For God so loved. . .

He was hated and loved, feared and respected.  With the passing of Fidel Castro this week we have seen folks mourning his passing and celebrating his death.  It is interesting how polarized people seem to be in their opinions of the late dictator. 
The reality is that Castro was neither the demon nor the saint that people make him out to be.  While it is true that Castro was a dictator and despot, the regime that he toppled in 1959 was morally and economically corrupt and was governed by a dictator and despot.   
What people don’t seem to be talking about is the state of Fidel’s soul.  Remember God loved Fidel Castro so much that he gave his one and only Son . . .

Before Castro was a dictator he was a prisoner and while in prison a Wesleyan missionary couple by the name of Lyon would often visit that prison.  They would take their accordion, Bible and any other items that would help them share the gospel and grace of Christ with the prisoners. Fidel Castro was one of those prisoners.
Who knows what conversations the President of Cuba may have been having with the King of the universe during the last days of his life.  Because the same grace that saved you, could save Fidel.


–>

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

The Land of Leeks and Garlic

If I was asked to compile a list of countries that I would like to visit, Egypt probably wouldn’t be on that list.  But then again I’m pretty sure that ten years ago Ghana, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso wouldn’t have been on the list either.
I have just confirmed that I will be visiting Egypt in the late spring to meet with national leaders and Pastors of the Wesleyan Church to explore possible partnerships with the Atlantic District.  And now that I’ve committed to the trip I’m starting to get excited about it.
When we think of Egypt we often think of the Pharaoh’s and Pyramids, if we try to relate it to our faith it is all wrapped up in the story of Joseph or Moses and the Exodus.
But the history of the Christian church in Egypt dates back to Mark, the same Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark.  There is a church in Cairo where Christ has been worshipped since the 3rd century.  That’s on my list of things to see.
But I’m more excited about the church’s future in Egypt than I am about the Church’s past, and I’m always excited about speaking into the minds and hearts of pastors, regardless of where they serve.    

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

A Little Good News

“Woman reportedly raped in Dubai jailed for extramarital sex.”  “Chief defends record after 11th killing.”  “Accused pedophile dragged from jail and lynched.”  As I read the various headlines this morning, I thought back to an Anne Murray song from the Eighties. Maybe you remember it as well, it was entitled: A Little Good News.  And my favourite line in the song says “Just once, how I’d like to see the headline say ‘Not much to print today can’t find nothing bad to say.’”
And that’s how I felt today, I completely agreed with the last line of the song that says “We sure could use a little good news today.” Some days it seems like there isn’t any good news, at least not until page 4. But as a friend told me; good news doesn’t sell newspapers.
The truth is that I already know where to find good news.  The book of Mark begins with these words: “Here begins the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.”
And if you haven’t read it, here’s a synopsis; if Christ is your Lord you’re going to heaven and in heaven they don’t have to worry about selling papers. Sure hope that’s good news for you, if not it can be.
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

#abbafather

#abbafather
Have you ever heard someone pray
using the phrase “Mother/Father God”?  It
happens, every once in a while, I’ll be in a situation where a mainline pastor
is praying and they will use the phrase because they feel it will be less
offensive than “Father God” or sometimes I think they are either trying to be
theologically cute or just want to stir the pot.
And there may even be some here
today who think the concept of referring to God as “Mother” is fine.  But is that the reality?
I’m all in favour of using gender
neutral terms in the bible when it is appropriate, so “brothers” can be
“brothers and sisters”, “he” can become “they”.
For example, in the NKJV we read Matthew 4:19  Then He
(Jesus) said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you
fishers of men.”  While in
the NLT it reads Matthew 4:19  Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will
show you how to fish for people!”  And
I have no problem with that.
 But we would not consider calling Jesus a her
because we know he was a him. He was Jesus, he wasn’t Jessica.  And Jesus referred to the first person of the
Trinity as Father.  There was no doubt about
that at all and no ambiguity. 
Many times he used the Greek word
“Pater” which simply meant father, but that was all it meant.  It was the most common, perhaps formal way of
identifying his father.
When I refer to Burton Guptill, I
will identify him by saying “he is my father.”
In the Old Testament God is not
often referred to as Father, but when he is it is in this formal form.  For example, 
Isaiah
63:16
 Surely
you are still our Father! Even if Abraham and Jacob would disown us, LORD, you
would still be our Father. You are our Redeemer from ages past.
And while the Old Testament use
of Father for God is rare the concept of the Fatherhood of God takes a dramatic
turn in the New Testament.  “Father” was
Jesus’ favorite term for addressing God.  Jesus refers to God as Father over sixty times
in the first three gospels and over one hundred times in the gospel of John.  
This wasn’t just “a” way that
Jesus taught the apostles to address God, it was “The” way.
This is week six of our Hashtag
this series.  Since the beginning of
October we have been looking at various phrases and words from the Bible that
would warrant a hashtag if Social media had of been around when the Bible was
written.
And a hashtag is simply a way to
identify a common theme in social media, whether it be facebook, twitter or
Instagram.  And it is simply the # sign
followed by the theme, spelled out without spaces. 
For example this week the hashtag
I’ve used the most has been #meanwhileincanada. 
Last week we looked at
#rememberme and we focused on the story of the Last Supper.  This week we are just jumping up the time
line a little bit to the Garden of Gethsemane, where we discover Christ talking
to his Father.  
While in the vast majority of cases
Jesus uses that formal term Pater to refer to God there is an exception.   In one case he uses a different term.  And we heard that in the scripture that was
read earlier.
And I’m pretty sure that if
someone had of been there and heard Jesus’ prayer that night they would have
tweeted #abbafather.
When I first heard the term ABBA
at bible college I thought they were talking about the singing group.  And then when I realized that they weren’t
then I thought that maybe the group had a Christian background.  And they didn’t. 
In the scripture that was read earlier we
are eavesdropping on a conversation that Jesus is having with his Father. 
If you are like me, there are probably
certain talks, or conversations that you have had with your father that stick
in your mind. 
A friend of mine said he had “The talk”
with his eleven-year-old son a while back, pretty sure that was memorable, for
whom I’m not sure.  And here we are
eavesdropping on a very intimate conversation between Jesus and his father.

I am fortunate that through the years I have had a really good relationship
with Dad, probably didn’t realize it at the time but there are several
conversations that I can almost think of verbatim, even remembering where we
were when we had those conversations. 
Not all of them would be appropriate in this context. 

And as we listen to Jesus talk to his Abba we
realize that he had the type of relationship with his father that explains why
he was able to have this conversation with his Father,  Mark 14:35-36 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed
that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.
“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this
cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
And so it had come to this.  For three years he had taught for three years
he had healed.  For three years he had
tried to make a difference in his world and to direct people to his father and
now it had come down to this.  One of his
followers had already cut a deal with his enemies and he knew deep within his
heart that this was already the beginning of the end.
Others might guess what was going
to happen, he knew. From the very beginning he knew that the people would
reject him and his message and they would reject his call to draw near to
God.  He knew that he would have to die
and would have to surrender his life.  He
knew all this because he was God.  But he
also knew that he had to make the offer, he had to walk among the people and
offer them the chance to embrace him, even knowing they would reject him, but
he had to make the offer.
And so it had come to this.  And the worst part was the anticipation.  You know how you felt the last time you had
to go to the dentist to have a filling, or a tooth pulled?  You sat in the waiting room imagining how
much it was going to hurt, you could almost feel the prick of the needle as
they froze your gums, and as you heard the sound of the drill coming from the
office it was almost as if it was in your mouth.  Your blood pressure went up, your palms got
sweaty your pulse increased. Sorry, I was gone but I’m back now.
Jesus knew that before the day
was done that he would die, and not just die but die a very painful death.  Oh sure he was God he could make it so it
wouldn’t hurt, but that wasn’t a part of the plan. Dying would be the easy part;
it was Julius Caesar who said “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to
find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.”  And Jesus Christ, the son of God knew
that before the sun had set one more time that he would offer up the supreme
sacrifice for the world, not just for the world, for you, and you and you.  Because before the day was done he would
offer himself up to suffer and die.
And with those thoughts racing
through his mind he fell to his knees and began to pray.
This is the prayer of Jesus.
Mark 14:36  “Abba,
Father,”
he cried out,
“everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from
me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
The first thing we discover in
this prayer is 1) His Father Wasn’t a
Stranger
  For Jesus the Father was
not some abstract figure, he wasn’t a vague benevolent something, out there
somewhere.  Instead he was God the
Father, who loves and cares about his children, He was Abba.    When
we think Abba we think of a Swedish Disco group from the 70’s, and while that
may be what Abba means now, it is nowhere near what Abba meant then. 
Instead Abba was an Aramaic word
that meant father but more than simply father, it was the diminutive form. 
How many of you watch NCIS?  Do you remember this scene for last year’s
season finale?  (video clip of Tali
calling Tony Abba)
Burton Guptill is my father, has
been as long as I can remember, but you know something in 56 years I don’t
think I have ever called him father, ever. 
When I was younger I called him Daddy, and now I call him Dad, for a
while when I worked for him on the tugs I called him Skipper but I have never
to my recollection referred to him as father.
Abba means Daddy or Dad; it is a term of endearment, signifying a
relationship.  It’s used only three times
in the New Testament.  This was the
first.  The other two times Paul uses it
to describe the relationship we need to have with our heavenly Father Romans 8:15 So you have
not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received
God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba,
Father.”   And again Paul reminds
us in Galatians 4:6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of
his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”
And I understand that the concept
of God as our Father is not a positive for everyone.  Some people were brought up by fathers who
were cruel and vicious, who abused them physically and verbally, and that
wasn’t right.  That isn’t what fathers
are supposed to do and are supposed to behave like.  Others weren’t abused by their fathers they
were simply ignored, it would appear that their fathers had taken to heart the
words of Ernest Hemingway who said “To be a successful father… there’s one absolute rule:
when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.”
But men who abuse their children
or ignore their children aren’t fathers they are simply sperm donors.  A father doesn’t just participate in the
conception of the child he is an integral part of seeing that child grow
up.  He is responsible for loving and
caring for his children. Of providing for them and protecting them, first
against the monsters who live beneath the bed and then against the world.  And as children we understand that, Sigmund Freud said “I cannot
think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s
protection.”
And now as Jesus came to the most
crucial time in his thirty-three years on this earth, knowing as only he could
know what was about to happen he cries out to his father, to his dad, pouring
out his heart.
When you pray who do you pray
to?  A concept, a belief, some vague
deity that we find hard to define, kind of like Alfred
Jarry who said “God is the tangential point
between zero and infinity.”
I don’t think so, but if we are going to pray to God the Father
then it better be to God our Father. 
There needs to be a relationship, and He only becomes our Father when we
become his children. And how do we do that? 
Listen to the word of God, John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the
right to become children of God.
And our obligation as His Children?    Philippians 2:15
so that no one can criticize you. Live
clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world
full of crooked and perverse people.
Our lives then become evidence of that relationship, 1 John 3:10 So now we can
tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does
not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.
You are a child of God if you have
believed in Jesus and accept him and you live clean innocent lives, obeying
God’s command.  Then you can call out to
Him, Abba.
Mark 14:35-36. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering
away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus not only knew he was praying to the
Father,  2) He Understood His Father’s Power Abba, Father,” He prayed everything is possible for you.  What’s
the use of praying if you don’t believe that God has the power to answer your prayers?  Somehow we need to get our head around the
concept that everything and anything is possible for God.  And I know that some of you are out there
shaking your head thinking “but God doesn’t always answer my prayers.”  You’re right God doesn’t always answer prayer,
but not because he can’t.  We also need
to understand that we aren’t always going to be able to understand it.  I can’t explain why God doesn’t always answer
our prayers.  Personally I know that
there have been some of my prayers that I’m glad He didn’t answer.
The Angel Gabriel summed it up in Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Time and
time again in the Bible we hear the words “everything is possible for God”, “anything
is possible for God”, and “all things are possible for God.”   But understand there are things that God
won’t do.  A woman approached her pastor
and told him that she wanted him to pray that her daughter wouldn’t move in
with her boyfriend like she was planning. 
The pastor refused.  Why?  Think about it.  God doesn’t force his will on us so why would
he force our will on others?  The better
prayer might be that the daughter would seek God and embrace His
salvation.  If we have a loved one in the
Armed Forces and pray that they are not sent into battle does that mean that
someone else might be placed in danger because our husband, son or brother
isn’t there?
But God has the power to answer all our
prayers, and we need to pray believing that He will answer those prayers, but
understanding that if He doesn’t it’s not because he can’t and it’s not because
he doesn’t want the best for us, but we may have a different idea then God of
what is best for us.  Sometimes we are
like little kids and we want it all, but all isn’t what we need.
So he prayed to His Father, believing that His Father had the
power to answer his prayer and then Mark 14:36“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for
you. Please take this cup of suffering
away from me.
Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
 3) He
Knew His Father Cared About Him  
You
ever catch yourself praying for something for you and feel guilty?  It’s like somewhere along the line we have
been told that we should only pray for others. 
If we pray for ourselves then we are selfish.
That’s wrong.  When we pray
the Lord’s Prayer, that would be the one that Jesus gave the disciples, we pray
that God would give us our daily
bread, that God would forgive us,
that God would keep us from
temptation. 
A few years ago there was a bestselling book out called the Prayer
of Jabez and it looked at an obscure Old Testament Prayer that is recorded in 1
Chronicles 4:10, do you remember what he prayed?  1 Chronicles 4:10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you
would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and
keep me from all trouble and pain!”
A fairly
selfish sounding prayer but listen to the result, And
God granted him his request. 
Jesus said this about the Father Matthew 7:9-11 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread,
do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a
snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to
your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those
who ask him.
Oh sometimes when we pray for
ourselves we are praying for selfish things. 
You can’t deny that, but for the most part it’s not wrong to ask God to
be with us and to take care of us and to provide for us.  And He wants to do that, but you need to
trust his judgement.  And here is the
kicker.  It’s easy to pray to God our
Father, and it’s easy to acknowledge his power, and it’s easy to ask Him to
take care of us.  It’s tough to surrender
to His will.  
Mark 14:36“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you.
Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
4) His Desire was to Be in His Father’s Will  American
Poet  Richard
Cecil made this comment “The history of all the
great characters of the Bible is summed up in this one sentence: They
acquainted themselves with God, and accepted His will in all things.”
Think about it, the only thing anyone in the
bible got by insisting on doing their will instead of God’s was trouble.  Time and time again it is proved that God is
smarter than we are. 
If you are like me, and like most people, at
some point in your Christian life you have made a decision that you knew was
not what God wanted you to do, so how did that work out for you?
Think about it on one hand we have God, the
creator of the universe, this is the God who cast the milk way into space, who
imagined platypuses and created you.  On
the other hand we have us, most of whom can’t even figure out how to change the
digital clock in our cars.  Which isn’t
really a problem because it’s right for half the year.     
It’s no contest, and yet time and time again
we want to pray to God, “Yet I want my will, not yours.”
When Noah chose God’s will he was able to
build an ark that saved him and his family, when Joseph chose God’s will he was
able to save his family from starvation. 
When Moses chose God’s will he was able to deliver his people out of the
slavery of Egypt.  When Gideon chose
God’s will he was able to save the Israelites from the Midianites.  When David Chose God’s will he was able to
defeat the giant.
And yet when Saul chose his will
over God’s he lost his throne, when Samson chose to ignore God’s will he lost
his life, when Jonah chose his will over God’s will he ended up in the belly of
a whale.
Now you might be asking, how will
I know the will of God?  Good
question.  Paul
Little says this “Has it ever struck you that
the vast majority of the will of God for your life has already been revealed in
the Bible? That is a crucial thing to grasp.”
But you will never know what’s in
the Bible if you don’t read the Bible.
What is your prayer today?  God has only your best in mind, are you
willing to trust him?

And it’s Over. . .

–>

So, was your prediction about the US election close?
For the record I predicted Hillary to win, Trump to eventually end up in jail and at least one election related death.  Guess I was wrong.
So what happens now?  Well, here’s the news.  Christ is still on the throne, and He would have been if Hillary had won. 
There are those who said a Republican win was necessary for the United States to remain a “Christian Nation”.   Well here’s another news flash: there are no “Christian Nations”, never have been & never will be.  There might be nations with Christian leaders, or nations that embrace Christian values but Christ never called nations to follow Him, He called people to follow Him.  
The reality is that regardless of who won the election, those who are called to follow Jesus are also commanded to pray for their leader, regardless of who they voted for and regardless of what side of the border we live on.   And when those words were written the wickedness of Emperor Nero makes our modern leaders look like amateurs in that field.
But Paul didn’t just tell Christians to pray for their leaders. The most important part of that passages tells us that we are to live our lives in all godliness and holiness. 
#meanwhileincanada I’m having a Tims.   Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.

#rememberme

#rememberme.
In 2013 the British National Army Museum voted it “Britain’s
Greatest Battle”.  If you are
thinking perhaps “D-Day and Normandy” you’re close, that placed second.  Or maybe you drifted back further to the
Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Waterloo placed third.
Most of us would be hard pressed to come up with the correct
answer and that is unfortunate.   On the
location of the battle there is a monument which contains these words, “When you go home tell them of us and say for your
tomorrow we gave our today.”
And most of us don’t even know that it happened, the world
has forgotten.
It happened in Kohima, a town in Northeast India, in the
spring of 1944.  The Japanese had
launched an offensive called the “U Go offensive” with the ultimate goal of
preventing the British from liberating Burma.  
And the British decided that the Japanese forces would not get past
Kohima. 
And so on April 5 1944 12,000 Japanese troops began their
offensive, defending Kohima were 1,500 British troops under the command of
Colonel Hugh Richards.
For the next 64 days the Japanese hammered the British in
what some refer to as the “Stalingrad of the East”.   And after 64 days the Japanese retreated, one
Japanese war correspondent, Shizuo Maruyama,
wrote  “We
had no ammunition, no clothes, no food, no guns. At Kohima, we were starved and
then crushed.”
Many feel that the battle of Kohima was a
turning point in the war in the pacific. 
And yet for many it is now an non-event. 
Human memory is such a fragile thing.
This fall my preaching theme has been
“Hashtag This” and we’ve been looking at various words and phrases in the bible
that would probably have warranted a Hashtag if anyone had been tweeting or
posting on Facebook 2000 years ago.
Today we are going to the story of the last
supper which was read for you earlier, and in particular we are going to stop
for a while on #rememberme.
I think it’s fitting that Remembrance Sunday falls on a
Communion Sunday but are times to remember. 
The last supper is chronicled in the 3
synoptic Gospels, that
is Matthew, Mark and Luke.  John mentions
the foot washing but doesn’t deal with the meal itself.  And then Paul picks up the story in 1
Corinthians, in the account that we read earlier.  I always find it interesting that Paul starts
his account with these words.  1
Corinthians 11:23
 For I pass on to you what I received from
the Lord himself. Things that make me go hmmmmmm.
And there are those who would tell us that
Paul simply received this in some form of revelation from Jesus, maybe a dream
or a vision.  But what it says is this 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord
himself. 
Doesn’t say how he received it.  Hmmmmmmm.
Later in his story, Paul tells us that he
received some of his training as a Pharisee in Jerusalem, he was close to the
same age of Jesus, and he belonged to the religious groups that brought charges
against Jesus. So I wonder, now understand that this is just speculation,
Denn’s mind doing what Denn’s mind does. 
I wonder if the many stories that Luke
told, in his Gospel, of Jesus meeting and debating with the Pharisees came from
a young eye witness named Saul?  Or maybe
one of the many stories that are recorded where Jesus speaks with an unnamed
“expert in religious law”, if the person Jesus was talking to might have been
named Saul who would later change his name to Paul.   Just wondering.
I wonder if Saul may have met Jesus during
his ministry years and rejected his invitation to follow him?  I wonder if maybe he heard him speak of the
last supper in post resurrection conversations? 
But regardless of how Jesus told Paul, we
have in this account Jesus’ perspective of what happened that night.
So why did Jesus tell Paul, and why does
Paul tells us?
If
We Don’t Take the Time to Remember, We Won’t 
Paul doesn’t spell it out but the gospel
writers do, the reason that Jesus was having dinner with the Apostles was to
celebrate the Passover, the greatest celebration on the Jewish Calendar. 
But the fact that the Jewish people were
still remembering the Passover 1500 
years after it happened wasn’t accidental.  The Passover celebration was mandated and every
year the Jewish people would step away from the ordinary to celebrate the
extraordinary. 
The celebration went back to the beginning
of the Old Testament when God delivered the people of Israel from the slavery
of Egypt.  And in the book of Exodus God
spelled out the Passover celebration. 
And each element had a purpose, and that was to remind the people what
had been done for the people of Israel. 
The purpose was so they would not forget.    
And the Passover celebration is still an
essential part of the Jewish faith. 
Why?  Because around the world, in
good times and in bad, in wartimes and in peace Jews take the time to remember.
Even during World War 2 in the death camps
of Nazi Germany Passover was celebrated.  
Because the Jewish people understood that If we don’t take time to
remember, we won’t.
2000 years ago on the evening before he
would be arrested and ultimately be crucified Jesus met with his apostles for
the Passover dinner and he understood the frailty of human memory. 
And just as he had instituted the Passover 1500
years before now he defines a new point of remembrance.  In our tradition we call it Communion, others
refer to it as the Lord’s Table or the Eucharist. 
And Eucharist comes from a Latin word that meant “gratitude.”


And around the world Christians come together to celebrate and to
remember.  I have participated in
communion in six countries on four continents, and as different as they have
been in some ways they’ve been similar in many other ways. 
At Cornerstone we normally celebrate communion once a month, or so, other
churches do it weekly while others will only celebrate three or four times a
year. 
At Cornerstone we normally use pita bread, other churches use wafers
while others use matzo bread or wonder bread. 
At Cornerstone we use grape juice, for a whole variety of reasons.  You might be interested to know that the
process of pasteurizing grape juice so it wouldn’t ferment was developed by a
Wesleyan Pastor named Thomas Welsh for use in communion at his Church.  His son Thomas ultimately started a company
that began marketing the grape juice to evangelical churches as “Biblical
Wine”.
Other churches use wine instead of grape juice.  I’ve partaken in communion with red grape
juice, white grape juice, wine and in West Africa we used a fruit flavored soft
drink called Vimto and once,  because we
didn’t have anything else, we used Coke.
But regardless of what we call it, how we celebrate it or how often we
celebrate it the reason that we celebrate communion is so we won’t forget.
Later this morning and then on Friday you will be called to remember a
different type of sacrifice.   
Each year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month
we pause for two minutes of silence.  And
it is remembering the end of the First World War.  In some countries it is called Armistice Day,
in others Remembrance Day and in others Veteran’s Day and some just call it
Poppy Day. 
It was first observed in 1919 a year after
the surrender of Germany signified the end of WWI.  Now it goes beyond simply remembering the end
of that war to recognizing those who have served in the Armed Forces.  And for the most part it is a stylized night vigil. The Last Post was the common bugle call at the close of the
military day, and The Rouse was the first call of the morning.
And we do it so we
don’t forget the sacrifices made by our military.  It is not to honour or glorify war, but to
remember.  Because If We Don’t Take the Time
to Remember, We Won’t 
But it’s not just about remembering. 
It’s about remembering something. 
 
Let’s go back to our scripture
1 Corinthians 11:23-24  For I pass on to you what I received from
the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread
and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember
me.”
So the first thing is
that We Are Called to Remember the Bad
In Passover the bread
that was used was a hard unleavened bread called the Bread of Affliction.  And that comes from Exodus 16.  And it was a reminder of the suffering the
Jews had endured while they were slaves.
Even while they were
escaping there were those who looked back to Egypt with longing.   In Exodus 16:3  The
Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt!
There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have
brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”   No, they didn’t sit around
pots of meat eating all the food they wanted. 
They were confusing captivity with the Gold
Correl.  They were beaten and starved and
killed by the Egyptians, and each year at Passover the bread of affliction
reminded them of that.
And it is so typical of us to forget the
bad, if women didn’t forget childbirth every child would be an only child. 
In the communion celebration it was the Bread
of Affliction that Jesus held up and offered to the disciples.
But more than that he wanted them to
remember his words from John 6:47-51  “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life.
 Yes, I am the bread of life!  Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.
 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however,
will never die.  I am the living bread that
came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this
bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
Jesus 
wanted them to remember that he willingly gave his life for the Apostles
and ultimately for us.  It is a reminder
that not only did Jesus die for our sins but he died willingly and
painfully.   600 years before Christ
offered his body the prophet wrote Isaiah 53:5  But
he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the
punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
And if you read the gospel accounts you
discover the sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us.  He allowed himself to be beaten, to be
flogged with a whip tipped with bone and metal shards, to have a crown of
thorns pushed onto his head and to be nailed to a cross.
Sometimes as protestants we trivialize the
crucifix of the Catholic church and say “We don’t keep Jesus on the
cross.”  Oh stop it, the Catholic church
doesn’t believe that Jesus is still on the cross, they believe in the physical
resurrection of Christ.  Unlike some
protestant churches. 
But sometimes I think the Catholics
remember better than us what Jesus went through as they see him beaten and
bloody on the cross.  Another
tangent. 
And on November 11th we not only
pause to remember the time that the Armistice was signed on November 11th
1918 but we pause to remember those who died to make that a reality, those who
didn’t come home or didn’t come home whole. 
In 1879 General William Sherman spoke
to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy and said “I’ve been where you are now and I
know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the
breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the
skill you have acquired here.
Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been
through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen
thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies.
I tell you, war is Hell!”
And so today we will remember. 
At this time I’m going to ask those who
have been invited to assist with communion to come forward. 
At Cornerstone we
celebrate an open communion that is we don’t limit it to members of Cornerstone
or of the Wesleyan Church.  Instead it is
a celebration for the Family of God.  So
this morning you might be a Christ Follower and when you hold the bread you
will remember the day you decided to follow Jesus.  Perhaps you haven’t made that decision yet
but you are acknowledging that Jesus is the son of God and died for your sin
and you are remembering his life and death and resurrection.  He is offering the gift of forgiveness,
salvation and eternal life, but it is a gift that is only valid when it is
accepted. 
It was during the
Passover celebration that Jesus broke what was known as the bread of
affliction. And so two thousand years ago, Christ told his disciples, don’t
forget me, don’t forget the sacrifice that I made, don’t forget what I’ve done
for you, whenever you do this remember me and what I’ve done. 
BREAD the same night that he was betrayed, he took
bread and gave thanks saying “Blessed are you, O
Lord, our God, King of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth”
After he had given
thanks he broke the bread and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body which I’ve surrendered for you, eat
and remember what I’ve done for you” 
Distribute Elements.
Let us remember the
body of our Lord Jesus Christ that he gave up for each one of us.   It was through his sacrifice that we have
eternal life.  Take and eat with
thanksgiving for what he has done for you.  
But it wasn’t just the
bread in the Passover feast that Jesus offered up that night, if we keep
reading we discover in   1
Corinthians 11:25
 In the same way, he took the cup of wine
after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant
between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to
remember me as often as you drink it.”
Not only are we to remember the bad, We Are Called to Remember the Good.  When the people of Israel celebrated the
Passover they were first called on to remember why God rescued them but more
important the entire feast was to celebrate the fact that God had rescued them.
The feast was called the Passover for a
reason. At the end of the plagues that visited the Egyptians when they wouldn’t
permit the people of Israel to leave we are told that the angel of death came
upon the country and the first born of their flocks and herds and families
died.   But the Israelites were to mark
their homes with the blood of a sacrificed lamb and the Angel of Death passed
over their homes.
So while the Passover began with the memory
of their slavery it ended with the story of their deliverance.  Of the promise being fulfilled.
When we pause to eat the bread in the
communion celebration we are taking the time to remember the sacrifice that
Jesus made for us.  We must never forget
the price that was paid.
But then Jesus tells the Apostles that the
wine was to remind them of his blood, and just as the people of Israel were
saved and delivered because of the blood of the Passover lamb that the blood of
Christ would save us.  
We are reminded in Colossians 1:19-20  For God in all his fullness was
pleased to live in Christ,  and through him God reconciled everything to
himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of
Christ’s blood on the cross.
And again in Romans
5:9
 And since we have been made right
in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s
condemnation.
We need to remember that Jesus gave his
life for us, but we must never forget that our salvation was sealed with his
blood.  And when we drink from the cup we
are remembering the miracle of the new birth, the touch of grace and the gift
of forgiveness. 
We are reminded in 1 John 1:7  . . . the blood of Jesus, his
Son, cleanses us from all sin.
When we pause to remember later in the
service and again on Friday, we can’t forget the sacrifices that were made, the
lives that were lost, but we need to remember why they gave their lives. 
Sometimes I get a little cranky at how few
people actually take the time to go to a cenotaph on Remembrance Day.  Seriously people, it’s an hour on a day you
are getting paid to remember. 
But that’s one of the freedoms that our
vets fought and died for, so we could decide for ourselves things like that,
that we wouldn’t live under a totalitarian government who would force us to
attend their functions.   And if you want
to rake your lawn at the 11 hour of the 11th day of the 11th
month.  You can.
So let’s take a few moments and remember
what Christ did for us through the shedding of his blood, he forgave us, he
saved us.  He did for us what we couldn’t
do for ourselves.
CUP    It was after the meal that he took a
cup of wine and gave thanks saying “Blessed are
you, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine.”
And after giving
thanks he gave it to them, saying “This cup
represents the new covenant of my blood. 
Whenever you drink it, remember the cleansing power that my blood has
had in your life.” 
Elements are passed
As we drink let us
remember the blood of the lord Jesus that was shed for you, and for your
eternal salvation.  Whenever you drink it
remember that he shed it for you and be thankful.
But when we remember we not only remember
the past, and we not only remember the present, but we look ahead to the
future. 
1
Corinthians 11:26
 For every time you eat this bread and
drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
We
Are Called to Remember the Promise
In the Passover Feast  the meal is ended with a prayer that the
night’s service be accepted by God. And then they speak the words “Next year in
Jerusalem!” Which is the hope for the Messiah to come and for the glory of
Jerusalem to be restored.
Communion for us is the acknowledgment that
the Messiah has come but more than that, Jesus tells us to remember that he
will come again.  The reminder that
whatever happens, that we’ve read the end of the book and we win. 
On Friday I will take part in our community
remembrance day ceremony at our new cenotaph and I will read the words of Isaiah
2:4
 The LORD will
mediate between nations and will settle international
disputes. They will hammer their swords into
plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.
Are you seeing the pattern?  Because that promise won’t be fulfilled until
Christ returns. 
And so we close with the words of the
Apostle John that he wrote in the last verses of the last chapter of the last book
of the bible.
Revelation
22:20-21
 He
who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!  May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s
holy people.

A Life Well Lived

Last week I drove to Quispamsis to attend the funeral of Evelyn Ingersoll, the elderly widow of one our pastors.  It’s something I do. To quote Yogi Berra, “If you don’t go to other people’s funerals they won’t come to yours”.  
 During the funeral, Evie’s daughter-in-law, used the phrase, “A life well lived.” And I thought to myself: At my funeral, I want the preacher to be able to say that and have everyone else nod in agreement.
Scott and Evie had retired from the pastorate and were dorm parents when I first went to Bible College and they helped ground me in my faith.  During those four years it was very apparent that Evelyn Ingersoll’s life was indeed “a life well lived.” She loved her God, her family and the ministry and that indeed is a life worth emulating.
The question has to be: How do we live in such a way, that people won’t have to lie at our funeral?  And I think Jesus answered that when he told us: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself.  And if you do that, then people will say nice things about you when you die.   
        
Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.