November 5, 2023, The Benefit of Sacred Nourishment, Pentecost 23

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another. Therefore, let us confess our sin before God and one another.
Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will, we have broken your law, we have rebelled against your love, we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy. Forgive us, we pray. Free us for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
All pray in silence.
Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!
In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Glory to God. Amen.

HYMN 117 O God, Our Help in Ages Past
Westminster Abbey – Oh God Our Help in Ages Past
O God Our Help In Ages Past by Life at Pathway (acoustic guitar)

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Dear Lord, This morning as I contemplate a new day, I ask you to help me. I want to be aware of and filled with your Spirit—leading me in the decisions I take, the conversations I have, and the work I do. I want to be more like you, Jesus, as I relate to the people I meet today—friends or strangers. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 620 One Bread, One Body
One Bread One Body with Lyrics by John Michael Talbot

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: The Benefit of Sacred Nourishment
John 6:47-58, Romans 6:3-6, 1 Cor 10:16-17, Matthew 8:24-27, Matthew 18:20
Series: The Benefits of Belief

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio


John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”

Romans 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.


HYMN 377 It is Well With My Soul
Guy Penrod, David Phelps – It Is Well With My Soul (Live) [Gaither Music]

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!


I was a little uncertain how to describe the Benefit of Belief for today. And the words I chose were Sacred Nourishment because there are ways that God nourishes us, especially in a time of trouble. Matthew 8:24 says and behold, there arose a great storm on the sea so that the boat was being swamped by the waves. But he, Jesus, was asleep. And they went and they woke him saying, “Save us, Lord. We are perishing.” One of the other gospels says, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” And Jesus said to them, “Why are you afraid, oh men of little faith?” And then he rose and rebuked the winds in the sea. And there was a great calm. Quite a miracle.

But the very next words cause you to wonder the reason why the disciples woke him up. Verse 27, “And the men marveled saying, “‘What sort of man is this that even winds and sea obey him?'” You see, there’s a part of my mind that thinks that they woke up Jesus to bail water because they didn’t realize who he was. And they didn’t realize what he could do. Nonetheless, when they turned to him, a miracle happened and Jesus provided what they needed when they cried out to him for help. But I wonder how surprised they were that he had a different way to help than they anticipated.

Now, think, brothers and sisters, about what we anticipate and what we expect when we pray. And I’ll share with you a particular failing of mine. You see a lot of this around us these days – farmers at work in the harvest. It’s a form of God providing for us. But I would like to tell you that I am the kind of person that would take a comfortable chair out to the machine shed and sit down and pray over all the equipment that farmers use during harvest and say, “Lord, why don’t you drive the combine this year?” And I’ll just sit here and listen to music. God, why don’t you show us a miracle? Because I think it just makes so much more sense if I just pray that the ears of corn would jump off the stock right into the grain bin …” because I’m tempted to pray prayers like that.

But the normal way that God provides for us is that God provides us with work that meets our needs. And God provides us with tools to do the work. And no matter how much the preacher would prefer that God would drive the combine, it’s left for human beings to do that work. And so, through the work of others, God provides us with food. Normally, this is how God provides.

While miracles are true, and I believe in miracles, usually God gives us the tools to do God’s work. I would like to ask you to pray for me! There is, in my body, what’s called a spinal stenosis. It is a narrowing of the tube that is my spine. It’s a narrowing in the opening through which the spinal cord runs. And there are places in that spinal cord that are narrowing. And so,consequently, occasionally, Pastor Dave will bend the wrong way and wish that he had not! Occasionally, in the middle of the night, Pastor Dave will roll over, and he will say to himself, “Don’t roll over that way.” And I pray every night that God would change that and fix that. Just like He stilled the storm.

And every single night, I’m reminded that the orthopedic doctor at Carl Clinic gave me some physical therapy exercises to do twice a day. And I’m reminded, and I think the Lord’s behind it, that I shouldn’t have stopped doing those exercises a year ago, and I’d probably better start doing them again. Would you all agree? Do me a favor. Pray for me. Pray for me that the miracle would happen.

But also, please pray for me that I would actually do the work because sometimes the miracle happens through what you and I do. Sometimes a part of the miracle is left for us to do.

Nonetheless, every now and then, the best equipment, whether it’s my spine or your combine, breaks down, and thank God for what we call tech support. This is an actual picture of the computer in my office here at the church. And you can see why, from time to time, I might need to call tech support because it’s just a mess!

And here’s the very first thing when you call for help, when you call tech support, here’s the very first thing they will ask you … The very first thing they will ask you is … you probably know what it is! Is it plugged in? Now, you can laugh all you want, but you would not believe how many times people realize it’s not plugged in.

The second question tech support will ask you is, is it turned on? And you would be astonished at how many times, no matter how often a person insists that it is turned on and it is plugged in, that it’s not. So the third thing that tech support says is, “Are you sure?”

“Oh, I’m sure.”
Well, seriously, go check.

And there are times that I will get down on the floor or Vervadene will do it and crawl under the desk – hey, she’s closer to the floor! And we’ll check to make sure that everything’s plugged in because you see things like this, the most basic things, quite often, are the problem. And whether it’s my physical health or your combine running the way it should or something in your spiritual life, these same questions apply to us.

Are you plugged in?
Is your spirit turned on?
Are you sure?
We’d better go check.

So, let’s talk about what it means to be plugged in. You may not have ever heard of baptism being compared to this, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Romans 6:3 has these words. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

I’d like to ask you to think back to the baptism of Jesus. As Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit, the means of spiritual power, came down upon him in the form of a dove. I think that’s why I can call this being plugged in. Friends, spiritually, you and I were meant to be connected to the power of God. We were designed and made by God to be plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit. And this verse illustrates how that power works: a connection in baptism is made with the death of Jesus on the cross. And through that, you’ll read in the later verses in Romans 6, we are able to resist the temptation of sin. And that connection with his death also allows us to also have a connection with His resurrection power so that you and I have the option to rise, to walk in newness of life. Everything new that God does in your life comes through this connection with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with the death of Christ on the cross, with the Holy Spirit descending to work from within you. So it’s a good question to ask, am I plugged in? For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Now, let’s assume that something bad has happened and all of a sudden you realize that you are unplugged. You have walked through without paying attention and your foot has pulled the cord out of the socket. Some people think if they have a problem, they need to go be rebaptized. The United Methodist Church doesn’t agree with that, because baptism is like rewiring the whole house – it provides the connection. All that’s really needed is for you to plug yourself back in so that God’s power can flow. I don’t know if you’ve noticed the prayer that we pray in the bulletin on Sunday morning. It’s a prayer each morning. You could pray this each day: Lord, I need to be plugged into you today. So if you’re feeling a little far away from God, if you’re feeling that terrible things have happened to you, there’s not a need to be rebaptized because God has already done this work in you; God has already built the connection. But there is a need to be plugged in because you need the continual refreshment, nourishment of the presence of God in your life.

But the source of it comes up from the day you are baptized. Now, if you’re here and you’ve never been baptized, come and see me. We’ll take care of it. But most of us probably have. Baptism is a source of energy and nourishment for our daily life. And it’s not the only one.

There’s another thing. We call them sacraments. That’s why I said sacred nourishment. And the other sacrament is holy communion. And the promise related to this that is most shocking actually comes from John chapter six. Jesus just threw this out to the crowd and they had no idea what he was talking about because the greatest heresy, blasphemy, anathema that a Jewish person can imagine is for a holy person to consume blood. It’s just not done.

Yet in John 6:47, Jesus says this, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, the bread that fell from heaven in the desert, and they died.” Verse 50, “This is the bread which comes down from heaven that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the bread. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. And if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. And then Jesus says these words which are so shocking to the Jewish folks: He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. And 2,000 years later, you and I know exactly what this means – he’s referring to Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper. You and I know exactly what this means, but please keep in mind, they did not!

Jesus says, verse 57: the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father. So he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died. He who eats this bread will live forever. As a human being, you were created to live a life connected to the power of God through baptism, but also nourished by the spiritual food which Jesus Christ wanted you to have. You take bread into your body, and it gives you the energy to act. It gives you the materials by which new bones and muscles are made. When you are connected to Jesus Christ through this gift of holy communion, Jesus Christ in your life nourishes you. I am certain I’ve never driven a combine. I know that I have not. But I’m pretty certain that those who drive them do not take them out to the field with a gas tank empty. You are not meant to live your life running on empty. Instead, you were meant to run your life filled with the support and the goodness of God. And what is that? That is the nourishment that bread gives the body, but it’s also the nourishment that comes to us through water, through liquid.

And think just a minute when Jesus says, “Drinks my blood.” When you drink grape juice, it goes into your belly. It goes through the membrane of your digestive system, and it goes into your blood. Imagine, if you will, a glass of water into which you have dropped the grape juice equivalent to a cup from the communion table. You’ll notice the color spreads throughout the whole water glass. If we take Jesus literally, this is a symbol of the way forgiveness functions. Or if we take Jesus literally and it’s his blood spreading throughout our body, there is not a part of your body that is not touched by the fluid that flows through your veins.
And so forgiveness, the washing away of all that is not right, touches every part of your physical body, touches every part of your brain. And not only that, again, whether it’s a symbol or real, you and I are now blood brothers and sisters. You and I, like a family, we have the same blood running through our veins. You and I are connected by this forgiveness. We are connected in a way that is very real. You are meant as a human being to be filled with this forgiveness.

So let me go out on a limb here and say it might occur to you from time to time, if you’re struggling spiritually:

How long has it been since you took communion?
How long has it been since you came to church?
How long has it been?

Along with that challenge, I’ll also say this: if you feel God telling you that you need to take communion, you come and find me. We’ll have communion. I don’t care if it’s every day. I don’t care if you just call me on the phone, “Pastor, I’ll be at the church office in five minutes. I have been praying. I feel like I need to take communion.” Well, then we will. If you’re in a hospital bed, I will bring it to you there. I know of churches like ours who celebrate communion on the first Sunday of the month, but in the back, they have a table, and they have the grape juice, and they have the bread. And people who weren’t able to be there on the first Sunday, they’ll go to the back on the second Sunday, and they’ll take communion. If you feel the spiritual need to take communion, I want– plus, it’s my job — I want us to take communion together because I am convinced that it makes a genuine difference in your spiritual life and my spiritual life, and John Wesley would agree.

Here’s what Paul says, 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The cup of blessing, holy communion, which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?” We participate in the blood of Christ when we take communion. “The bread, which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” When we share that bread, we participate in the body of Christ. And because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body just like that hymn we sang, for we all partake of the one bread.

Let me back up to make a point I forgot to make. Notice the verse 56 there, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” There are beautiful promises from John 15 about what happens when we abide, when we participate in the sharing of communion.

Welcome to a participation! Welcome to something that connects us to each other, because one bread becomes many pieces of bread. And within each one of us, it connects us together. One bottle becomes many little cups. And as we participate with each other, it connects us together. And we’re not running on empty but filled. We’re not unplugged, but we’re connected to the source of our power. What we do here is to participate.

And so consequently, if you could call tech support for holiness, whatever that is, you will be asked: Are you plugged in? Are you running on empty? Or are you full? Those are still valid questions.

Now, here’s the reality. No one actually has to call tech support, but I guess spiritual tech support, it’s me. I would be the one to ask those questions. I would say, “Let’s reconnect to God.” But you’re also able to read the manual: the Bible. Because frankly, any struggle, any difficulty you or I have, Jesus spoke about it. And the answer for any human problem can be found by asking the question, “What did Jesus say about this?”

But if you want the shorter version, tech support, myself, this is what I would say to you. The things that we do in this church connect us to one another and connect us to God. And it’s through that connection that you and I are helped and blessed by the presence of God. And it’s not just an idea we talk about! I would like to suggest to you, it’s real. When I see you here, you bless me, and I am a better person because we’ve shared this time together.

And in fact, Jesus says it very plainly. Now, Jesus is always with you, even if you’re alone. But here, what Jesus said in Matthew, chapter 18, where 2 or 3 or 20 or 30 are gathered in my name at a bible study, at a prayer meeting, at a worship service, Jesus is there. Not only that, where two or three are gathered in my name at a SALT potluck or on a SALT trip to the Heath Candy Company or even, believe it or not, at a committee meeting, Jesus is there. And we’re connected to the power and nourished by His presence.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us not to live the Christian life disconnected from other people. Help us, Lord Jesus, not to live the Christian life separate from the people who bless us. Help us not to live the Christian life, Lord, disconnected from you without the power of the presence of your Holy Spirit flowing in us. Lord, when we get unplugged for whatever reason, help us to plug back in. And Lord, when we feel like we’re running on empty, Lord, help us to be nourished by your presence and nourished by the forgiveness and the cleansing that you bring to us. Lord, thank you so much for this benefit – that life is better when we live it together. And our spiritual lives are better together. Help us to hold that idea clearly in our hearts and minds because sometimes, in the craziness of the world around us and in the anxiety that we sometimes feel that distracts us, sometimes, Lord, we forget. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis )

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