Proper 16: Covenant between God and Us, Meaning Being the Church

BetheChurch-Logo2Hi everyone,

Today marks another Sunday of me not going to church.  While I miss communion, I don’t miss singing songs on how Jesus is God or listening to a alarmingly conservative sermon.  I’ve been enjoying sleeping in during my Home Church Sundays, so this Sunday is no different.

In John 6:56-69, Jesus concludes his synagogue speech about how he is the bread of life, and all that feed on him will obtain Eternal Life.  But people are confused and many of his disciples leave him!  Then Jesus looks to the twelve disciples, and asks “Do you also wish to go away?” I imagine in this part that Jesus is heart-broken, yet Peter answers in earnest: ‘”Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God,”‘ (John 6:66-69).

There are times when we are asked to believe and walk in the light of God.  Jesus, in this speech of his body as the bread of life, asks us to have faith and to continue that faith.  And from what we can learn from our other readings, Jesus’ body and blood are the symbols of God’s new Covenant with Israel (and later Gentiles).  In 1 King 8, Solomon dedicates the Temple for God and reaffirms the covenant between Israel and Him.  Solomon says, “‘Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and steadfast love for your servants who walk before you with all their heart, 24 the covenant that you kept for your servant my father David as you declared to him; you promised with your mouth and have this day fulfilled with your hand,'” (1 Kings 8:23).  God is a covenant keeper, and we are asked to be keepers of that covenant as well.  Even in Ephesians 6:10-20, we are asked to put on the Armor of God, to keep steadfast to God and Jesus.  

But what does it mean to hold fast to the Covenant we entered into at baptism?  Even on a Sunday where I have neglected the church building, I have not neglected Christ’s body, the covenant people.  I have not neglected Church as a whole.  In fact, I’d like to believe I am standing steadfast to God’s people, whether I interact with them via twitter, this blog, or Instagram.  Social media is a powerful tool to still BE the Church with others.

Being the Church means worshiping, even virtually, with other Christians.  It means serving the least of these because they are the greatest in the Kingdom.  It means reading the scriptures and listening to Worship/Gospel music.  It means checking up on people and praying with them.  Anything and everything is about being the Church.  The church is not a building – it is a people dedicated to Jesus and his teachings.

Right now, I’m planning on having prayers sessions with my Mom (a fellow Unitarian Christian) and doing some hard-core Bible study.  It means making sure my husband and my sister (and future-sister in law)’s needs are being met.  It means praying for those in need.  If I had any money, I’d donate to certain charities to help those afflicted with trouble.  We can all serve Christ, even in little ways, as we Be the church this Sunday.  It doesn’t have to be some grand way to be the Church; it could just mean private prayer and worship with ourselves or others, if we don’t have anyone of our faith near us.

I pray that you will Be the Church this Sunday, and hold fast to the Covenant with God.  Even if you can’t attend church this Sunday, find just little ways to hold steadfast to Christ and his Father.

Alleluia and Amen.

Thanks,
Leigh Todd

Proper 15: Endure, Christians…Come and only Believe

jesus-suffers-the-little-children-to-come-unto-himOn Friday, I was reading an article about Aretha Franklin and her faith story. In it, it states that no matter what happened in her life, whether it be her health, her music, or her personal life, she always clung to faith in God. As one author put it, “In the end, it’s called faith. It’s how we get over. It’s how we survive the storms. It’s what sustains us, carries us, through the uncertain journey.”¹ Christ, in this Gospels reading, asks us to do the same in a really weird and peculiar metaphor.

Christ says to feed on him, as “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them,” (John 6:56).  While this sounds kind of creepy, Jesus, as in the whole of the Gospel of John, is asking us to have faith. Just as Jesus said a few weeks ago, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, or whoever believes in me will never go thirsty.”

Coming to Christ and believing in Him. That sounds so terribly easy – it’s like we’ve been taught that our whole childhood. Yet, for some people, life’s battles challenge how there could be a God that would allow such bad things to happen. Later in John, Jesus talks about how those who remain in him as branches on a vine, obtain eternal life: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you can bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…,” (John 15:5).

Jesus was being serious, but in a loving way – he is asking then, and now, to endure in faith.  To come unto Christ and his salvation.  To endure as Christians does not mean live perfect lives, but to hold unto that promise Christ made when he said all that believe in him will obtain eternal life, free from pain and tears.

And when we come unto Christ, the Son of God, we are never alone.  We’ve got God as our Creator, and Jesus as our best friend.  We are never alone.  We will never go hungry again.

Nothing like coming to Christ and his Salvation coming in play in your own life. This week, my family’s faith was tested to the max. On Thursday, my Mom was assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. Because she fought back, she was also charged with assault. She’s spending time in jail, so far, this weekend because we couldn’t get the money for bail – $500 for a woman defending herself as her ex pulled her hair and dragged her away. That entire night and still today, I’ve been praying to God to get her out of jail. You can certainly say our faith has been tested. But, I’m being reminded once again that God does not leave us. He asks us to come unto Christ and be comforted by the Son of God, who graciously gave his life so that one day there won’t be any more tears. God can’t promise there won’t be pain, but he can promise that Christ will be there for us, if only we seek Christ and endure as Christians!

The Word of the Lord. Alleluia and Amen.

Also, if you want to donate for the bail money for Mom, here ya go: https://www.gofundme.com/q7jqec-help-us-get-our-mom-out-of-jail

  1. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/august-web-only/aretha-franklin-died-tribute.html (Article by Robert F. Darden)

Life Update: Enjoying the Sun

IMG_20180812_160521294Hi everyone,

Today marks another Sunday of me skipping church.  I was really tired this morning, so I slept in.  Other than Home Church, I’ll be going to my Mom’s and chilling with family.  I’m also hoping to enjoy a home-made frappe in the sun as I do Bible study.  Currently, I’m studying the topic of Prison and Paradise in the New Testament, and how Jesus preached the Gospel to those in Prison (Gehenna; not Abraham’s Bosom).

It’s a frustrating study, as Catholics teach that Jesus preached to those with Abraham (even though 1 Peter 3-4 says he preached to those who had been disobedient to God at the Flood).  And then there’s the Mormons, who don’t believe believers go to Heaven after they die.  I’m very conflicted on different churches’ teachings.  The only thing I can do is stick my studying and beliefs, as I believe Jesus preached to both the disobedient and those with Abraham, and brought paradise to Heaven (Ephesians 4:8-10).  The only thing to remember is that when we die, we go to be with Jesus and God.  When Jesus preached to those in the Underworld, he allowed Old Testament characters to hear the Gospel and be redeemed as well.  While they will be judged in physical form at the Resurrection, they live in Spirit with God (1 Peter 4).

Nowadays, it’s up to us to spread the Gospel everywhere so that every soul will be saved.  And to add my own personal note, I believe Hell is only temporary – it’s like a refining fire for those who rejected the Gospel or didn’t hear about it beforehand.  I believe in a God of justice, but also in a God of mercy!

(As you can tell, I go against practically every other church’s teachings and forge my own way!  I encourage you to do the same!)

As for a life update, I’m waiting to hear back on a job, to see if I got it or not.  I’m praying and hoping I do!  I’ve also decided to attend First Christian Church in York again, this time with my Mom.  I won’t always be able to attend FCC in Lincoln, because 1) the distance, 2) the cost of gas, and 3) the weather.  Any winter storm will be keeping me home this Christmas season.  So, I’m hoping against hope that I’ll be welcomed in York’s church.  With my Mom coming, I’m hoping she’ll add some encouragement and strength my way.

That’s all!

Thanks,
Leigh Todd

Proper 13: Feeding on Christ

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Jesus is the Bread of Life.  Picture from lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/

Hi everyone,

It’s another week of Home Church, where I got to sleep in and read the Bible.  In my regular Bible reading, I’m in Matthew 25 (my favorite chapter ever!).  With this weeks’ lectionary, though, we are in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verses 24-35.  Here, Jesus compares himself to the manna that God gave while the Israelites were wandering through the desert for forty years.  The disciples ask Jesus to give this bread of life always, and Jesus explains how he IS the bread of life:

24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which[a] comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

In essence, we must feed off Jesus.

Without that sounding cannibalistic, we must understand what this means.  In Mormonism, feeding off of Jesus means eating up his words in the Bible.  In Lutheranism, it means eating the literal body and blood (bread and wine) of Christ at communion.  In Methodism, it means accepting and feeding off the means of grace through the symbolic blood and body of Christ at communion.

But what does it mean to feed off the manna of Christ in the Disciples of Christ tradition?  It essence, two of these examples.  Communion is a time to remember Christ for his sacrifice, our pledge to follow God’s Son at Baptism, and to celebrate his glorious return.  It’s a reminder that, even though the bread and wine are symbolic, they represent so much.  They represent, for one, that we are forgiven, that Christ did the ultimate deed and made us white as snow at baptism.  So when we feed off of the symbolic bread and wine, we feed on the Good News – that we are forgiven.

We also feed off Christ’s words in the Gospels.  What Christ taught, we should emulate (such as Matthew 25 – to care for the least of these) and teach our children, such as loving God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Lastly, especially in our tradition, we should feed on the presence of Christ.  Christ is the giver of Eternal Life, and all who come to Him he will never deny.  Whoever comes to Christ will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty.  Christ is our best friend, and we should always come to Him.  And if we ever lose faith in Christ, we are always welcomed back with open arms, even if we had sacrificed our salvation for only a little while (or 20 years)!

So feed on Christ.  Feed on his words, his symbolic supper and all that it entails, and his presence in our lives as our friend and giver of Eternal Life.  He is truly the Manna given by the Father for all who seek God and Christ!

Alleluia and Amen.

Love, Leigh Todd.