of it. See our website to register a favorite set of yours to be part of the display then plan to visit to see them all Friday from 5-8pm and Saturday 10-2pm. https://www.firstumcfortscott.org/nativity-showcase for details.
Cover image "Festival of Lights" by John August Swanson