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Worship Preview for 5.7.23 - "The Body of Christ"

This Weekend: Sunday at 10:30am “The Body of Christ”Scriptures: John 14:1-14 and 1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-13, 27-31– with Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching and Holy Communion open to all.

One of the tag lines Pastor Christopher often uses is “Christ’s Table is Open to All.” This is a foundational aspect of my own journey to faith. This is not to disparage other traditions and their understandings of communion – it is important to treat communion as sacred and to genuinely attempt to understand what we are doing – yet it is also important to remember that Jesus sat at tables full of people who did not yet understand and sought to give them grace. The table is both affirmation and invitation. As United Methodists, we seek to highlight the invitational and transformative grace aspects of Holy Communion.

I believe the world needs the witness of many different denominations and approaches – and needs us to find ways to coexist in and even celebrate our differences and diversity. That’s part of the point of Paul’s writing in 1stCorinthians. As we continue a series on spiritual gifts, we are looking at selected verses this week that highlight the message that the body has many parts – hands, and feet; eyes and ears have different functions yet are part of one whole. As we receive the bread and cup – the body and blood of Christ – we are called to be transformed, to answer a call to becoming who we are created to be. To become that which we receive. Together we are the body of Christ.

What we receive at the table is a gift, a part of our journey of faith – faith which is itself a gift. Last week, drawing from a book by Max Lucado, our guest speaker, Mary Brooks, shared about finding the “sweet spot” where our uniqueness and what we DO in our everyday lives intersects with the “why” of glorifying God. It is a great way of encouraging us, individually, to find our purposes, our spiritual gifts, and our unique call to live them out in community.

This week's reading from John then takes that even further – when we read John 14, we often focus on the assurance of “dwelling places” and the declaration that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Too often, we twist that to mean “no one comes to the Father except through me” to mean no one really believes unless they believe and act like us. But that is not what Jesus is saying – Jesus is calling his disciples to know God (the Father) through him – and to be so filled with the love and grace of God that *others* encounter and know God – and encounter and know Jesus – through their witness. That is, both what they believe and say, and what they then DO. Jesus, in fact, tells them” “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.”

So often we read the gospels as amazing things Jesus did that we must believe in a certain way to get to heaven. Jesus is instead telling us to encounter the fullness of God and to share it in word and in deed – and that if we are truly rooted in him, that what we do – together as the body of Christ – will be even greater!

This week we will gather at the table and continue to talk about how we are equipped to serve and work to discern our call - individually and together.And you are invited! Invited to receive, and invited to ponder with us: We are all equipped to do good works, flowing out of our faith.How do we use our time? Our unique abilities? Our reason? Our creativity? How do we find the sweet spot where our gifts and graces connect best with others’ gifts and graces.

Wherever 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 find purpose, explore your own gifts and graces and experience the fullness of Christ’s transformative, healing love and grace - which makes us whole.

Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, May 10th,5:30 pmFeeding 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.

Walk the Labyrinth! –Exploring the labyrinth is a great way to enjoy beautiful spring days. A walking labyrinth is a single path to the center, there are no wrong turns or dead ends. The labyrinth at 3rdand Crawford is open to all and you can use it to pray, discern, or just enjoy a stroll. Mark your Calendar for 11:45am Sunday, May 28th, when members and friends of both 1stPresbyterian and First United Methodist will gather for a short, formal dedication of this space led by Rev. Christopher Eshelman.

Mark your calendar also for aspecial worship service on June 11th.That day, First United Methodist members and friends will join together in one worship service with our neighbors at 1stPresbyterian, 10:30am in their sanctuary at 3rdand Crawford,We will hear from Pastor Darryl Burton about his faith story. Pastor Burrton previously served 24 years for a crime he did not commit and now leads a group called the Miracle of Innocence that helps others with similar stories. Pastor Burton also serves on the staff of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City. We are thrilled to have him share his witness here in Fort Scott on this special shared Sunday!

Rev. Christopher Eshelman

Pastor, Fort Scott First UMC

Know, Grow, Serve, Share

Cell Phone (316) 833-4974



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