I love the celebration of Holy Communion. It is one of my favorite moments in the life of the church. This holy meal, shared with the world, represents God’s redemptive love and grace, given freely to the world. This means of grace testifies to Christ’s love and presence with us. What a wonderful table to be invited to.
The invitation to the table in the Communion liturgy of the United Methodist Church warms my heart every time I hear it. The invitation includes the opportunity to confess our sins. We seldom willingly take part in confession. Many of us have to be proven wrong by several witnesses before we even entertain the thought of confessing. Though confession has a lot to do with setting aside our ego and pride, it has more to do with the grace that awaits us.
Our human condition has a way of overwhelming us. Pain, world calamities, death, violence, and sins committed knowingly and unknowingly seem to weigh us down. Many times when I become overwhelmed, I find myself asking God, “Will I ever get it right?” At this point, I usually remember the words of the pardon in the Communion liturgy: “Christ died while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven” (umh, 12). God’s forgiveness is not a hall pass to continue in our sinful way. It is a reminder to invite the grace of God into our lives. I am a witness that the grace of God has the power to change anybody. Though there are times when we will feel overwhelmed by our sins, God’s forgiveness will free us for joyful obedience.
O God, forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
The theme in the readings from the Hebrew scriptures is abundance. Joel speaks of the time of plenty in the land of Israel. This abundance is not only physical, for it includes a generous outpouring of the Spirit of God. The psalmist sings of abundant rains that allows the land to flourish. The hills, meadows, and valleys all sing praise to God. Second Timothy 4 contains the scriptural passage that brings us closest to the death of Paul. The apostle has been abandoned by many, but the Lord stands by him as he faces his likely imminent death. In the Gospel, Jesus warns us about the dangers of pride. The Pharisee in the parable thinks his personal goodness brings favor with God, but God desires a humble heart.
Read Joel 2:23-32. How has rain been a sign of God’s impending provision in your life?
Read Psalm 65. How has God’s forgiveness freed you to participate in creation’s joy?
Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18. When has God strengthened you in the face of evil?
Read Luke 18:9-14. What aspect of your life do you need to approach with renewed humility?
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