This week we will continue our sermon series on “We Believe”. This week the topic will be “We Believe in Christ’s Universal Church”. What does it mean to have a “Universal Church” when there are three major branches of Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) and perhaps thousands of “denominations”, especially in the Protestant branch. What does it say about Christ’s Universal Church that some of our branches believe that they may be the one true church and everyone else has got it wrong? Does “Universal Church” have any meaning for us in the 21st Century? Reminds me of a cartoon I have shared before:
Our readings are:
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a – This is the continuation of the David-Bathsheba-Uriah story. Uriah is dead because of David’s orders. After Bathsheba observes the mourning period David brings her to his house and marries her. (11:26-27) If the story ended there then we might think that David got away with it. However, God has other plans and sends Nathan to David. Nathan tells David a story of a farmer with one sheep which was like a pet to his family and a rich man with many sheep who steals and slaughters the farmer’s sheep. David is angry and vows justice for the farmer. Nathan responds, “You the Man!” How is God holding us accountable? Is there someone like Nathan to say to us what needs to be said? At the end of our reading David says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” That, however, is not the end of the story. Read verses 12:13-23.
Psalm 51:1-12 – The superscription (the portion before verse 1) says it all: “To the leader: a Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” ( ;-) Who is the “he” that went into Bathsheba? David or Nathan?)
OR Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 – The Israelites are complaining to Moses about their lack of food. God gives them quail in the evenings and manna in the mornings. Moses told them, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”
Psalm 78:23-29 – The entire psalm is about God’s redeeming acts in the history of Israel. These verses recount the giving of manna and quail to the Israelites. If you venture to read the verses around these assigned verses you will note the psalmist retelling of the times that God killed many of them. We must continue to struggle with the notion that God, in God’s anger, will kill. How do you, we, make sense of this?
Ephesians 4:1-16 – Paul turns his attention to what it means to live as a community of believers. Please remember that the letter was written to a church and “you” is plural. There are many phrases in this passage that are well known: verse 1b, 4-6, and 11-12. Paul state that there are several purposes for the followers of Christ: “building up the body of Christ”, “coming to the unity of faith”, and “building itself up in love”. This will be the starting point for my sermon “We Believe in the Christ’s Universal Church.”
John 6:24-35 – When the crowds gather around Jesus on the day after the feeding of the 5000 (see last week), they want to know how he got there, what works of God they can do, and what signs he will do like giving manna? Jesus challenges them on their presumptions and desires throughout this passage and through the rest of the chapter, which will come up the next three weeks.
May God bless you with insight and understanding or confusion and questions as you read this weeks lessons. May you live into Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit by living for others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor