This morning we kicked off our 8:30 am Wednesday morning prayer service for the fall. Basically what we do is listen to God through various means of prayer: liturgical, silent, extemporaneous, etc. We close by lifting up the concerns of the church. My favorite part happens in the middle when we read a scripture, meditate in silence, and then speak as the Spirit leads. It was during this time today that my sister Jacque said something that blew my mind.
We were reading Matthew 9:9-13 which is my preaching text for this weekend. I had shared some testimony with my two fellow prayer-warriors Jacque and Karla about how Matthew 9:13 (“I desire mercy not sacrifice”) became the verse of my life. Jacque thought about it and said you know the really cool thing about communion is that everyone in the room has been given a different verse by God and when we all come together, it’s like the whole Bible is standing in the room in bodily form. WHAT?!!!
That’s why I do this stuff. Okay don’t get huffy, Bible thumpers. I’m not saying we’re all equally “divinely inspired” as the Bible. But what Jacque said was so DEEP. Jesus is the Word that God speaks. We become the body of Christ redeemed by His blood by feeding on the body and blood of Christ. As the original Protestant Reformers Luther and Calvin both recognized, the Word speaks through scripture and sacrament alike (it’s only in the recent idolatry of preachers’ words that the sacramental Word has disappeared from Protestant Christian worship!). When God gathers together a wide throng of people into one body, some of us are John 3:16 Christians, others Psalm 51 Christians, others Micah 6:8, others Isaiah 6:8, others Philippians 2, others 2 Corinthians 12:9, and on and on. Each of us receives a personal Word that snaps us into the greater Word of the whole body (or text). So when all these Christians with different favorite Bible verses form one body and God feeds them with His sacramental Word, then we become the living manifestation of the Bible in the world. It’s not exactly that we preach the gospel “without using words,” but that we let the Word that is greater than any of our feeble words preach through us.
BOOM! Thank you sister Jacque. I can’t wait to hear what God has to say next Wednesday at 8:30 am in the Burke
United Methodist Church reflection room. Maybe you’ll want to come listen too.