Ready to Eat

1 Corinthians 11:17-22

Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!

By John Grimm

Over the years as a pastor, I have witnessed individuals refuse to receive Holy Communion.  I know there have been individuals and churches that taught we are not worthy to receive Holy Communion.  However, as we learn from John Wesley, what Jesus commands, we do.

Why do we need Holy Communion?  We need to receive forgiveness from God and be reminded that we have forgiveness from God.  Receiving Holy Communion often helps us to live a forgiven life.  Receiving the broken bread and the poured-out wine also helps us to forgive.  That is why some individuals refuse to receive the bread and the wine.

On occasion, it takes time to forgive someone.  We know we need to forgive.  We know we will be better for it when we do forgive.  Refraining from Holy Communion until we forgive another disciple of Jesus Christ is appropriate.  We need not delay in giving forgiveness, for we know not what tomorrow holds.  Knowing our forgiving another person affects our receiving forgiveness from God changes our understanding of Holy Communion. 

Both forgiving one another and receiving the Lord’s Supper are commands from Jesus.  We can do both.  Receiving the Lord’s Supper without forgiving one another is like eating at home.  We overcome divisions in our local churches when we recognize we are members of the church of God.  We re-member ourselves to the body of Christ when we forgive one another.  Let our love for one another be genuine as we live as the body of Christ, faithfully receiving Holy Communion and forgiving one another.

Jesus, thank you for dying for us.  You have shown us how to forgive one another.  As we forgive one another we can eat the Lord’s Supper.  Thank you for your commands which give us life.  Heal the divisions in our local churches so the world can see the Body of Christ living in our local churches.  Amen.

Pick Up Your Mat

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Matthew 9:2-8 (NLT)

Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for giving humans such authority.

If you’re a Christian, you already accept what the religious leaders in this story could not: Jesus is divine, God in flesh. He has the authority to forgive sins.

We see God’s love shown in two different ways here. The man brought to Jesus is paralyzed. His physical impediment has caused his friends to carry him before Jesus, known mostly at this point as a healer and a prophet. But Jesus doesn’t heal him right away, probably to trigger the religious leaders’ indignation and set up a powerful revelatory moment about who Jesus is.

“Your sins are forgiven.” If these words truly have meaning, how powerful they are! Regardless of our worldly circumstances, regardless of what we may suffer in this life, they are the most powerful words we will ever hear.

And we do hear them still today. Lord willing, we will have communion at Holston View UMC this Sunday. Because of Covid-19, we will handle communion differently, but we will engage with God in this sacrament of cleansing and forgiveness.

Following the liturgy’s call to reflection and confession, I will have the tremendous privilege of saying, “Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”

Acknowledging that I am just as much in need of forgiveness, those present will respond, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”

Beyond that moment, we will be wise to watch for signs of God’s power at work in our lives, in particular evidence of healing. In the Bible story, as a sign of God’s presence in Jesus, the paralyzed man is able to pick up his mat and walk.

Perhaps we too will see physical healing—if we do, we should declare to others what we have seen. Miraculous healings continue to happen to encourage a world needing to know God is present.

More importantly, there will be spiritual healing. The sins that burden us will be shaken off. We can pick up our lives as people who walk fearlessly with God, thanks be to Jesus Christ!

Lord, we are so grateful that Jesus came among us filled with your power and Spirit, and that your Holy Spirit remains among us today. Amen.

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