Come and See! Come! Follow! Reflect on following Jesus. What does it mean to be a disciple?
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica seeking to calm anxieties surrounding his absence. He encourages the church to be faithful and speaks to the hope of Christ. Reminding them that the life of a Christian is focused on Christ. He sums up the life of a disciple in his benediction:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks always. These are powerful commands. We can remember the story of Brother Lawrence when we seek to pray without ceasing. He taught himself to always be in conversation with God. This opened his mind’s eye to the point that he could notice a twig on the path and move it as an act of worship because God made him sensitive that someone could trip on the twig later.
I think of my childhood pastor’s mother who would walk around everywhere whispering under her breath. She was saying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” all the time to remind herself of her purpose. These three activities are marks of a Christian and what Steve Harper includes as marks of a Methodist.
When I think of these marks I am drawn to worship. John Wesley once wrote a sermon entitled The Duty of Constant Communion. Wesley proposes that it is the responsibility of Christians to receive communion as often as they can. Jesus’ command to “do this in remembrance of me” is among the reasons Wesley gives for receiving Holy Communion as often as possible.
The ancient term for Holy Communion is Eucharist and means “thanksgiving” or “rejoicing”. We see that Communion is an external sign of the internal work we do of giving thanks for God’s presence among and within us. Next time we celebrate the Lord’s Table pay attention to the service.
The Table Service is prayer. There is the anamnesis in which we remember the work of God in the creation of the cosmos and institution of the table by acting out the Last Supper. There is the epiclesis in which we call down the presence of God in a special way. We remember our baptism and our adoption as children when we pray the Lord’s Prayer together.
The Orthodox priest Alexander Schmemann challenges each Christian to live the day through the lens of communion. We live each day bowing before God Most High. We live each day blessing what seem like ordinary aspects of life. We live each day rejoicing even when we carry deep hurt. We live each day seeking to be drawn closer to God and one another. We live each day offering ourselves and our gifts to one another as expressions of Christ’s love and sacrifice.
Elkhorn Hills United Methodist Church may you rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Amen!
Hope and Renewal, Pastor Daniel