Bread, Bath and Beyond: Worship Series for the Season of Epiphany 2015
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17
The new year always brings opportunity to move beyond our limitations… to find new beginnings and be better than we were before. We use this cultural word-play in our series title to remember that the most basic transforming experiences of our faith–communion and baptism–are the starting points for life “beyond” our limitations. Let’s make this year one of amazing transformations–for our lives, for our community, for our world!
The Bread of Life
“While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.'” – Matthew 26:26
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away. And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” … Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”Rev 21: 1-6a
As Christians, we believe that when we gather around the communion table to remember the last night Jesus was with his disciples in the Upper Room, it is beyond just an “historical” remembering. It is also a remembering “into the future.” We gather around the table with all who have ever done so, who do now, and who ever will do so. It is a “little heaven below” that transforms us into the
One Spirit. As we stand on the precipice of the new year, we begin this series with a commitment to “break open” our lives to God’s future for us.
Dare We Risk Baptism?
“I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” — Mark 1:8
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then Paul said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” Acts 19:1-7
Christian baptism is rife with meaning. Paul invites the early believers depicted in the Acts story to go beyond one teaching of baptism into the fullness of living in the Spirit of Christ available to them. On this day we remember our baptism and affirm the Spirit that lives and moves and breathes through us–offering power and strength beyond what we think we have. Spirit that lives and moves and breathes through us–offering power and strength beyond what we think we have. We become the “Body of Christ.”
“Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” — John 6:42
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in thelaw and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anythinggood come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1: 43-51
As this season progresses, we will see people discovering this remarkable man named “Jesus of Nazareth.” The people had been waiting so long for a Messiah that it was hard to believe for some that the Savior had come out of a little town like Nazareth, much less the son of a common carpenter. How can we go beyond our own beliefs and assumptions about where God shows up? Can we move beyond these to open our eyes to the holy in unexpected places and people?
Beyond the Horizon
“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen.” — Matthew 4:18
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:14-20
The scriptures today tell of the calling of fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee to leave their work and follow Jesus. He is calling them to work they probably never in a million years imagined themselves doing. For years they had sailed that sea, perhaps never thinking what was beyond the horizons, beyond the distant shores. Where is Jesus calling us that just might be beyond the
horizons we now see for ourselves?
Beyond the Boundaries
“…put a new and right spirit within me.” — Psalm 51:1
Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching–with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” Mark 1:21-28
Sometimes we are captured by the boundaries of our own making. Things have become so toxic in our lives that we are bound, imprisoned, by them. Today, along with the awestruck worshiping community in the scripture story, we experience the power of Jesus to call out unclean spirits–those things that rage within us, limiting our ability to love and grow. We can lean on the authority of Jesus in our lives to conquer and be freed to move beyond our boundaries.
Beyond the Chaos
“And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.” — Mark 5:24
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. Mark 1:29-39
The word is out about Jesus’ ministry and the throngs are beginning to follow him wherever he goes. Can you imagine the chaotic scene at the door of the house where Jesus is staying? People who are sick, who are dealing with all sorts of “demons” – not to mention the people with them, worried to death about their loved ones. Then Jesus does something we see him do regularly. He slips out. In the dark of the early morning he goes to find a place alone to pray. When the chaos is just too much, what do we do? Work harder? Worry more? Or can we take a clue from Jesus and get beyond the chaos, if only for a short while to remember that God is with us?
Beyond the Fear
Guest Preacher: Rev. Steve Kindle
“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.” — Mark 10:32a
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Mark 9:2-9
The saying goes, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” These common men, who just a mere few years earlier were getting up every day and simply praying for a good catch of fish, stand on the top of a mountain and see their leader joined by dead, yet famous, ancestors of the faith. They already have begun to realize the Jesus is something of a legend, but this seals it, and they are terrified. They felt the fear and left their professions anyway to follow Jesus. And now perhaps they can see that this is not your ordinary life they’re mixed up in. Do you feel like there are extraordinary things you could do if only you could move beyond the fear?
This last service in our series offers a ritual moment to offer our lives and efforts in cocreating God’s Reign with extraordinary courage.