Oct 06

Your Church Is Too Small

I have good news for you this morning: your church is too small. Your church is too small! Now, I imagine you’ve heard that before, and I’m willing to bet that the last time you heard it, it didn’t sound like good news. Maybe you heard it in a meeting with the district superintendent: I’m sorry, she said, but your church is too small to support a full-time pastor. I’m sorry, but you’re too small to be on your own anymore.

Or maybe you heard it from a visitor one Sunday morning: I love your church, he said. The people here are friendly, and you obviously love to be together for worship. I wish I could stick around, but your church is too small. I’m looking for something bigger.

Or maybe you have found yourself saying it in at church council one night: It would be nice, you said, if we could do more for our community, but we’re just too small. We don’t have the resources.

“Your church is too small.” It doesn’t sound like good news, but today, on World Communion Sunday, at this Community Worship Service, it is the gospel, the good news, we need to hear. Your church is too small, but Christ’s church—ahh, that’s a different story entirely. Continue reading

Aug 25

The Eucharist: Spirit and Life

It is, without a doubt, the church dedication service to end all church dedication services, a festival for celebrating a new worship building like none other. For generations the ark of God has gone about in a tabernacle, in a tent that moved with the people of God, the people of Israel. And now, Solomon, king of Israel, stands before his people at the altar of a new house for God, one that will not move. The image of God as a pilgrim with a journeying people that the ark and the tabernacle presented is being replaced by a new vision: of God resting with God’s people and of those people journeying in pilgrimage to the place God dwells. Continue reading

Aug 16

Eucharist: Spiritual Food

The Eucharist, the meal of holy communion at the heart of our worship here at Centre, the meal really at the heart of all Christian worship, has infinite dimensions. From the elements of bread and wine to the people who gather around the table, from the prayers we offer as we prepare for communion to the eternal Triune Lord who meets us here each time, the mystery of Eucharist unfolds unendingly for us, a foretaste of the eternal feast at Christ’s heavenly banquet.

This month I’ve felt called to preach on just five dimensions of Eucharist, and in each sermon I’m using a simple three-sided pattern: on one side, the words of Jesus from John 6; on the next side, the Old Testament lesson; and on the third side, some words or actions from our own weekly service of holy communion. So two weeks ago, we grappled with the importance of confession before thanksgiving as we heard Jesus say, “I am the bread of life,” as we listened to Nathan confront King David, and as we reflected on our saying a prayer of confession each Sunday. And last week we paused to remember that the grace we receive is costly grace. The Father draws all who come to Christ, Jesus tells us, but we are drawn by a wounded love the does not pretend there are no consequences to our sin. David’s own son Absalom died as a consequence of David’s sin. And in our prayer of Great Thanksgiving we are reminded that Eucharist is a sacrifice, the sacrifice of our lives, our praise, and our thanksgiving, in union with Christ’s offering for us in his self-sacrifice upon the cross. Continue reading

Aug 16

Eucharist: Drawn By Love’s Wounds

We are now in week two of our sermon series, Eucharist. Eucharist is a name for the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, or holy communion. It comes from the Greek word eucharisto, which means, “I give thanks.” And even though we usually call this sacred meal holy communion at Centre, each week we also celebrate Eucharist through the central prayer of the Great Thanksgiving. And each week this month we are discussing different aspects of and various ways God addresses us through this holy mystery. The series itself was sparked by words from Jesus in John 6, which we heard last week and again this morning in the gospel reading: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Continue reading

Aug 04

Eucharist: Confession and Pardon

This morning we begin a 5-week sermon series on the Eucharist. Each Sunday in the month of August we will consider different aspects of this holy mystery, of this great sacrament. But before we can really even begin, we need to ask a question: what is the Eucharist?

The word itself comes from a Greek word for what Jesus does in John 6:11, which we read last week; before the feeding of the 5000, John tells us that “Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated.” The Greek word for “give thanks” is eucharisto, and from very early on the church called the meal it celebrated together the Eucharist, the meal of thanksgiving. Other names for this meal include the Lord’s Supper, which is what Paul calls it in 1 Corinthians 11, and holy communion, which is what we usually call this meal at Centre. Even for us, though, the central prayer of holy communion is the Great Thanksgiving. That’s when we begin, “The Lord be with you/And also with you; Lift up your hearts/We lift them up to the Lord; Let us give thanks to the Lord our God/It is right to give our thanks and praise.” And then we give thanks to God the Father for Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Continue reading