Let us pray:
We are instruments of God’s grace. May these words and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
Salvation history is more than a walk through the Bible highlighting an ancient culture’s encounter with the living God. It is also a portal – a window, if you will – into how our own lives in our own culture interact with the ancient scriptural witness. We, too, have our story to tell – and more often rather than not, we can identify with parts of the ancient story we read – identifying our own journey with that of the ones who have gone before.
At some point in the past, around 1904-1905, founders of this congregation gathered together because the Word of God inspired them in some way to form an officially recognized community of faith. Rev. William O. Forbes came as a guest preacher in November of 1904, and as a result of his sermon 24 people gave their names to be enrolled as founding members; a few months later elders were ordained, trustees elected, and in February of 1905, organization was completed and baptisms administered. Twenty-three members entered into covenant as charter members. Only one and a half years later, in August 1906 this church was completed and a dedication service took place. Thus, this community of believers began their common life and ministry together. A life and ministry centered around praise and worship of God and service to one another and the community of Trout Lake. This congregation joined the mighty stream of Salvation History. Along the way, a few bumps and challenges occurred, as they always do; for a congregation is not truly a place where saints meet to extol God, but where those who are struggling with life, even those struggling with God may meet to pour out their hearts, practice belief (or experiment with it) and ongoing growth of the Spirit, and give of themselves to the greater good for our common humanity.
Today, creating space for dialog with God to happen on a regular basis may be hard for some. Dialog meaning pouring out prayers to God, yes; but also remembering to be silent before the Lord in expectation that God will speak in some way – “O Lord, open our ears that we may hear! Not only our ears, but open our eyes that we may see, open our hearts that we may sense your Spirit; open our mouths that we might taste and see that You are good.”
Today we celebrate the Lord’s supper. Communion. Eucharist, as it is called in some traditions. Gerald Sittser writes,
“Controversies have swirled around the sacraments for many centuries. Throughout most of the history of the church Christians have debated the theological meaning of the sacraments, disagreed over their proper number, fought over whether baptism should be administered to believers only or to infants as well, contended over what Jesus meant by “This is my body,” and argued over the role that the pastor or priest should play in the administration of the sacraments.
Theologians have also tried to do what the Bible itself does not do: explain exactly how the sacraments work metaphysically. More often than not they have missed the point. We might not be able to understand their operation, but we can understand their effect. The sacraments are a source of genuine spiritual life and an objective means of grace. The tangible, concrete, material nature of the sacraments reminds us of the reality of Christ’s saving work. The sacraments join material and spiritual together into a seamless whole, just as the incarnation does. They are windows that allow us to gaze into another world and receive the grace that pours from that world into ours.”
Windows of looking aren’t just for us, however. I have been very intrigued of late with some of my doctoral readings, and the concept of cross-roads has come up quite a lot. Sittser writes,
“…Sacred objects, sacred places and sacred rituals…create spaces in which earthly creatures can encounter the transcendent God. Muslims use mosques, Hindus have their temples, Jews meet in synagogues. These buildings, the holy objects found inside and the sacred rituals practices in them function like windows that connect two worlds, the world of material reality and the world of spiritual reality….”
Increasingly, there has been other groups disenchanted with institutional religions of all kinds – even the name of God – yet are still drawn to explore formation and growth of what they experience of their spiritual reality in whatever places draw them; for some that might even be the church. I pray we can be encouraged and stretched to open wide the doors of compassionate and even radical hospitality, that God might speak through us to serve any and all who feel drawn to this place.
Historically, the church has understood Christ to be the perfect unity where God and humanity come together seamlessly: “God becomes a man, [Jesus] and [Jesus] embodies God; God embraces humanity, humanity surrenders to God…Christ is the meeting place of God and humanity, spirit and matter, invisible and visible.”
What a place to call a crossroads! Wouldn’t it be incredible to enable ourselves to realize and rest in the knowledge that humanity and spirit, visible and invisible matter come together in the crossroads of our own bodies – and are temples of the Lord on earth.
“God came to earth in Jesus Christ to do more than reveal who God is in material form. He came to share his life with us…God’s light pours in on us, his grace restores us, his love fills us.”
Friends, we are called into life together to do the same; offer grace, share our lives, and reflect God’s love embedded within each one of us. Jesus came that we might understand who God is, and who we can become. Embrace it, live it, be it; and above all, may God speak through us again.
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ, amen? May it be so.
 Gerald L. Sittser, Water from a Deep Well: Christian Spirituality from Early Martyrs to Modern Missionaries (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007) 144-147.
Question for Reflection
What does Paul mean when he says that he became all things to all people so that he could save some (1 Cor. 9:22)?
Household Prayer: Morning
In the morning, while it was still very dark,
Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place,
and there he prayed. Mark 1:35
As I turn to you in prayer this morning, God,
bless me with a sense of purpose.
As I go out into this day, show me what I am to do. Amen.
Household Prayer: Evening
Everlasting God, you have been here
from the foundations of the earth.
I give to you this day now ending,
with all its gifts and failings.
As I rest through the night, renew my strength and, in my dreams,
lift me up on the wings of eagles. Amen.