Week 3 - Epistles and Present

 

Last week’s lesson continued to build on the use of practices of eating and drinking as a means of building relationship between God and creation.  We took a look at the example of Jesus Christ from the Gospels and his use of acts of eating and sitting at table with a whole variety people. Eating continues to be an example of God’s power and love as our creator and provider, through the example of Jesus Christ and his ministry.  As we continue in the New Testament, looking at the Epistles, we will take a look at the new relationship the early church has with food.  Early Christians were made up of two groups of very diverse people.  First there were faithful Jews who had observed the Torah and believed Jesus to be the Messiah, and second there were Gentiles who heard the message of Jesus Christ and believed.  It is because of these differences that Paul wrote about some of the significant differences in the act of eating, which we will explore.

 

Ways in which Eating and Drinking bring us into deeper relationship with God:

  1. Fasting – Many Christians identify the act of eating as our first sin/transgression.  So within such a tradition, the act of voluntary abstention from food and drink is a foundational spiritual discipline, and the biblical narratives offer multiple examples.  Moses who ate no bread and drank no water for 40 day and nights while he stood on Sinai receiving the teachings of the covenant (Exodus 34:28).  Again when he came down the mountain and found the people worshiping idols, Moses fasted for 40 days and nights, laying himself before the Lord (Deuteronomy 9:15-18).  When Samuel gathered the Israelites, after they had turned away from God, to fast and confess their transgressions before the Lord (1 Sam 7:6).  As a time of mourning when Saul and his sons were killed, David and his men fasted (1 Sam 31:13 & 2 Sam 1:12).  Over the course of Christian history, fasting has been practiced in different ways at different times within the diversity of Christian communities.

 

Christian fasting is not a repression of desire for food and drink, but an opportunity to temporarily distance ourselves from biological instinct to eat whatever desirable nut or berry is within reach and the freedom of the human will and  the cultural conditioning to “Feed Your Craving.”  In this transcendence of our conditioning, we may grow in the virtue of temperance and return to the practice of eating with a pleasure deepened by the integration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Fasting reminds us that we are creature utterly dependent on the fruits of God’s creation for sustenance we do not take for granted when we abstain from food.  As we break through our conditioned reflex of self-gratification, we may also discover that we are creatures whose desire is not simply for food and drink but also for God.

  1.  
    1. 1 Corinthians 8:8 - Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
    2. 1 Corinthians 6:13 - “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other.
    3. 1 Timothy 4:2-5 - Through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
    4. Ephesians 5:18 - And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

 

  1. Hospitality – Sharing Bread: As we saw in the Old Testament and Gospels, hospitality to those around us experiencing hunger are our responsibility to care for.  We are to do for the “least of these”. 

 

Hunger knows no season, and something comparable can be practiced all year round. Prolonged hunger is physically and spiritually harmful to adults and will permanently scar a child.  There are hundreds of organizations and institutions that are feeding people, empowering people to feed themselves, and caring for the land that feeds us all. 

 

Sharing bread can be done both in our homes and in our faith communities. 

 

  1.  
    1. 1 Corinthians 11:34 - If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
    2. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 - As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

 

  1. Communion celebration: We see throughout the rest of the New Testament a focus on coming together for eating as part of our remembering and participating in the last meal of Christ during Passover.  Joining together and remembering how we came to be together in the first place.  We would not have come to table without the Lord’s Supper. 
    1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 - So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    2. 1 Corinthians 11:20 - When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat.
    3. 1 Corinthians 11:26 - For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

 

Ways in which Eating and drinking bring us into deeper relationship with one another:

Acts 2:43-47 - Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

 

  1. Joining together as one body, one church.
    1. Acts 14:17 -Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
    2. Romans 14:17-21 - For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
    3. Ephesians 3:6 - This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
    4. Ephesians 5:30 - Because we are members of his body.
    5. 1 Corinthians 15:38-39 - But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
  2. Removing Stumbling Blocks: Since the Jewish laws of eating no longer held the believers captive under Christianity, the very clear differences between Jew and Gentile eating together were removed.  The limitations that prevents people from eating together were abolished through Jesus.  Eating at table was meant to bring people together.  To build up the body of Christ, in doing that they had to remove the limitations that would cause further transgression and distance in relations with one another and God. 
    1. Acts 10:10-14 - And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
    2. Romans 14:1-23 - As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. ...
  3. Building Community: Eating and drinking together is a means of uniting the community of believers.  The Community is lifted up when the fruits of the Spirit are exemplified.  Believers are to eat of the fruits that build up the community and bring us into closer relationship with one another.  The fruits of the spirit bring us together and build up the body of Christ.  When the fruits of the spirit are present, there is no place for hate. 
    1. Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
    2. Colossians 4:6 - Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

 

Current Practices of Eating and Drinking in the church today.

  1. Fellowship
    1. Building up the Body
    2. Caring for the Body
  2. Communion - Celebration of Christ’s Sacrifice

June 28, 2017
SUNDAY WORSHIP

 

Worship Service 11:00AM

Adult Bible Study   9:45AM

Children's Class  11:00AM 

   

SERMON ON SUNDAY: July 2, 2017  "Welcome"

 

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