“Lord have mercy on me, was the kneeling drunkards plea. And as he knelt there on the ground, I know that God in heaven looked down.”
In 1996, Johnny Cash sang this remake of the Carter Family song, "Kneeling Drunkard's Plea." In this song, God hears the cry of a man kneeling at his mother’s grave. For whatever personal reasons, he didn’t make it in time to say good-bye. But he shouts up to God for mercy, and God looks down upon him. Depending on how you see yourself this song, or at least the portion I read, God’s mercy could be interpreted in two ways.
The first way is that God looks down upon the drunk, and shakes his head in disgust. God then picks up an index card and a pencil, and begins to scribble down all the sins this drunk has committed in his life. God then he hands the card to an angel who rushes it to a warehouse that is filled with countless white cards just like this one. It's here they are all safely stored there until that fateful day when the drunk is brought before God in judgment. That’s one way of interpreting the Bible and Christianity.
The other way is more like this. God looks down on the drunk and sees a man, empty, broken and in dire need of help. God feels the man’s pain, and has empathy. When God hears the man crying over his mother’s grave, He can't help but be reminded of all the tears shed at his son’s death. God knows the drunkard’s story, because he has walked with people just like him. People whose bad choices...have made their life a living hell. So in hearing the man cry out, “Lord, have mercy on me,” God pulls out his pencil and begins to erase the man’s index card. Ever since Abel’s blood cried out from the ground, God has responded mercifully to our pleas.
This morning's gospel reading offers us yet another one of these moments. Bartimaeus sees clearly now for the first time, both physically and spiritually. Moreover, the disciple’s eyes are finally being cracked open. These faithful, bumbling 12, have struggled to understand the way before them are beginning to see how following Jesus is both risky and rewarding.
Now I am hoping everyone received an index card when you came in. I want you to look at it. Don’t write anything on it, just look at it. As you look at this clean white card I'd like you to visualize all your transgressions and iniquities you've committed over, let's say the last 24 hours. Again, don't write anything down...This is a thinking exercise. Not a confession. All I want you to do is see the sins appear on the card. We have plenty of cards in case you need more. Are you able to see the words? If so, imagine what God's response will be...when you hand him a card filled with the things you have done and not done.
If you understand God to be a vindictive judge who holds every sin you’ve ever done in some filing cabinet, then what does that say about God? Or what does it say about God's grace through Jesus Christ, our great high priest? I know some of you still carry fear in your heart that whatever you did, whatever sin you committed, has made you somehow unforgivable. All it has done is made you blind.
By its very definition mercy is tied directly to forgiveness. If we are unable to forgive ourselves, or others, then we create a spiritual blindness within us that denies God’s mercy and grace. Not only does it distort the word of God, but also it nullifies the cross of Christ, and all its saving power.
John’s gospel reminds us that Christ did not come to condemn but to save us, to care and love and redeem us back into God's family.
Or as Brennan Manning so creatively explains, “Jesus comes for sinners, for us who are outcast or caught up in squalid choices and failed dreams.”
Jesus himself said, I did not come for the healthy but for the sick.
Jesus hears the cries of the blind and the lame and the lepers and the demon possessed, and he comes to them. He hears the cries of the star athlete who has been repeatedly molested by his uncles and comes to him. He comes to the prostitute who prays to her Sunday School God to help her find a different job so she can support her 2-year-old daughter. He comes for street people, corporate executives, drug addicts, teachers, farmers, prostitutes, ministers, bartenders, drunks, social workers, abuse victims, IRS agents, EMTs, janitors, security guards, AIDS patients, frustrated caretakers, lonely shut ins, movie stars, sports stars, the unknown, the unwanted, and used car salesmen. The list is endless, because there's no ending to God's love.
Jesus comes to you...he comes to me. And he doesn't just come to us, but Jesus breaks bread with us, talks with us, prays with us, heals us, tolerates us, and of course, he does the unthinkable for us…He gives himself up as a servant and sacrifice for all. At the end of the day, what God desires the most isn't an index card...but a relationship with us. As a great church Saint once joked, "If God condemned every sinner then who would he have left to forgive?"
But mercy isn’t only about forgiveness. It's also about compassion. If you see God as compassionate and loving, then you have probably received God’s mercy. You have seen and felt God’s love in the most blessed form.
In the story of Bartimaeus, the blind man cries out, “Jesus, have mercy on me.”
And Jesus responds by asking him the same question that he asked James and John in the previous passage, “What is it that you want me to do?”
Bartimaeus pleads, “Let me see again.” And Jesus replies, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Immediately his sight is restored. And Bartimaeus sees the truth standing right in front of him; the truth of God’s love revealed in the flesh.
Jesus’ entire journey so far has been one eye-opening lesson of forgiveness and compassion. As we walk with Christ our eyes are cracked open too. And we begin to see what these two things mean to the health and salvation of the world around us. To truly follow Jesus, to pick up our cross and carry out his commandment to love, requires us to embrace a servant’s heart. We too must give ourselves over to attend to the cries of mercy.
Whether they are in refuge camps or in the closet in our own home. The truth of God’s grace is revealed to us and through us. For the mercy we are shown by God is the mercy we are to give to others. Our ability to forgive and show compassion is the standard by which God measures us.
When I look at this index card, I can’t see my sins. My card of mine has been washed clean with the blood of the lamb. (hold up card) This is the gospel of grace. It’s a clean slate or index card. For God to fill with the mercy we show to others. Jesus tells Bartimaeus to "Go." I charge you with that same imperative. Go and show forgiveness and compassion to those in need.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
And in case you were wondering,...in the final verse Johnny Cash joyfully proclaims, “Three years have passed since she went away. Her son is sleeping beside her today. And I know that in heaven his mother he sees, for God has heard that drunkard's plea.”
Now if that isn't Good News, then “Lord, have mercy on me.”
Bible, NRSV. Mark 10:46-52; Hebrews 7:23-28
Bartlett, David L., Barbara Brown Taylor, ed. Feasting on the Word, Year B, Vol. 4. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.
Cash, Johnnie. Kneeling Drunkard's Plea. Cash. American: 1997.
Manning, Brennan. The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat Up, and Burnt Out. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2005.
There once was young man who many might say died a death fitting for him. Let’s say his name is Jay. Well Jay’s heart gave out one day because of his reckless lifestyle. The news didn’t come as a shock to anyone…except maybe Jay.
His younger brother went to the local church to see if the minister would give Jay a Christian funeral. Now the minister knows Jay has never been his church. He also knows the family runs all sorts of unscrupulous businesses. And so the minister tells the man, “Knowing what I know about your brother and your family, I am not sure I can give you what you ask.”
The brother, being a shrewd businessman, offers the minister $25,000 to reconsider. This gets the minister’s attention. But there’s a caveat. The brother wants the minister to say that Jay was a saint. Since the church desperately needed the money, the minister tells the brother, “Give me the check right now and I’ll do it.” The brother writes the check, the minister quickly takes it to the bank and cashes it.
The following Saturday the sanctuary is filled with all sorts of unsavory people. The minister begins the service saying, “Many of you know that Jay was far from being called a Christian man. You know that he and his family are not God-fearing people. And quite frankly they have a reputation of being very unscrupulous in all that they do.”
The minister could see the brother, sitting in the front pew, red with rage. So he continues, “I don’t know if Jay even owned a bible, or was ever baptized, or had any clue what it meant to love one another. But what I do know is this...Jay was a saint in comparison to his brother.”
‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’
This morning’s gospel focuses on two other brothers, James and John. Like children asking for something they know their parents won't give them, the two try to trick Jesus into granting their request. And Jesus plays into their game to teach them a lesson.
There is something a bit comical in this scene, don’t you think? However it’s not joke. No matter how hard they try, the disciples never seem to get it right. Like the Keystone Kops Or the characters from Dumb and Dumber we can't help but to laugh at them and yet we do so out of our own insecurity.
This is the third time Jesus tells them that the Son of Man will be rejected and delivered to his death. And it's the third time the disciples seem to be clueless. It’s been said that James and John are trying to take advantage of bad news. Or that they want the best seats in the house, without understanding the real cost of such a vain request.
Mark gives us another story of our human foolishness. Far too often we overlook the risks of an investment because our eyes are focused on the big payoff. We want the prize now the bigger, the better. And we don't want to have to wait for it. When we don't get what we want, as quickly as we like, we jump ship and move on. All we have to do is look at how the church has reacted to how this idea of human entitlement to get a sense of who we've become.
In order to keep people’s attention, some ministers would rather feed people tweets instead of meat. Many churches will entertain the gospel instead of pushing people to think about what it's really calling us to do. Across the country, parishioners are afraid of what is happening to their church. "Where are the people going?"
But what happens when a church reacts out of fear? What does that say about their reliance on God? How can a church tell you to have faith if the church itself lacks faith?
Our consumer mentality is at odds with our Christian responsibly. We want the best seat in the house but have come to expect that it to be given to us free of charge. Dietrich Bonheoffer so aptly calls this “cheap grace.” That is to say... redemption without repentance; communion without confession; grace without the cross.
In his response to the brother’s Zebedee, Jesus turns around and asks them a question. "Are you able?" As he moves closer to his passion, Jesus needs to know if they are faithfully committed servants, willing to give all they have for God’s Kingdom.
If you have been here the last few weeks you might have noticed the word commitment has been a common theme: I have asked for parents to be committed to your children’s Christian education; commitment to fulfill the needs of the church...both now and in the future.
Last week, we looked at the story of the rich, young ruler who literally committed everything he owned to follow Christ. And in the coming weeks ahead we’ll have members from our church speak to you about your Stewardship commitment. Today, after worship, I will be meeting with people looking to join the church. They will have to decide if they will commit and make a covenant promise with us.
It's our faithful commitment that God is calling for. In giving ourselves over completely to God we learn how to rely on God instead of ourselves. What Jesus is asking of his disciples still applies to us today. Listen to his question. “Do you really think you are able to drink from this cup? Are you prepared to be baptized with the baptism I received?”
Henri Nouwen reminds us that baptism and the Eucharist are “the two main spiritual pillars of the Church. They are not just means by which we become and remain members of the Church, but they belong to the essence of the Church. Without these sacraments there is no Church. ”
When we are baptized with the living water of Christ, and when we gather around the table of Christ we become the people of God. We become the Church...the body of Christ.
When James and John hear Jesus’ question, what is their response? They boldly reply, “We are able.” How confident are they when they make this declaration? We read the words. They spoke them. We interpret them. But they lived by them.
“We are able.” Three simple words. One very bold statement.
Try to remove everything you know about this story and hear these three words again..."We are able." Does it make you wonder if in fact the brothers hear what Jesus is really saying? Does it make you wonder if they understand the risk Jesus is asking them to make? I think so.
I think they want to be closer to Jesus, not because it’s the best seat in the house but because being next to him is the safest place to sit when the world around you falls apart. They hear what’s in store for them, and they’re afraid. I can sympathize. They’re human, with fears, doubts, concerns, anxieties, and phobias. What Jesus is asking them to do is dangerous. Even when their heads are filled with crazy emotions they reply, “We are able.”
Fear and the need for security are a part of our deep human condition. Look at what our fear of terrorism has led us to do, government surveillance of its citizens and preemptive war. Fear over what will happen to the mainline church has led many to water down the gospel...why? To make it easier for us to commit. What Jesus is asking us isn't that simple.
Are we able?
Are we able to go the way of the cross? Are we able to leave our fears and insecurities, and commit? Are we able to be the Body of Christ? I believe we are able. Jesus isn't just warning the disciples as much as he is giving them, and us, words of hope.
We are able to shed our fears and find security in God’s love. We are able, because we know God's grace is real. We are able to take up our cross and endure all the tribulations along the way because we are empowered by the Spirit of God who sent his servant to give his life as a ransom for many. We are able to walk faithfully with Jesus, and we are able to receive our reward. Because we faithfully believe Jesus' death and resurrection changed the game. Yes, we are able. But are we willing?
Are we willing to be committed to live countercultural to the ways of the world? To give up our power and become weak in order to find our true strength? “The Son of Man came to serve and not be served.” Jesus came and transformed the world. Through him we are made new, different, and able.
But are we willing to be the antidote to a world that uses its power to dominate the weak? Are we willing to stand up against a system that creates division and injustice counter to God’s righteousness and peace? Are we wiling to give our time and resources right here for the sake of living in community, and loving our neighbors, forgiving all debts and one another? If so, then God is willing to reward us.
If we are able to give so freely and selflessly to strangers for the sake of God's Kingdom then we are able to receive the love and grace of God. This is the Good News. This is the way of the cross. This is an extraordinary promise that Jesus makes to such a fumbling, bumbling group of disciples both then and now.
So,...are you able?
 Nouwen, Henri. Bread for the Journey. New York: Harper-Collins, 2007. ebook.
Bartlett, David. L., Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. Feasting on the Word: Year B. Vol. 4. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009. p. 189-91.
Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Mark 10:32-45.
Back in the 4th Century there were these small colonies of people who populated the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, and Persia. They were made up of men who abandoned the pagan world, and all the stuff that came with it. Their reasons for doing so were various, but in a word they all sought “salvation.” They each desired to have a true relationship with God one that was not dictated by the dogma that had begun to flourish within the church.
These Desert Fathers, as they are known today, lived a life of solitude where they contemplated the mysteries of God, and sought their own true self in the selfless love of Christ. But living a simple life...would prove to be not that simple. Many tried to join these communities, but only a few were able to let go of those things that stood in their way of fully committing.
Thomas Merton recalls the story of a young monk who took the first step by renouncing the world and giving the things he owned to the poor. But he kept a few special things in his possession. When an elder heard about this, he said to the young man, “If you want to be a monk, go to the village and buy meat, and place it on your naked body and return here.” The brother did what he was told. Upon his return, dogs and birds of prey tore at his body. Later, when the elder asked if he had done as he was instructed, the brother showed him his lacerated body, to which the elder said, “Those who renounce the world and want to retain possession of money are assailed and torn apart by devils just as you are.”
It’s one thing to want to follow Christ into the Kingdom of God, but it’s another thing to actually commit to do as Christ instructs.
We have all taken difficult first steps: our first day of school, our first date, or our first day on the job. These experiences empower us to face more difficult first steps like going to an AA meeting, seeing a marriage councilor, or being the first to try a new, experimental treatment for a life-threatening illness.
These steps often transform who we are...they make us, and the world around us, better than before we took that leap of faith. Isn't that the promise Jesus makes to those who follow him? That we will be transformed...made anew...be born from above by the spirit. Faithfully committing to God is difficult, because it is truly life changing. It requires real faith, complete trust, and full commitment. God doesn't want half of our dedication anymore than we want half of God's. We want it all. And so does God.
In this morning's reading, the man who wants eternal life discovers what true commitment entails. If he wants to take that first step into the future...then it's going to cost him. Like so many characters who come to Jesus, we hardly know anything about this guy. Mark tells us he’s a wealthy man. Luke says he’s also a ruler. And in Matthew’s gospel we know him as the rich “young” ruler.
In spite of his age, he is a man of means and a person of power. Perhaps he inherited his wealth. Or perhaps he worked hard to achieve success. What we know for sure is that he says he follows God’s law to the ‘T.’ Of all the stuff he has acquired in his life, he still doesn’t have the one thing his heart desires the most.
In testing his commitment, Jesus tells the man, “Sell everything, and give the money to the poor. And follow me.” I’m sure in hearing this he is just as shocked as the disciples who are listening. The 12 have already given up everything to follow Jesus. Yet they scratch their thick-skulls and wonder, “if a rich person can’t be saved, then who can?”
To us, this might sound like a ridiculous question. But in the ancient world material prosperity was widely seen as a reward or byproduct of spiritual virtue. By this standard, the rich man was obviously blessed by God. One would easily assume eternal life was rightfully his, right? Yet Jesus teaches us that participation in the Kingdom of God will require a new way of living. Everyone who wishes to take the step into the future will have to make a sacrifice. No one knows this better than Jesus himself.
So what is the cost of discipleship? For the rich young man, it means letting go of his money and possessions. Think about it for a second. Could you do it? Give away everything you own and keep nothing for yourself. Without his wealth the man is left vulnerable and powerless. No identity. Or social status. Completely naked in the eyes of the world he knows.
Why would Jesus demand such a thing? To free him. You see the stuff that he possesses keeps him from relying wholly on God’s grace and mercy. And what more do we need to inherit eternal life?
I don’t know about you, but I identify with this man. There were certain things I had to let go of in order to dedicate my life to God. And there were many material objects I had get rid of before we could move into a wonderful, new future here in Greenville. I’ll admit, my heart sank every time I watched my stuff drive off in the back of someone else’s truck.
What I learned by letting those things go was all that stuff I had been carrying around in my life was nothing more than false idols. I had given them too much value. I had allowed them to define who I was. Giving them away freed me to be who God has called me to be. Now it’s God who defines who I am.
When we allow our possessions to get in the way of our relationship with God, they become like those stumbling blocks we spoke about a couple of weeks ago. And if anything causes us to stumble and fall away from God, Jesus says, “cut them out, let them go.”
Now Christian tradition has assumed that the rich, young man went away sorrowful because he did not want to give up all that stuff. But I believe he walks away really ticked off because what Jesus is asking him to do is bound to trigger some crazy emotional feelings. Let’s face it, this is more than letting go of some old pots and pans, or sports memorabilia.
This is real. He has to make a painful life changing decision; one that will possibly affect more than just him. If you’ve gone through a divorce, you know what it's like to lose family and friends, your social community and perhaps business network. He walks away distraught because if he chooses to follow Jesus his life will never be the same again. But isn’t that the point?
Jesus frees us from our past, and gives us a future. But here in the present moment, we've been given a new purpose and new responsibilities. If the man wants to participate in the Kingdom of God he must take that first step into the future no matter what the cost.
So does he? Does he commit to being truly free? Does he make himself vulnerable and weak? Will he rely wholly on God's mercy and grace? I believe he does. And I believe he was transformed as a result. A few chapters later, when Jesus is arrested in the garden and his disciples have fled from him, Mark tells us of an unknown follower.
In Mark 14:51, we read, “A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” Talk about bearing it all for Christ. Either this stranger is the first recorded streaker in the Bible, or it’s the rich, young ruler who literally gave up everything he owned. Again, God wants our whole being. All of us. Not part of us.
Here's why this is important for us today: If we can be truly committed to God, then we can be truly committed to one another. If we can have a real relationship with God, one that is based on mutual faith and trust, then we can form real relationships with our neighbors...where being vulnerable and powerless isn't a liability.
Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God is here. It is literally here in this very sanctuary. This is where we gather to be strengthened and fed, and where we learn how to commit ourselves to be a part of the kingdom. For it’s in the Kingdom of God communities are strengthened; war, violence, poverty, idolatry, and greed no longer control us; we are free from all the stuff that gets in the way of our being fully and wholly with God.
When we take the first step into the future...and commit ourselves to following Christ, we are able to truly love one another and share our peace and joy and prosperity with everyone. The very blessings we receive from God become the blessings Jesus has called us to give freely away. And it's in this new way of living...we find our salvation.
Works CitedBartlett, David. L., Barbara Brown Taylor, eds. Feasting on the Word: Year B. Vol. 4. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.
Bible. New Revised Standard Version. Mark 10:17-27
Jim Wallace, Sojourners Magazine, gives an excellent argument against this stupid idea that more guns make us more safe.
"Saying there is nothing we can do to end such killings is patently untrue. And suggesting that more guns in more places would reduce gun violence is not only morally irresponsible, but also flies in the face of all the facts. Suppose we arm everyone — do we really want to live in that kind of country and raise our children there? Or send our children to college on those campuses, as I will do for the first time next fall? I think there is a better interpretation of the Second Amendment than the idea that the Constitution allows individual citizens to own whatever form of lethal weapons they want.
- See more at: https://sojo.net/articles/nothing-we-can-do-and-other-lies-about-gun-violence#sthash.7qpAOB9x.dpuf
An average of 92 gun deaths happen every day in America. As a result, since 1970, more Americans have died from guns than died in all U.S. wars going back to the American Revolution.
A total of 3380 people have died from terrorism since 2001, while 406,496 people have died from firearms in the same time frame.
Almost 300 mass shootings (defined as shootings where at least 4 people were wounded or killed) have already taken place this year.
More preschoolers (newborns through age 4) are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013).
I want to tell you a story about a man who inherited his father’s crazy but brilliant invention. It was one of those things that is just too complicated to describe. But suffice it to say its purpose was to change the way we live forever.
This inheritance came to a great surprise to the son because the father had not passed on; he simply gave his son the responsibility to bring this crazy thing to life. It was up to him to manage it so that one day he could pass it on to his children.
Before the father handed over the keys to the factory, so to speak, he walked with the son around the place, and showed him the inventory. He laid out the plans and gave him all the tools he needed to make the thing work.
Then, with a quiet pause, he spoke clearly and plainly about a vision he had in mind. It was a good vision; a really good vision, with all the right pieces to be truly revolutionary.
With his father’s blessing, the son rolled up his sleeves and got to work. The first thing he did was to give the inheritance a name, a purpose, a reason for existing. It had to be something that would last throughout the ages.
After that, he took all the pieces, big and small, even the little tiny microscopic ones, and began to organize and categorize them by size, shape, and usefulness.
It didn’t take the son long to discover that he was in way over his head. There was just too much to do. By his own calculations it would take years, if not decades, to organize all the pieces his father had left him. Let alone, name them all.
Exhausted from another hard day at work, the son called his father for help. The father listened to his plea and responded accordingly. The following morning, opportunity would knock. The father had sent a partner to help his son. From that day forward, the world would ever be the same again.
As the inheritance evolved, so did their family. Soon the responsibility was handed over to the next generation of sons and daughters. Like their parents before them, they too would grow and expand the inheritance, only to turn it over to their children and grandchildren.
With each new generation, the inheritance grew and grew and grew. And you might think this was a good thing, but it wasn’t. You see, the bigger the families got, the less connected they became with each other. Pretty soon, they were less willing to work together, less willing to share their ideas and inventory. Competition between cousins and siblings grew fierce. The more they sought to streamline the inheritance, the more they fought over whose way was better.
It didn’t take long for the father’s original vision to be nothing more than a fading memory.
Then one day a child was born; a special child. He was a great distant grandson of the Father. Because the family had become so dysfunctional, his birth was barely noticeable. But as he grew older, many would begin to see how much he was like the one they had only learned about in school.
Yes, he was different all right; for he seemed to understand the original intent and purpose of the inheritance. Like the prophets and visionaries of their ancestors, he realized its power and potential. And often used it to do many good things.
It was like the Inheritance was his purpose,
his reason for being.
It was all he talked about with brothers and sisters, his cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. At the dinner table, on the fishing boats, in the fields and in the markets and the synagogues, he’d shared the good news with anyone who would listen.
Many thought he was a great threat to the inheritance. But others believed he was the great leader who would save it. Those who were listening began to grow in numbers. The father’s vision began to shine again. Soon, strangers and neighbors would gather around him. They wanted to be a part of the inheritance too.
And so the great, distant grandson did something very radical. Something so outrageous it would cause a riff between the families of historic proportions.
What did he do you might ask? He took the inheritance public. He gave it an IPO; offering equity for anyone who wanted it. The market reacted wildly. Stock in the inheritance began to surge. The people couldn’t get enough of it, even though there was plenty for everyone. For this, the world would be forever changed.
But he had to contend with the board members, elders in the family, who felt like they were losing their controlling stake. While they had the power to remove him, which they eventually did, they quickly realized they could not undo what he had done, at least not without paying the price.
Too many people had seen the light. Too many people were vested in its future. The inheritance was too big to be controlled by one family. Instead it moved freely throughout all humanity. The father’s vision had fully come to life.
Today, you and I are all part owners of this crazy but brilliant invention called life. Now it’s up to us to keep it going. We’ve been entrusted to move it forward, to nurture and grow it and share it freely with everyone.
Thanks to the love of the Father we have inherited life. And through the Son, we became heirs of eternal life. Through our inheritance, we’ve taken on the Body of Christ, the universal church.
As the body we are called together in unity and peace, to gather in faith, fellowship, and worship. It is up to us to build up the church and to support its upkeep.
We have been given the responsibility to make sure that the generations to come have something worthy to inherit.
As the Christian Church, we have also been given this table of God’s blessing. We come to this meal to not only remember Christ’s sacrifice for us, but we also come “to touch, smell, taste, hear, and see God’s presence” in this simple bread and cup.
“When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another... When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close. ”
Therefore no one is excluded, and all are free to participate in meeting God here with us today.
Whether you are young or old, rich or poor, full of faith or filled with doubts and fears, the outstretched arms of Jesus exclude no one. Come not because you have to, but because you want to.
 Evans, Rachel Held. Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, Nashville: Nelson Publishing. 2015, p. xvii.
 Nouwen, Henri. Bread for the Journey: a Daybook of Wisdom and Faith. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. p. 296.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one ..."