St Paul's UMC
December 4, 2022
  • O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  • O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
  • Doxology
      • Matthew 16:18NIV2011

      • Hebrews 10:24–25NIV2011

  • Let us now consider the article of faith found in the Apostles’ Creed that states:
    We believe in the Holy Catholic Church.
    We believe - not “we are members of the holy Catholic Church” or we strive to be “the holy catholic church” - no...we proclaim that “we believe in the holy catholic church.”
    This is our creed. These are things we believe in - we believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord. We believe in the Holy Spirit. And we believe in the holy catholic church.
    This statement reminds us that the church is not just some manmade structure. The Church is one of God’s marvelous works. As Timothy Tennant wrote:
    “This belief is important because it lifts the church from being a mere human organization that has certain functions, such as preaching, discipling, or feeding the hungry. Instead, the church is what God is building in the world. The church is God’s divine work built on the foundation of Christ. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18).” Timothy C. Tennent. Foundations of the Christian Faith
    If there is one shift in understanding that I believe many Christians today need to experience - it is this:
    The Church belongs to Jesus.
    He is the head, we are the body. The church does not belong to us - we are not in charge. This is God’s work in the world. The Bible refers to Christians as stones that God has joined together into this mystical Temple. And in this Temple resides the Spirit of God. We are not the center - God is.
    1 Peter 2:5 ESV
    you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
    The Church belongs to Jesus.
    When the Apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians on the relationship between husbands and wives - he tied his teaching to the relationship between Christ and his church. Now some may bristle at this passage today because historically it has at times been misused - yet the teaching is one of mutual love:
    Ephesians 5:22–25 ESV
    Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
    In this passage, wives are to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ, and husbands are to sacrificially love their wives in the same way Christ did when he gave his life so we could be set free.
    This implies that leaders in the church must surrender all authority to the Lord and seek his purposes and direction. Church leaders are to teach His commands, not make up our own. Church members are to follow Christ first and foremost with their lives - seek to do his will, not their own.
    On Thursday this past week I took a self-imposed spiritual retreat. I drove to DC and checked into a room at St. Anslem’s Abbey - a monastary founded in 1924. I hung out with monks, which was a quite a change in pace. Their whole day is structured around worship and adoration of God.
    Why did I do this? One of the main reasons: we are facing a lot of big decisions and going through a lot of changes. We are not all of the same mind on some of the decisions we face. This can’t be about what I want. I went to spend time with the Lord, to set aside time alone with Jesus, to read His word and seek him in prayer. This is His Church, so I want to be sure that we are seeking God’s will in what we do.
    Anytime we insist on our way in the life of the Church, we are treating the church as something worldly that belongs to us.
    It is not. The Church belongs to Jesus.
    The creed reminds us that the Church is holy and catholic.
    Holy means set apart for God; separate from the mundane; sacred; pure.
    While we can describe this space, this sanctuary, as holy and sacred - the Church is not this building. The Church has never been a physical building. The Holy, set apart, pure Church is the body of Christ, a diverse body of believers who have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and whom God has joined together into one organism. The members may not yet be perfect, but they are moving toward perfection.
    Paul presents a good picture of what this looks like in Romans.
    Romans 12:3–13 ESV
    For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
    And the church is catholic.
    According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the word catholic comes from a Greek word meaning “regarding the whole,” or, more simply, “universal” or “general.” The word church comes from the Greek ecclesia, which means “those called out,” as in those summoned out of the world at large to form a distinct society. So the Catholic Church is made up of those called out and gathered into the universal society founded by Christ. (article by Steve Ray at catholic.com)
    The church is catholic because it is made up of every tribe, nation, and tongue who have confessed Jesus Christ to be their Savior.
    Jesus gave the apostles, and us, the Great Commission:
    Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
    Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
    He tells them to go build His Church - go to all nations, give them all my teachings, do this through all time. That is what it means to be catholic - it is not limited to only the here and now. We belong part of the church universal that was built on Christ the cornerstone, then the apostles, and then every believer that followed.
    We who are living join with those who have already run their race to make up the Communion of Saints.
    Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
    The Church is holy and catholic.
    Which leads me to a quote I came across from early Church Father and Bishop of Carthage in the 3rd Century
    St. Cyprian “No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother.”
    In today’s vernacular, there are no lone rangers in Christ’ Church. We are part of a body. It is in the Church that we are taught, and molded, and forged into who God desires us to be. We are to become like Jesus, and that happens when the body is working together as it should: teaching, correcting, rebuking and serving.
    Hank Hannegraaff, Christian apologist and author popularly known as the Bible Answer Man, calls the church a spiritual gymnasium. He writes:
    “Those who wish to emulate Jesus Christ do not become Christlike by simply taking on the trappings of Christianity, nor do they win the good fight by merely mouthing Christian slogans. Instead, they become Christ-like by offering themselves to God as “living sacrifices.” Prayer, study and fasting characterized the life of Christ. In like fashion, such spiritual disciplines honed in the spiritual gymnasium must characterize the lives of those who sincerely desire to become Christlike.”
    Amen.
    Now let us prepare to strengthen the body of Christ by coming to the Lord’s Table to share in Holy Communion. I want to read to you a reflection on John Wesley’s view of Communion written by Winfield Bevins.
    “Wesley also believed that the grace of God was conveyed in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper through the “real presence” of Christ. He said,
    The grace of God given herein confirms to us the pardon of our sins, by enabling us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: This gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection. If, therefore, we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord's Supper; then we must never turn our backs on the feast which our Lord has prepared for us.”
      • 1 Peter 2:5NIV2011

      • Ephesians 5:22–25NIV2011

      • Romans 12:3–13NIV2011

      • Matthew 28:19–20NIV2011

      • Hebrews 12:1–2NIV2011

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • Let us now consider the article of faith found in the Apostles’ Creed that states:
    We believe in the Holy Catholic Church.
    We believe - not “we are members of the holy Catholic Church” or we strive to be “the holy catholic church” - no...we proclaim that “we believe in the holy catholic church.”
    This is our creed. These are things we believe in - we believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord. We believe in the Holy Spirit. And we believe in the holy catholic church.
    This statement reminds us that the church is not just some manmade structure. The Church is one of God’s marvelous works. As Timothy Tennant wrote:
    “This belief is important because it lifts the church from being a mere human organization that has certain functions, such as preaching, discipling, or feeding the hungry. Instead, the church is what God is building in the world. The church is God’s divine work built on the foundation of Christ. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18).” Timothy C. Tennent. Foundations of the Christian Faith
    If there is one shift in understanding that I believe many Christians today need to experience - it is this:
    The Church belongs to Jesus.
    He is the head, we are the body. The church does not belong to us - we are not in charge. This is God’s work in the world. The Bible refers to Christians as stones that God has joined together into this mystical Temple. And in this Temple resides the Spirit of God. We are not the center - God is.
    1 Peter 2:5 ESV
    you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
    The Church belongs to Jesus.
    When the Apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians on the relationship between husbands and wives - he tied his teaching to the relationship between Christ and his church. Now some may bristle at this passage today because historically it has at times been misused - yet the teaching is one of mutual love:
    Ephesians 5:22–25 ESV
    Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
    In this passage, wives are to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ, and husbands are to sacrificially love their wives in the same way Christ did when he gave his life so we could be set free.
    This implies that leaders in the church must surrender all authority to the Lord and seek his purposes and direction. Church leaders are to teach His commands, not make up our own. Church members are to follow Christ first and foremost with their lives - seek to do his will, not their own.
    On Thursday this past week I took a self-imposed spiritual retreat. I drove to DC and checked into a room at St. Anslem’s Abbey - a monastary founded in 1924. I hung out with monks, which was a quite a change in pace. Their whole day is structured around worship and adoration of God.
    Why did I do this? One of the main reasons: we are facing a lot of big decisions and going through a lot of changes. We are not all of the same mind on some of the decisions we face. This can’t be about what I want. I went to spend time with the Lord, to set aside time alone with Jesus, to read His word and seek him in prayer. This is His Church, so I want to be sure that we are seeking God’s will in what we do.
    Anytime we insist on our way in the life of the Church, we are treating the church as something worldly that belongs to us.
    It is not. The Church belongs to Jesus.
    The creed reminds us that the Church is holy and catholic.
    Holy means set apart for God; separate from the mundane; sacred; pure.
    While we can describe this space, this sanctuary, as holy and sacred - the Church is not this building. The Church has never been a physical building. The Holy, set apart, pure Church is the body of Christ, a diverse body of believers who have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and whom God has joined together into one organism. The members may not yet be perfect, but they are moving toward perfection.
    Paul presents a good picture of what this looks like in Romans.
    Romans 12:3–13 ESV
    For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
    And the church is catholic.
    According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the word catholic comes from a Greek word meaning “regarding the whole,” or, more simply, “universal” or “general.” The word church comes from the Greek ecclesia, which means “those called out,” as in those summoned out of the world at large to form a distinct society. So the Catholic Church is made up of those called out and gathered into the universal society founded by Christ. (article by Steve Ray at catholic.com)
    The church is catholic because it is made up of every tribe, nation, and tongue who have confessed Jesus Christ to be their Savior.
    Jesus gave the apostles, and us, the Great Commission:
    Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
    Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
    He tells them to go build His Church - go to all nations, give them all my teachings, do this through all time. That is what it means to be catholic - it is not limited to only the here and now. We belong part of the church universal that was built on Christ the cornerstone, then the apostles, and then every believer that followed.
    We who are living join with those who have already run their race to make up the Communion of Saints.
    Hebrews 12:1–2 ESV
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
    The Church is holy and catholic.
    Which leads me to a quote I came across from early Church Father and Bishop of Carthage in the 3rd Century
    St. Cyprian “No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother.”
    In today’s vernacular, there are no lone rangers in Christ’ Church. We are part of a body. It is in the Church that we are taught, and molded, and forged into who God desires us to be. We are to become like Jesus, and that happens when the body is working together as it should: teaching, correcting, rebuking and serving.
    Hank Hannegraaff, Christian apologist and author popularly known as the Bible Answer Man, calls the church a spiritual gymnasium. He writes:
    “Those who wish to emulate Jesus Christ do not become Christlike by simply taking on the trappings of Christianity, nor do they win the good fight by merely mouthing Christian slogans. Instead, they become Christ-like by offering themselves to God as “living sacrifices.” Prayer, study and fasting characterized the life of Christ. In like fashion, such spiritual disciplines honed in the spiritual gymnasium must characterize the lives of those who sincerely desire to become Christlike.”
    Amen.
    Now let us prepare to strengthen the body of Christ by coming to the Lord’s Table to share in Holy Communion. I want to read to you a reflection on John Wesley’s view of Communion written by Winfield Bevins.
    “Wesley also believed that the grace of God was conveyed in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper through the “real presence” of Christ. He said,
    The grace of God given herein confirms to us the pardon of our sins, by enabling us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: This gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection. If, therefore, we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lord's Supper; then we must never turn our backs on the feast which our Lord has prepared for us.”
      • 1 Peter 2:5NIV2011

      • Ephesians 5:22–25NIV2011

      • Romans 12:3–13NIV2011

      • Matthew 28:19–20NIV2011

      • Hebrews 12:1–2NIV2011

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