Sunday, April 2, 2017

Crushed and broken to become something new together.

Oh Lord, let my soul rise up to meet You
As the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen

But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14

And He shall judge the world in righteousness, He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. Psalm 6

Today’s Scripture readings are all about overcoming: Psalm 6, Exodus 14 and 1 John 2. But it is not I overcoming. Rather it is He, the righteous Advocate, He who is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Yesterday I went to my first new members class at Prince Chapel, which is a series of twelve two-hour classes, but we might be able to move through the teachings a little more quickly because there are only two of us. And actually, we covered the first four lessons in just one day: Out of the Darkness Into His Marvelous Light: God’s Plan for Salvation; Introduction to the Church: General Church Information, Church Liturgy, Order of Service and Church Manners; Fundamental Methodist Doctrine: 25 Articles of Religion; The Origin, History, Structure and Government of the AME Church.

And my homework for next week is to find Scriptural support of the doctrines and practices of Methodism. And we were reminded of those founding brothers, John and Charles Wesley, and their passion for disciplined prayer, for the study of God’s Word and for seeking out lost souls. And I remembered Susan Wesley, their mother, who was faithful and strong through many trials. And I remember how so many years ago, I resolved to be like unto her in her courage, her commitment to each individual child, and her commitment to begin each day on her knees.

And the African Methodist Episcopalian Church was founded in 1787 out of a desire to freely worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Because those of African descent were relegated to the back rows of church, not invited to the table of communion. Not invited into the body of Christ.

Eucharist is from the Greek eucharistein, meaning thanksgiving; communion is from the Latin, meaning “union with.”

And Christ asked us to remember Him in this way. “Re-member-ing” has to do with becoming something new, the body of Christ, in which we lose ourselves in something bigger than ourselves; we are re-membered into a new body. As often as Christian take the common elements of bread and wine, the re-member themselves into –Jesus. In the Eucharist, we don’t just remember-Jesus in general; we remember His suffering. The bread is a broken body, and the wine is poured like shed blood. Bother grain and grapes have to be crushed and broken to become something new together. If you are what you eat, the Eucharist is indeed the act of uniting yourself with the One who lovingly suffered at the hands of His enemies. (The Book of Common Prayer)

And the folks at AME take communion seriously. If members are unable to attend service, the pastor delivers communion to their homes.

And so I have been asked to lead the adult Bible study this morning. There are just a few of us gathering, but my, we all do love His Word. And the text today is the 23rd Psalm, which is so beloved by me that variations of it are all my new internet passwords. And I am ushering today as well. And I have been asked to wear black and white, and they are going to loan me white gloves, and a big part of the ushers’ job is to stand at the door and make sure every single person feels welcome and I was chosen because I have such a big smile but there are a lot of Church Manners I am still learning, such as no walking about during prayer and Scripture reading, and no crossing the center aisle once service has begun, because Jesus Christ is in the center of our worship, and no applauding after the singing, no matter how glorious it is. And the folks at AME are pretty impressed with how I know all of the old hymns by heart.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

And for the past two weeks, I have just been hitting “replay,” again and again, as the little dusty black Rabbit hops through Tucson traffic.

May this be true, great Father, that I truly know Thy Presence by heart. Waking or sleeping, may Thy Presence be my light.