October 2, 2016 – Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost/World Communion Sunday
Proclaimer: Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD
Summer Sermon Series: LORD OF THE HARVEST
Scripture: Exodus 20:8-10; Luke 4:14-16a; Hebrews 10:23-25
When we were children, our mothers would call us to supper with these words: “Everything is ready; come to the table.” If you were like me, you might have responded, “Be right there, this game is almost over.” Everything was ready – except me.
As your pastor, my role includes asking you to unpack your commitment backpack: to spread all of your commitments out in front of you so you can sort through them, pray about them, prioritize them and realign them according to your relationship with The Living God. Just as our mothers had the role of interrupting our play to care for us, I have the role of calling you to spiritual renewal because I care for you.
Today, we observe World Communion Sunday. Communion reminds us that in worship, God invites us into sacred space where heaven and earth touch. Today, people gather around the Lord’s Table in all 50 states plus almost every nation of the world. This weekend, God calls to 2.4 billion Christians, one-third of the world’s population, saying, ‘everything is ready as you gather around the table.’ The question is, ‘are you ready;’ or ‘are we ready?’
Our worship tells God whether we are ready. Worship sets humanity apart from the animal kingdom. Each and every human civilization has offered worship to some form of deity. The Hebrews, our ancestors in monotheistic faith, included in their Holy Scriptures the idea of God creating the Sabbath for humanity. We were called to worship this morning with these words: “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.” Holy means, ‘set apart as belonging to God.’ Jesus reminded us, “The Sabbath was made for humankind and not humankind for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) We need to worship God each and every week. As Bob Dylan sang, ‘You’ve got to serve somebody.’
When we fail to remember the Sabbath and our need to worship God each week, we sacrifice our relationship with God on the altar of lesser commitments. When we do not worship God each week, our lives become crowded, our energies depleted, our spirits forsaken and our visions unfocused. We need to worship God to be actively faithful faithfully active, to build spiritual strength in our congregation and to promote health in the world. We should participate in congregational worship as a way of opening space in our lives to hear God’s voice. In this season of spiritual renewal, The Lord of the Harvest calls to you, saying, “Come to the table; everything is ready.”
As followers of Jesus, we are reminded by today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel that it was Jesus’ custom – or habit – to participate in public worship on the Sabbath day. We must guard ourselves against the temptation which tells us that weekly worship is an option if it fits into our plans – or if our commitments to lesser gods do not interfere. I propose to you that if Jesus needed weekly worship, you certainly do. You are too busy to NOT worship God. Active faith faithful action requires weekly worship.
This season of spiritual renewal calls you beyond ‘life as the familiar normal.’ Spiritual renewal invites you consider your worship of God and determine how you may have drifted away from offering your worship to God as a follower of Jesus.
As a practical option for you to pursue spiritual renewal to The Living God, let me propose a realistic challenge for you; participate in corporate worship at least forty-two Sundays per year. Several of you are in worship more than 42 Sundays each year. I am not encouraging you to diminish your commitment. Yet, the majority of you are not present 42 Sundays per year. Forty-two is roughly 80% of your annual Sundays allowing you ten Sundays for visits with family, beaches, mountains, etc. Please don’t consider this as handcuffs on your life; but as a life practice contributing to your spiritual vitality.
I now call you to the Lord’s Table. May this meal nurture spiritual renewal in you. As you partake of the bread, renew your commitment to your relationship with God. You are part of the body of Christ. As you drink the cup, renew your commitment to God’s covenant of sacrificial living. Children of God, “Everything is ready; come to the table.”