SERMON TITLE: “Practicing Communion”
SERMON TEXT: Luke 22:14-20
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: October 3, 2021, at First UMC
In his 2008 book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell wrote that the difference between those who were good at something and those who were phenomenally good at the same task was the amount of time they had spent working on it. For example, if you wanted to be a fantastic violinist, computer programmer, or race car driver, the key was to practice, practice, practice. Gladwell’s rule was that to become really skilled at any highly complex task, a person should expect to put in 10,000 hours of study and practice.
Obviously, not everything we do is highly complex, and some skills can be mastered rather quickly. But, still, there’s something to be said for practice. In the history of Christianity and other religions of the world, religious practices are an important part of faith. While some folks think that it’s good enough to hold some basic beliefs, the religious masters always put in lots of time practicing prayer and praise, practicing spiritual connection, practicing service to God and neighbor, practicing their study of sacred scriptures, and practicing spiritual growth.
In the United Methodist Church, we come out of the tradition of John and Charles Wesley. Those brothers who lived in England in the 1700s were both students at Oxford University. While other students were behaving in the frivolous way that many college students do, the Wesley brothers and some of their friends met together for Bible study and prayer. They went out into the community to visit prisoners and the sick. And they raised funds to help widows and orphans. Because John and Charles and their friends were so super-conscientious with their spiritual practices, other students made fun of them and called them “Methodists.” For 300 years since, our spiritual heritage has been a methodical and disciplined practice of our faith.
So, on this World Communion Sunday, I thought it might be appropriate to focus our attention on the spiritual discipline of holy communion. Why would we devote ourselves to this ritual? What’s the benefit of practicing communion?