Thinking Out Loud

November 11, 2017

Veteran’s Day (US) / Remembrance Day (UK, Canada)

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:11 am

Apparently only once in ten years have I ever posted anything on the blog recognizing November 11th, which is Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth and Veteran’s Day in the United States. That article appeared in 2010 and tied in with a sermon I did in a Toronto church that week. Only twice in my life have I ever been called upon to do back-to-back sermons on successive weeks. It gives me a greater respect for those in vocational ministry. But I digress…

The point I wanted to make that day was that for Christians, every Communion Sunday is a service of remembrance, and if we truly have communion with God, every week is Communion Sunday, even if the silver or brass trays of bread (or matzo) and wine (or grape juice) are not visible in the sanctuary (or auditorium).

This morning was the second of two sermons I got to do back to back. This one had a lot of scripture in it, so taking my cue from Ed Dobson’s sermons at Mars Hill, I got Ruth to read all the scripture.

I wanted to tie in with Communion Sunday, and it was also the Sunday closest to Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day. So the message was called People Tend to Forget.

We began by asking the question, “Why do we always read those same words from I Cor. before the communion starts?1One answer we came up with is that the account in Luke 22 makes the disciples look really, really bad! One minute Jesus is talking about giving His life for them, and the next minute they’re arguing among themselves which one is the greatest. (v. 24)

That led to a discussion about how some of the Bible’s spiritual high points seem end with a crash a few verses or a chapter later.

Exodus 14 has the Israelites crossing the Red Sea safely while Pharoah’s army is drowned. Exodus 15 is their worship and celebration service. Think Pentecostal worship on steroids.

And chapter 16? They’re complaining about the food and wishing they were back in Egypt. Yeah. Back in Egypt. For real.

Then we looked at Elijah’s defeating the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. (Well, actually it was God, but you know what I mean…) Both of these O. T. stories were things we’d looked at briefly last week, but this time we pressed further.

Now remember, this guy just played a major role in one of the most dramatic spiritual warfare encounters of all time. Where is he at a chapter later in I Kings 39?

Scared silly over a threat from King Ahab’s wife. Running off into the desert. Moping. Wishing he was dead. No, really, he says that, ‘I wish I was dead.’ This is either ironic or pathetic, depending on your view.

And then there’s Jonah.

Jonah is sent to tell Nineveh to repent. They do. That’s good news, right? Well, not for Jonah. His message was framed as “Nineveh is about to be destroyed,” and their world doesn’t look too kindly on prophets who get it wrong. So when God changes his mind on the destruction of the city, Jonah’s all out of sorts. Check out Jonah 3: 6-10.

The hero of “Jonah and the Whale” in chapter 1 – sorry, great fish – who is also the hero of “Jonah’s Preaching Converts and Entire City” in chapter 3 becomes the less impressive story of Jonah and the Plant in chapter 4. God can’t help but tell him that he’s put more passion and energy into mourning the death of a worm-eaten shade tree than anything concerning the salvation of the Ninevites.

And that was only the first half of the sermon.

Here’s a key scripture:

Judges 2: 8(NIV) Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.

People really do tend to forget…

Here’s another key scripture:

Isaiah 46: 9(NIV) Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10a I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come…

11b …What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.

The message ended up talking about Communion again.2  Some major points:

Our fellowship, our communion is with God through Jesus Christ.

We don’t celebrate communion to remember what was, but we celebrate communion to remember what is.

We celebrate communion because Christ is in us, and because of who we are in Christ.


1The “words of institution” which often begin the Lord’s Supper portion of the service in Evangelical Churches is from I Cor 11:

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.

2 I realize that in tying these things together, I haven’t said much in this blog post about our war veterans, and for that I apologize. If this will help, I posted this on Twitter earlier in the week and it applies in similar fashion to U.S. war veterans:

A guy in my church posted this on his Facebook this morning.

A veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank cheque payable to Canada for an amount up to, and including, their life.

 

 

 

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November 11, 2011

11-11-11

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:11 am

I’ve scheduled this post for 11:11 AM on 11-11-11.

The date suggests a number of themes.   First of all it’s Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day for our friends in the U.S.  The U.S. name suggests a day to commemorate all those who have served in past conflicts, whereas in Canada, I think the focus is there but also more applied to those who gave their lives fighting for the ideals that sparked the wars in question.

In an age of revisionism, I’ve addressed the idea that “people tend to forget” here twice recently, once in the lead up to Remembrance Day a year ago, and at the ten year anniversary of September 11th, just a few weeks ago.  The stylized Canadian flag which substitutes the poppy — a symbol of the day in the UK and Canada — for the maple leaf seemed an appropriate graphic.

Second, the fixation on numeric dates such as 11-11-11 suggests our passion for order; our passion for symmetry.  I’ve written before about growing up in a family where we tended to mark the moment when the odometer on the car rolled over to a significant number such as 50,000, or perhaps, as someone might experience today, 111,111.  (We’re in kilometers here so we get to do this more often, except we spell it kilometres.)

We like things that come in boxes we can pile neatly, at least I do, hence my life work has been among books and records and CDs (things which can be stacked, or boxed or displayed in rows) and not clothing or pillows or plush toys (which don’t share the same characteristics).  11-11-11 suggests a formal balance, and it also transcends the Canadian-versus-US difference of going day-month-year (logical; from smallest to largest) rather than month-day-year (logical because it echoes the written form: November 11th, 2011).  However, none of this should be taken to infer that our house is neat or that the desk I’m sitting at right now is not total chaos.

Finally, as a result of both of the above factors, it represents a “special day.”  The days tend to hum along without variance, so setting a day apart to remember the past, or just choosing a unique, once-ever date to celebrate the present breaks up the routine.

But typing that, I’m aware of at least one marginal Christian group that doesn’t permit the celebration of special days such as birthdays, anniversaries, or even Christmas.  I think that’s unfortunate.  Clearly, the Hebrew roots of Christianity point to a people for whom there was an annual cycle to the year beyond the atmospheric changing of the seasons.  Celebrations allow us to measure our days, to know our time for this life is fleeting; but also to enjoy where we’ve been and where God has brought us.

While the calendar dates are somewhat arbitrary, and some cultures ascribe a different year number; still, it’s hard to look at 11-11-11 and not think that there’s something worth giving a moment’s pause to consider that past generations possibly didn’t consider the human race might ever get this far.

At least one other Church/Christianity blogger at Alltop had the same idea.

November 7, 2010

People Tend to Forget

This morning was the second of two sermons I got to do back to back.   This one had a lot of scripture in it, so taking my cue from Ed Dobson’s sermons at Mars Hill, I got Ruth to read all the scripture.

I wanted to tie in with Communion Sunday, but found out later it was also Remembrance Day (that’s Veteran’s Day for y’all Stateside) Sunday.  So the message was called People Tend to Forget.

We began by asking the question, “Why do we always read those same words from I Cor. before the communion starts.”   One answer we came up with is that the account in Luke 22 makes the disciples look really, really bad!   One minute Jesus is talking about giving His life for them, and the next minute they’re arguing among themselves which one is the greatest.  (v. 24)

That led to a discussion about how some of the Bible’s spiritual high points seem end with a crash a few verses or a chapter later.

Exodus 14 has the Israelites crossing the Red Sea safely while Pharoah’s army is drowned.  Exodus 15 is their worship and celebration service.   Think Pentecostal worship on steroids.

And chapter 16?   They’re complaining about the food and wishing they were back in Egypt.  Yeah.  Back in Egypt.   For real.

Then we looked at Elijah’s defeating the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel.   (Well, actually it was God, but you know what I mean…)   Both of these O. T. stories were things we’d looked at briefly last week, but this time we pressed further.

Now remember, this guy just played a major role in one of the most dramatic spiritual warfare encounters of all time.   Where is he at a chapter later in I Kings 39?

Scared silly over a threat from King Ahab’s wife.   Running off into the desert.   Moping.   Wishing he was dead.   No, really, he says that, ‘I wish I was dead.’  This is either ironic or pathetic, depending on your view.

And then there’s Jonah.

Jonah is sent to tell Nineveh to repent. They do. That’s good news, right? Well, not for Jonah. His message was framed as “Nineveh is about to be destroyed,” and their world doesn’t look too kindly on prophets who get it wrong. So when God changes his mind on the destruction of the city, Jonah’s all out of sorts. Check out Jonah 3: 6-10.

The hero of “Jonah and the Whale” in chapter 1 – sorry, great fish – who is also the hero of “Jonah’s Preaching Converts and Entire City” in chapter 3 becomes the less impressive story of Jonah and the Plant in chapter 4. God can’t help but tell him that he’s put more passion and energy into mourning the death of a worm-eaten shade tree than anything concerning the salvation of the Ninevites.

And that was only the first half of the sermon.

Here’s a key scripture:

Judges 2: 8(NIV) Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.

People really do tend to forget…

Here’s another key scripture:

Isaiah 46: 9(NIV) Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10a I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come…

11b …What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.

The message ended up talking about Communion again.   Some major points:

Our fellowship, our communion is with God through Jesus Christ.

We don’t celebrate communion to remember what was, but we celebrate communion to remember what is.

We celebrate communion because Christ is in us, and because of who we are in Christ.

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