Sweetwater Presbyterian

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World Communion Sunday: When Christ Makes Us Know We Are His Own World Communion Sunday: When Christ Makes Us Know We Are His Own

World Communion Sunday: When Christ Makes Us Know We Are His Own

On this World Communion Sunday it might be good to reflect on Paul’s encouragement to the Christian community in Philippi to know for themselves the peace that comes from knowing Christ has “made us his.”
Paul begins by talking about his worldly accomplishments. He’s a great success story by the standards of his society. He is Jewish, a member of God’s chosen people, born into tribe of Benjamin. Further, he is a Pharisee and has spent most of his life defending the law. He was even a persecutor of Christians, completely righteous and blameless under the law. Paul in the world of Judaism of his day was perfect.
But, he says, all of that means nothing when he compares it to what he has found in Jesus Christ. All that notoriety in the eyes of his peers he considered rubbish, because knowing Christ, being found in Christ, is all that matters. It is the only prize Paul seeks or wants or desires. He is willing, even eager, to put aside that worldly recognition “in order that he may gain Christ and be found to be part of the family of God.
And of course, we who follow Christ can understand what Paul is talking about because we’ve all experienced it, too. We know what it means to “be Christ’s own” at some point in our lives.
Knowing we are Christ’s own refers to those moments when we feel Christ’s presence, feel Christ’s grace, and know Christ’s assurance deep down in our very hearts. Today we commissioned 2 young people who will be taking a time to understand what that means for them - to be Christ’s own and to feel Christ’s presence in their lives.
Today on World Communion Sunday we are going to ecumenical and talk about John Wesley - the founder of the Methodist tradition. John Wesley speaks of his own personal experience of “knowing Christ had made him his own” in an entry from his journal for May 23, 1738. He writes, “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ,
I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.“
What a powerful moment!
We too have those moments where we feel assured that we belong to Christ - that he has made us his. A feeling of warming and security and peace even though such moments are often short and pass by quickly - we still notice them.. We don’t have that feeling of the Spirit, that feeling of warmth in our hearts, that feeling of closeness to God all the time, there are things we can do as disciples to
remind us of such moments along the way and continue to draw strength from them.
Wesley identifies the moments of closeness to Christ as ‘a means of Grace’ - in other words these times when we just have this overwhelming knowledge of the presence of Christ, it is what Wesley calls ‘a means of grace’ and he continues to help us understand this ‘means of grace’ in outward signs and actions that are part of our relationship with God. So we think about the actions we perform in the church that remind us of God’s work in our lives - of his ‘means of grace’?
Wesley points out the works of God in worship - prayer, scripture reading, hearing God’s word through a message and the special actions such as commissioning, baptism and communion. Wesley says you cannot participate in these acts of God without feeling something, without growing in grace. These actions that seem like just ordinary things we do during worship are in actuality ways God works to remind us of his grace and the ways he breaks into the ordinary times of our lives.
For Wesley and for Paul and John Calvin and great leaders in our church the means of grace that we participate which helps us experience that closeness to God is in the Lord’s Supper - that is the place where we really experience the presence of Jesus.
The moment that Paul is talking about when the person knows that Christ has made us his own. That moment that changes everything. It is that feeling which makes all else seem like rubbish -

around the table - around the table where Jesus serves us himself - where we can really say that Christ becomes a part of us through his body and blood.
The regular celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion is this essential act in this process of reminding us that we are in Christ and Christ is in us. One of the places Christ invites us, reaches to us, meets us, and makes know we are his very own is at his table. This is why the sacrament is central to our worship, and to the majority of Christian denominations and communities around the globe. It is why we share in World Communion Sunday instead of some other practice in our worship. Here is the universal place where we meet Christ and receive our assurance that not only do we belong to Christ, but that Christ really does live within us and when we need it, he manifests himself in that feeling we have of his love and peace and our hearts are warmed.
On this World Communion Sunday we might consider how sharing in the sacrament is, for many people, the most regular way in which Christ draws people to him and makes them his own. As we join with our brothers and sisters around this table of our Lord brothers and sisters around the world, let us join Paul in rejoicing that Christ has come to us and made us his own!

Amen!