I will do my best to have a weekly email go out every Tuesday morning. This communication will contain a written summary of the sermon, some follow up questions the sermon raises, birthdays for the week, the daily Bible readings, weekly announcements, calendar events, and prayer needs raised over the last week. It is my hope that this can continue long after the corona virus crisis is over, so we can remain as connected as possible as a church!
JUICE AND BREAD? –based on 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
When I was on the conference call with over 3800 ministers from across the commonwealth with Governor Northam, I like so many became distracted. Instead of being able to focus on the resources that were available for us all, my eye caught a huge dispute that was unfolding in the chat bar. There was an argument, using scripture from all involved, about whether we should listen to the mandate to close church or not. Instead of being one body, our witness at least to Governor Northam’s staff was that we are not one. We as a universal church are a mess!
If there was any church that was similar to the church in the United States today, it was the Corinthian church. This church had a wide range of problems and arguments, ranging from theological perspectives, definitions of sin, matters of conscience, arrogance related to spiritual gifts, taking each other to court, and even disagreements over the offering! Yet despite the lengthy letters to this body, there was only one area that Paul not only rebuked them, but said twice that he could not praise the church–in how they handle communion!
First, the Corinthian church was a divided body. This was the original Republican vs Democrat and conservative vs progressive situation! If there is anything we are good at as human beings, it is arguing with one another and becoming offended by each other, starting with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 and Cain and Abel in Genesis 4! This church was no different–they were trying to outdo each other in saying who had the favor of God! Whose theology is right? That means the other one is wrong! “I am speaking for God and operating prophetically”–which means that you are not! This division created rifts within the congregation, causing there to be splinter groups.
Second, the Corinthian church was a detached body. In other words, they had lost a level of connection with all of their membership. The early churches were house churches, and it was no different in Corinth. Most homes had two gathering areas: the triclinium and atrium. The triclinium would be the area the socially elite would gather. Here they would enjoy the finest of foods, richest of fare, and choicest wines. However, everyone else that did not qualify for the social elite would gather in the atrium, where they would see most of the time either see left overs or inferior food, often that which was left over from temple sacrifices to idols. When they would gather, the elite would gather before those who were not, and so they would not wait for the whole body to gather before they ate their fill and got drunk. By the time some would arrive, there would be no food left, so some were hungry while others were drunk. And this was done during the Love Feast!
Do these types of divisions and detachments exist today? It is no secret that we are living in a divided time. But if there is any one place where the division is quite evident, it is revealed when it comes to communion. For many, communion is far more than a cracker of bread or a small cup of juice. We take it so seriously, as we should, that many of us choose to abstain from the elements when they are distributed. Even this past year at Annual Conference, when we had a denomination wide Love Feast, roughly 33% did not attend Love Feast because they could not do so in good conscience. Clearly, we are divided.
But what about detached? Are we concerned for the whole body? When we make decisions, are we thinking about the impact on each other?
There were two other main issues with the Corinthian church, revealed in this chapter. Third, they were a disconnected body. The elements of communion had lost its meaning. It was something they simply did because that is what they were supposed to do. They did not dwell on the fact that the bread represented Jesus’ broken body, the atoning sacrifice for our sins. They did not reflect upon the cup as Jesus’ poured out blood, which provided forgiveness of sins and ushered in the new covenant. They lost sight that when they took the elements, there were reminding themselves that Jesus would return. It was nothing more than a religious exercise.
Is communion nothing more than a religious exercise, something we do because we should? Or do we dwell on what everything means?
Last, the Corinthian church was a disillusioned body. When they took the elements, they participated in an unworthy manner. They did not examine themselves, and in turn became sick as they ate judgment upon themselves. They missed the point that communion is anchored in relationship. How do we know we are taking it properly? Is our heart right with God? How is our relationship with him? How are we with our fellow brother and sister? When we are at odds with each other, do we take the steps to make things right? Do we work toward reconciliation, just as Jesus reconciled us to the Father? As I stated above, I was grieved that so many chose not to participate in Love Feast at Annual Conference. But they at least did the examination and realized they could not take it in good conscience.
However there is one other very important piece in our examination. We also need to make sure the whole body is connected! We might not be at odds with a specific brother or sister, but if we ignore an entire section of the body, we are still not including the whole body. I think it is very telling that immediately after his admonishment on communion, Paul goes into a teaching on the body of Christ. We are not meant to be half a body! We need each other. Otherwise, we are “sick”, not functioning as well as we can be.
Right now more than ever the world needs a healthy, unified church, who can bring the healing presence of Jesus forth into this land. But we, like Corinth, are divided, detached, disconnected, and disillusioned. Let us at Beaver Creek come together, lead the way, and as one body embody what communion is all about. It is far more than bread and juice!
Questions for reflection
1) Is there one whom we need to work toward reconciliation?
2) How can we have different perspectives and theological viewpoints and still function together as the body of Christ?
3) Which groups do we inadvertently ignore within the body? How can we include them?
4) Which groups do we still need to reach? Do you have any creative ideas to be Jesus to them?
Pastor Ryan will preach the sermon titled, “From Hosanna! to Crucify!” based upon Matthew 21:12-17, 33-46. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he entered to the cry of “Hosanna.” But by the time he left the city, he was escorted out to his death with the cry of “Crucify!” What happened which led a city to turn so quickly? Tune in to find out
Daily Bible Readings for March 31 – April 6
March 31: Isaiah 52:13-53:12 How was Jesus the Passover lamb? How was he the scapegoat?
April 1: John 6:35-58 How was Jesus the bread of life?
April 2: Hebrews 9:11-28 How has the blood of Christ changed the trajectory of our living?
April 3: Revelation 5 What was the result of the blood of Christ?
April 4: Revelation 7:9-17 What is the hope for all washed in the blood of Christ?
April 5: Matthew 21:28-32 How does the parable of the two sons relate to those who accept Jesus and reject him?
April 6: Mark 14:1-10 What prompted Judas to betray Jesus?
Beaver Creek will be closed through the end of April, in keeping with Executive Order 53 and the recommendation of the Shenandoah District and the Leadership Team.
The Leadership Team’s guidance in its meeting on March 19 was to reevaluate each month based upon the current recommendation of the governor. Yesterday, March 30, Governor Northam announced Executive Order 55, a stay at home order with continuing guidance on rule of ten through June 10th. This will have potential lasting impacts for us at Beaver Creek, including the Mother-Daughter banquet.
For Camp Brethren Woods, the order pretty much cancels Spring Festival and actually would go through the first week of summer camp. Most of the camp’s revenue comes from Spring Festival and the rental groups–which have all had to postpone at least through June 10th.
The Shenandoah District Disaster Auction will also have to be postponed under this new Executive Order.
Livestream of the Sunday morning service will continue. We are working on creative ways for us to “come together” as a church without physically coming together.
We are working on a plan for Easter Sunday. Please stay tuned!
We have postponed Love Feast until the first Sunday we are able to gather back together again. We will honor it in the evening at 6 pm whichever Sunday that is, UNLESS it is Mother’s Day; then we will have Love Feast the following Sunday.
Thank you to all who have volunteered to help with calling members of the congregation through this time. Pastor Ryan will also be calling as well!
Pastor Ryan will be conducting a Lenten Bible Study on Wednesday at 7 pm via Zoom. Unfortunately, the free version no longer has the ability to include phone participants. Will work on this for next week! The link to join via Zoom is: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/822797310.
Four Ways to Give! With the extended closure, this is greatly necessary.
1) Direct Deposit–form available on the website
2) Mail your tithe into the church office
3) Drop it by church office on Tuesday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
4) New online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
Also, this Sunday is a First Sunday. The First Sunday offering this month is for the Ottobine backpack food program–which is very vital in this time! You can either mark that on the envelope, or through the online giving platform (give it until at least Wednesday to make sure everything is functioning properly!).
Other Coronavirus Guidance From Governor Northam
1) It has been recently determined that the virus remains in the air for at least three hours, and can simply be passed on by breath. So the idea of being outside six feet apart is misinformation. Please stay home and only go out if it is “essential.”
2) The rule of 10 applies in every gathering, including outdoor gatherings AND funerals.
3) Please take the time to complete the census. The census will determine representation in congress and federal $$ coming into the state.
4) If your annual salary is less than $17,238, you are eligible for medicaid under the medicaid expansion.
5) If you are in need of help, please contact us here at the church, or go to 211virginia.org which has a database by area to access services available in our area.
6) If you or someone you know is concerned about food for your children, the schools are tasked with providing meals for children who are present. It doesn’t matter what school your child attends; just attend your nearest site. We have two close by, at Ottobine and Pence.
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB