Camping Trip 2010 Sermon: Inclusion
July 25, 2010
Scripture reading: romans 15:5-7
I am having a lot of fun...
Q Kids: What has been your favorite part?
Now let’s get to business. We are continuing on our Inscription series. We have a lot of ground to cover, but I think I should be able to get it done in about an hour...
Exclusive or inclusive?
The purpose of our camping trip is to bring glory to God by building Christian community. But we have managed to disguise it as having fun. Pretty clever, huh?
But we need to be careful here, because we are always in danger of building the wrong kind of community. What do I mean? We can build an exclusive community rather than an inclusive community.
· Exclusive: Cliques, hard to get in, lots of inside jokes, etc.
· Inclusive: Welcoming everyone in, as Christ accepted us, and the tax collector and prostitute, the wealthy and important.
· (Beware of going too far, as to no longer be Christian.)
The challenge is there’s always a natural slide from inclusive to exclusive. Why because we like to be comfortable. It is easier to keep with the friends you have than to make new ones.
· This is the reason for Cecil’s challenge on Friday.
I think as a church we do an admirable job, and I am proud of the way a visitor is greeted, and that new attenders are welcomed into our lives.
So keep up the good work, but we also need to excel in this, both because of the natural slide, but also because the need is going to grow.
This is a little different from a sermon, more of a membership meeting, because I look to you as the core who are a big part of what God is doing here:
This isn’t theoretical, it’s very important because of what God has in store for The Gathering. We (the Elders and Deacons) have been looking ahead to 2011, and we believe God has big plans for us, and that we are going to grow both in depth and size.
We are really excited for it, but it means that we have to be welcoming people into the community.
· God could send 100 people into our church, but if you don’t welcome them in, only 1-2 of them will stay.
Q Are we an inclusive or exclusive community? Can people get in?
Q Are you inclusive or exclusive?
Don’t be too fast to answer that with the right answer. This community is made up of all of you, and if you are exclusive, we will be. So if you are being exclusive, you need to honestly confront it.
· Fear of letting someone else in?
· Selfishness with your time?
There is no doubt that being inclusive takes energy. Reading a book that talks about connecting, and connecting takes energy: Taking initiative, serving others, being patient.
· This isn’t about introvert vrs. extrovert; it’s not a gift only some have – we are all commanded to welcome others in.
Why should I?
Of course we all are internally asking the question, why should I go to all that work? I could point you to all the Scriptures: Practice hospitality (Romans 12:13), blessed to be a blessing, but I think we know we should welcome others in.
Instead, I will ask you a question: Are you in the church to serve or be served? Asked another way, are you a mature Christian or immature Christian?
So what do we need to do that we are not already doing?
1. Pray and look for opportunities to bring our friends and family into our community.
2. Welcome them when they get here – you are the hosts to this home.
Camping Trip 2010 Sermon: Communion
1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-26
July 24, 2010
I have really been looking forward to this communion meal for a long time, because this is closer to communion in the early church of anything I have ever done (or “love feasts”).
Q What’s the difference? Two things:
1. We are taking it as part of a feast.
The early church knew nothing a wafer dipped in wine or juice. Communion was an entire feast, of which the breaking of bread and sharing wine was the central part.
The feast was meant to look forward to the “wedding feast of the lamb” as Revelation calls it. Remember Jesus said
Luke 22:15-16 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
We celebrate this feast looking forward to its fulfillment. This is meant to “wet our appetite” for the real thing.
Isaiah 25:6-8 6 ¶ On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-- the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
Which prepares us better, some bread and wine, or a feast? Granted, it is not mandated by Scripture, and logistics require the simple version.
The symbolism that Jesus used built off of Jewish Passover traditions and empathized the joy of communion:
a. Bread symbolized life, as it’s sustenance (the staff of life) – “I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly.”
b. Wine symbolizes joy, filled to the brim.
But at the same time he took these Jewish symbols and brought new meaning into them: they represent his body broken for us and his blood shed for us – our life cost him his.
· So this is a solemn joy.
2. As a community
Community was never meant to be as individuals, but as a body. It also represents our part in the church community. Said another way, participation in his body:
NIV 1 Corinthians 10:16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
“Body of Christ” can either mean his physical body or the church, and the fact that in the next sentence it means “church,” I think it means church.
· Communion pull us together as a body.
To sum it all up: We take communion here, as a community, remembering the price Jesus paid so that we can be filled with life and joy, looking forward to the real feast in heaven.
· Have two kids read 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 and 11:25-26.