Connected or Disconnected?

Dear Friends,
 
I know it’s only Monday, but I pray your week is going well so far. My prayer for you this week is that you are connected to Christ. 
 
I pray you are connected to The Vine. I pray you are able to “abide” in Christ and find hope and comfort and
 peace. The word “abide” literally means to “make one’s home in.” Our scripture this coming Sunday from the gospel of John (John 6:51-58) challenges us to abide in Christ – in a rather alarming way.
 
Jesus says in verse 56, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I abide in them.”
 
We have the benefit of hearing these words “post-resurrection”. We can filter these words of Christ through what we have read and learned about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. We have heard, know, and understand these words in light of the sacrament of Holy Communion. Imagine how the crowds, the Jews, the disciples of Christ – first heard these words. They would have sounded cannibalistic, grotesque, crude, and alarming!
 
We are in the fourth week now of John’s narrative on Jesus as the Bread of Life. In this text this week, Jesus is moving from an emphasis on teaching that he is the Bread of Life, to the urgent teaching of them eating his flesh (bread) and drinking his blood! He has determined that the crowds need to hear this teaching as plainly (and bluntly) as possible, because they continue to not understand or comprehend.
 
This approach works, I believe. Which is good, because they (as do we) need to be reminded of the importance of staying connected to Jesus as our Source of Life. He uses the word “abide”, emphasizing that we are to literally make our home in Him – in as intimate way as possible – by eating his body. As we eat food, it breaks down and courses through our entire body and blood stream, nourishing us along the way. Eating and digesting is an intimate process that we take for granted. By believing that Jesus is the Bread of Life and immersing ourselves in prayer, devotion, worship and study, and when participating in Holy Communion, we too, are eating and digesting the spiritual food which then courses through our bodies and bloodstream, keeping us as connected to Christ as possible. 
 
When we don’t not understand or seek to understand the importance of this connection, we become disconnected. Jesus knows this, which is why he so bluntly reminds us to abide in him, to stay connected to him as the Source of our Life. To choose to disconnect from Christ, is to choose to die. The image of the vine and the branches is a helpful one. The image of a hot coal being removed from the fire is a helpful one. In both cases, when the vine is removed or when the coal is removed, they die. They need the source of life that the branch and the other coals and embers are providing that enables life. What images come to mind for you that might be helpful when thinking about being connected or disconnected from Christ?
 
This Sunday, I’ll go deeper into these thoughts and this text. I invite you pray about it and spend time with the text as you prepare for worship.
 
I remind you that this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. we will be packing food for Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids. This is an important ministry to be a part of and I am thankful for the generous response to signing up to serve. I look forward to hearing how it goes and about the fun at the picnic that is scheduled afterward. Keep in mind that this Sunday is also our monthly Mission Sunday where we will be collecting financial gifts designated for Feed My Starving Children. Please give generously as this program feeds thousands of hungry children and families globally, but sometimes their meals also show up in our local food shelves.
 
One more reminder – we are having a follow-up meeting to our first Children’s, Youth, and Family ministry meeting that was help on August 5, this Sunday, August 19 in the Church Lounge, following worship at 10:30 a.m. Your input and ideas are welcomed!
 
Have a great week and rest of your Summer. Exciting plans are being made for the Fall at First United Methodist!
 
Connected in Christ,
 
Pastor Dale