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“Passing Through The Shadows!” 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Key verse(s): 26:“‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’.”
“Smile and the world smiles with you! Cry and you cry alone.” Walking through life with a smile on our faces is something to hope for, isn’t it? Life it far too short to be all gloom and sadness. Like the old song says, if you smile you draw crowds. When you cry you draw isolation and loneliness.
From an early age on we are taught not be be gloomy. There’s something about being around a person who is sad that simply repels us. Most of us will resort to nothing less than our best efforts to either avoid the gloom or change it somehow. Recently I returned home from a long day at the office dragging pretty much everything that I had encountered that day behind me. As I slipped in through the garage door into the entry way, so slipped in the meeting that had not gone well, the invoice that turned out to be more than I had planned, and the angry telephone call I had taken. Plop, they landed on the floor right beside my briefcase. Somehow I knew they were still there because even when I tried to refocus my thoughts on home and family, all I could think of was the office. I guess it was pretty evident on my face as I walked into the kitchen, shuffling across the floor in my slippers, mostly looking past my children and wife. They could see it written all over my face. “Had a bad day, huh?” “Yeah, the worst!” And I plunged into a lengthy dissertation on the woes of the day; moving back and forth between diatribe and regret. They had had a great day but now, as they listened to my woes, somehow their days had not been as good as they had thought. In fact, it wasn’t long before they were able to match woe for woe with the “king of woes”. My sorrow had magically become their sorrow. My sorrow like a drop of black ink in water slowly spread its inky murk throughout their clear and sunny day. “Gloom and doom, meet happy and promising!” Like that bothersome gab that grabs your hand and makes it serve as a sort of freeway for their emotions, gloom and doom simply won’t let go until they have poured themselves into you completely.
Carry our sorrow and laying it on others is not a very good idea. Yet, how can one be happy all the time? Isn’t there ever a place for sorrow, at least to balance out the brilliance of the light from time to time? In northern Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, lies a narrow strip of land where the sun shines every day! Clouds gather so seldom over the valley that one can say, “It almost never rains here!” Morning after morning the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains to the east. Each noon it shines brightly overhead, and every evening it brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen rising high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks hand their gray curtains far over the sea, Old Sol continues to shed his warming rays upon this “favored” and protected strip of territory. One might imagine this area to be an earthly paradise, but is far from that! It is a sterile and desolate wilderness! There are no streams of water, and nothing grows there.
We often long for total sunshine and continuous joy in life, and we desire to avoid the heartache that bring tears to our eyes. Like that sunny, unfertile part of Chile, however, life without clouds and even an occasional downpour would not be productive or challenging. But though showers do come, they will also end, and the sun will shine again. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). (Our Daily Bread.)
Total sunshine in life? Let’s face it. That is never going to happen. In fact, there will always be a proper place for sorrow in life. I’m not talking about the impertinent spreading of your own personal gloom on people. Nobody needs that. No, I’m talking about the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and forgiveness of sins. When Jesus passed the cup to his disciples and broke the bread between his fingers at that last communing supper together, His soul was filled with a kind of sorrow that was truly appropriate and necessary for the moment. His soul was, as Martin Luther put it, “empty, single, and hungry”. His soul was prepared for the task ahead and He was demonstrating to His disciples how that sorrow could and would turn into joy. But first it must pass through the shadows and dwell in the darkness of sin. Here the soul must weep and by that invisible cleansing be able to behold more clearly the land of sweet light and happiness that awaits it if only it can endure the sorrow for but a short time longer. Yes, there is a time for sorrow when we rightly park our joy and walk some distance away from the light toward the shadowland where we find the source of that nagging that is constantly beating upon the doors of our souls. Here we too shall find the emptiness that makes preparation for being filled.
Jerome, the Church historian, relates of the Apostle John that, when he became old he used to go among the churches and assemblies, everywhere repeating the words, “Little children, love one another.” His disciples, wearied by the constant repetition, asked him why he always said this. “Because,” he replied, “it is the Lord’s commandment; and if it only be fulfilled, it is enough.” John knew that the greatest truth was most apt to be forgotten because it was taken for granted. This is one of the greatest calamities in the Christian Church and one that causes divisions.
A. Todd Coget
1 Corinthians 6:16-6:16
1 Corinthians 11:11-11:11
I'M STANDING FOR MY MARRIAGE
A former Pastor in Seattle, WA wrote a power statement about marriage…
I am standing for the healing of my marriage!
I won’t give up, give in, give out, or give over till that healing takes place.
I made a vow; I said the words; I gave the pledge; I gave a ring; I took a ring; I gave myself; I trusted God; and said the words and meant the words…in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in good times and in bad; so I’m standing now, and won’t sit down, let down, slow down, calm down, fall down, look down, or be down till the breakdown is torn down!
I refuse to put my eyes on outward circumstances; or listen to prophets of doom, or buy into what’s trendy, worldly, popular, convenient, easy, quick, thrifty, or advantageous.
Nor will I settle for a cheap imitation of God’s real thing.
Nor will I seek to lower God’s standard, twist God’s will, rewrite God’s Word, violate God’s covenant, or accept what god hates, namely divorce.
In a world of filth, I will stay pure.
Surrounded by lies, I will speak the truth.
Where hopelessness abounds, I will hope in God.
Where revenge is easier, I will bless instead of curse, and when the odds are stacked against me, I’ll trust in God’s faithfulness.
FOR EVERYONE-COMMUNION MEDITATION
James W. Moore of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston tells a story about one of his minister friends. His name is Tom and he does a fascinating thing each month. Even though he has an extremely busy schedule he still makes the time each month to go down to the homeless shelter in his city to work in their soup kitchen.
After the homeless people have been fed, he then invites them to join him in a service of Holy Communion and many of them will come with him to the little chapel in the homeless shelter. and join in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. They have shared soup together in the soup kitchen and then they come to share the bread and the cup together at the altar in the chapel.
One day, Tom had an unforgettable experience in the communion service. As he was moving down the altar serving communion, he came to a man kneeling there who looked like he had been out on the streets for quite some time.
The man looked up at Tom and whispered: "Skip me." "What? Pardon me?" Tom said. In a louder whisper, the man said again, "Skip me." "Why?" Tom asked. "Because," the man said, "I’m not worthy." Tom said: "Neither am I." Then Tom added: "I’ll tell you what. I’m going to serve communion to these other people. Then, I’m going to come back and serve communion to you and then I would like you to serve it to me." The man blinked and said to Tom: "Father, is that legal?" "Yes, it’s legal; it’s beautiful and that’s
what we are going to do!" Tom answered.
Tom went on down the altar and served all the other people kneeling there. Then he came back to the reluctant man and said: "What’s your name?" And the man said, "Josh." Tom placed the elements of the Lord’s Supper before him and said:
"Josh, here is the Body of Christ and here is the Blood of Christ given for you. Eat this and drink this in the remembrance that Christ came for you and Christ died for you. Amen."
Josh blinked back the tears in his eyes. and he received Holy Communion. Then, Tom knelt and handed Josh the trays of bread and wine and said: "Now, you serve me."
Josh nervously took the trays and again he said: "Father,
On their 50th wedding anniversary, a couple summed up the reason for their long and happy marriage.
The husband said, "I have tried never to be selfish. After all, there is no ’I’ in the word ‘marriage.’”