The Knowable Mystery

When we think of great people in the Bible, we are all going to have our favorites.  Characters that appeal to us, that speak to us, that mean something to us.  Moses, Noah, David, Ruth, Ester, Mary, so many names of people that may speak to us.

But one of the names that is one many of our lists is Paul.  Paul has a dramatic conversion story, travels the world preaching, and wrote many books that make up the New Testament.

Paul is one of the most important figures in the Bible and in world history.  He was the first to take the Gospel into Europe.  He started churches across the world.  He brought the Good News to Gentiles.  Through His love of devotion to Jesus, he literally changed the world.  Look at what he says, though, in 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5, is important to him:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

21818_433630803383117_578966460_n.jpgYesterday Erin Hicks, our Associate Pastor here at St. Matthew’s shared a quote from John Wesley that this passage reminded me of.  Wesley said this -. “If we could once bring all our preachers, itinerant and local, uniformly to and steadily to insist on those two points, ‘Christ dying for us’ and ‘Christ reigning in us,’ we should shake the trembling gates of hell.”  That is the truth of the Gospel.  Jesus dying for us (and being raised for us) and reigning in us every day, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  That is what truly counts, that is what is all about.

And that is what Paul preached over and over again.  As he says in this text – I decided to know (or preach) nothing Jesus crucified.

Paul says, I didn’t worry about the mysteries or these lofty words.  Jesus.  Crucified.  Resurrected.  Returning.  As we as part of our communion liturgy -as we proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

And this mystery, it is a knowable mystery.  We don’t “understand” it, who can really understand the power of resurrection and the cross.  But we can know it.  Because it is true.  And this truth sets us free.

In other words, all of this is to say what matters most.  Not mysteries that none but God truly know.  Not opinions, no matter how well thought out.  Not preferences or likes or dislikes.  Not the worry and fears of this world.  Paul didn’t focus on any this.

He focused on Jesus.  He loves us.  He died for us.  He will return for us.  That’s the truth of the Gospel.

The folks all around us, their need is not really the answers to all the mysteries of the world.  Their need is Jesus.  Christ, and Christ alone.  That’s our hope, and the hope for the world.

Today, may we know Jesus, and Him crucified. And may we know that nothing compares to that.

If you’d like to be added to my devotional list, shoot me an email, and I’ll add you!

The Table

One of my favorite parts of being a preacher is serving communion.  It really is.  It’s something I look forward to doing, something I look forward sharing in, something that really adds to my faith and my love of God.

Communion is a very powerful thing. It is something that when the Body of Christ does it, we know that God is in our midst and is drawing us closer to Himself.

This week, each day’s readings have been taken from scriptures that were listed in the bulletin at Asbury this past Sunday.  You can click here to see that bulletin.  Each of the passages talk about practices of faith that grow our love of God. So far this week we’ve reflected on scripture and on prayer.

Today, it’s communion.  Listen to Acts 2:42 and what happened in the early church:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

In the earliest of days in the church they gathered for the teaching, the preaching, the fellowship, and the table.  At this table, Christians came together to remember what happened when our Lord was betrayed and crucified, but they also looked forward to a time when they would gather together with Jesus around the table at the wedding feast that is eternal life in heaven.

At this table, we are all equal.  We are all equal in our need for God, and equal in our hope of resurrection and eternal life.  At the table, we remember what He did for our sake and for our forgiveness and we look forward to a time of everlasting peace.

At the table, we are reminded we are forgiven, we are loved, and we are welcomed.

None of us deserve to come to the table. But, ALL are welcomed to come to the table. That’s what grace is all about.

Grace is about knowing that you aren’t worthy, but are invited anyway. That’s the grace God gives to us in the table of Communion, and the grace He gives us each day.

You aren’t worthy.  Neither am I.  None of us are. But, we are each loved. And welcomed. And treasured. Through God’s grace.

Remember what He did for our sake. And look forward to what will be. And live in the power of God’s amazing grace.


Maundy Thursday

This is one of the holiest days of the year. This is the day where we remember the betrayal of our Lord and His giving to us of the gift of Holy Communion.  Mark 14: 22-24 tells it this way:

22 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.

Now, I’m a United Methodist and I’ll let you in on a little secret.  We love us some communion.  We hold it to be a sacrament – a means by which God gives us grace.  We believe that in the blessing and in the giving and receiving of the elements, God pours out His Amazing Grace upon us, and draws us closer to Him, and brings us into a closer walk with Him.

We believe it’s God’s gift to us.  A  means by which He shows us His love.

No matter what tradition of the church you are part of, it behoves us each to remember that it was on this night Christ was given for our sake.  He was betrayed, He was broken.  For you, and for me.

For the sake of the world, He laid down His life. So we may live.

If your church celebrates this Holy or “Maundy” Thursday today or tonight, take time to go and be with the people of God.  My church, Ripley First United Methodist Church, will worship tonight.  If you are in Ripley and want to experience a powerful service come be with us.

If you are unable to worship today or tonight, or you church does not focus on this day, then pause and remember.  Remember if was for us He died, it was for us He was betrayed, and it was for us that He gave this meal of Holy Communion.

Today, take time to remember all He has done for us.