November 10, 2017
Two by Two
November 10, 2017
This week’s sermon text: Romans 14:13-23
Do you remember the song that goes “The church is not a building . . . the church is a people”? Through God’s grace we are a people: “Once we were not a people, now we are God’s people” (1 Pet 2:10). Some churches reflect this idea: worship spaces are circular or semi-circular (like BUMC) so that we can see each other and remember that the gathered body of Christ means that God is present in this place. Studies of symbols in worship and their meaning show that the central symbols are cross, table, bread and cup, and water, word, and the greatest symbol of God’s presence is the body of Christ, the people who worship. We can look each other in the eyes and remember that Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matt 18:20).
Jesus knew the power of companionship. First, he sent the twelve out, two by two, to announce God’s reign on earth. Then he appointed 70 more and sent them out, two by two, to spread God’s word and increase the community of love. He also knew that not everyone would accept God’s love as it was proclaimed by these messengers. The scriptures they learned from Jesus proclaimed: “welcome the stranger in your midst,” “defend the cause of the poor,” “free the oppressed”; these teachings often met resistance. They would be “lambs in the midst of wolves.” They needed each other to sharpen one another’s wits (Prov 27:17), or as Jesus said, “So be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mark 10:16).
The loving community Jesus expected may seem like a pipe dream in our time, but our Methodist heritage calls us to work for it. Marjorie Suchocki, professor emerita at Claremont Seminary, writes in a letter: “Don’t you love that about Methodism? That John Wesley actually believed we could become more loving people? And that salvation was for the sake of that happening? . . . I just wish the whole church, clergy and laity, would sit down and read A Plain Account of Christian Perfection and realize that even when we don’t think alike, we can love alike.”
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- How can you help change the body of Christ for good?
- Why do we need both wisdom and innocence to do God’s work?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- What can you do to let people around you know you care about them?
- Name someone who is a mentor or teacher to you. How do they help you think through a problem?
Dear God, bless us with understanding. Give us good friends who help us see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly. Fill us with the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ and his love-filled community. Amen.