Summary: Jesus says, "I AM the Good Shepherd." "I lay down my life for my sheep. No one can pluck them out of my hands."
May 3, 1998
Our Faith is about:
David says "The LORD is my shepherd . . ."
Jesus says, "I AM the Good Shepherd." "I lay down my life for my sheep. No one can pluck them out of my hands."
Such a PERSONAL thing! "MY" shepherd! Our faith begins and ends with Jesus! In the latest Christian Century is an article about being apprenticed to Jesus. We can tell whether our faith is on bedrock or "on stilts" if the emphasis is on Jesus! more than it is on secondary issues.
A valley and a presence:
In reality we are not always "up." "I shall not want" does not mean we will never go through valleys. Scary places. Dangerous places. But there is that promise: "I know that you will be with me! I know that you ARE with me!" "No one can pluck me out of your hand!"
A table and enemies:
When we are in the valley— when the pressure is on— the Lord has promised to feed us— to sustain us. (Of course he feeds us when we're picnicking on the mountainside as well. But feed us He does! That's His job!)
Our "enemies" will see this. It is not a "nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!" flaunting— eating in the presence of enemies. Rather it is being held, sustained—maintaining a love and Christ-like caring that the "enemies" can see!
Wherever you are on your Spiritual Journey the Presence is available to you. God's table can sustain you. Today's place of meeting Jesus in our Ashes to Fire is "Wounded Healers." We meet Jesus when we share His table before our enemies; we meet Jesus when we are at our strongest and share with others. But perhaps we meet Jesus more than we can ever know when we share our faith with others when we are at our very lowest- our weakest.
Barbara Howard's death left a fragrance; was a renewal—almost a revival!
I invite you to covenant again with Jesus at His table:
THE HOLY COMMUNION
Wherever you are on your Spiritual Journey:
If you believe God is seeking fellowship with you— and if you want to turn to Him, I invite you to come in faith to the Table of the Lord. Draw near with faith and take this Sacrament to your comfort, and make your humble confession to Almighty God in humility before Him.
(The Apostles Creed — #8 in Sing to the Lord)
The Law Read and Confession Made
The Lord Jesus Christ has said to us: "Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This if the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Brothers and sisters, let us search our hearts. In silence let us ask God to draw us near to Himself so that we can come to his table with confidence.
(Reading No. 750 — A prayer in unison, from scripture:)
Unison: Search me, O God, and know my heart; Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me. Lead me in the way everlasting.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Pastor: Hear what our Lord has said: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And he has also said, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Thank you. O God, for your forgiving us when we come humbly to you. We do not presume to come to this table, O God, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your great mercy and grace. Grant us to eat the Bread of heaven, and drink the blood shed for the remission of sins, that we may live in Christ, and Christ may live in us forever. Amen
(In Place of Gloria Patri ) sing
"Father, I Adore You, Lay my life before You How I love you!"
"Jesus, I adore you . . ." and : "Spirit, I adore you . . ."
The Informal Invitation
("This is not my table . . . " Do not come irreverently. Do not come because someone else expects it. But if the Host invites you, and you want to walk with Him, then you are welcome at His table... )