Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 10-06-19 Sermon – “A Treasure to Share”

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Luke 17:5-10; 2 Timothy 1:1-14

The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday. On this Sunday, Christians around the world gather to worship and share the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  As we gather today, we celebrate the presence of our Lord and Savior among His people at communion tables around the world.  Communion tables in small churches, communion tables in big cathedrals, communion tables under trees. Communion tables from every culture, every land, every people, every tongue and every global situation possible. Many of our brothers and sisters are now celebrating communion under persecution and life threats.  As we, the Body of Jesus Christ gather to celebrate World Communion Sunday, we do a bold thing: We dare to proclaim peace and hope for the world; we dare to proclaim our faith in God and in our future in the midst of a culture -that even when people believe in God- they have stopped believing in His body-the Church. On this day we dare to proclaim unity not only within the church of Jesus Christ, but within our country and within humankind. In World Communion Sunday we celebrate what Paul stated in Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Today, in World Communion Sunday, Christians around the world dare to imagine a new world. A world without anger and abuse; a new world without addictions and neglect; a world without greed and pride; a world without murder and rape; a world without oppression and torture; a new world free from wars and racism and xenophobia; a new world -where, as Isaiah reminds us in chapter 11- The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. A world where the cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. A world where the infant will play near the cobra’s den and the young child will put his hand into the viper’s nest. A new world where there will be neither harm nor destruction, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  In this new order described by the prophet Isaiah -and we dare to proclaim today-, there will be not hunger. There will be not children going to sleep with an empty stomach; there will be not weapons of mass destruction because we will be real brothers and sister in Jesus Christ. In this new world the elders will have what they need to live with dignity and the whole creation, animals, trees and oceans will be respected.

The name for this Sunday might bring confusion to some, because we might believe that we are celebrating communion as a Christian ceremony in which bread is eaten and juice or wine is drunk as a way of showing devotion to Jesus Christ. And that is true; we celebrate Communion as a Sacrament. However, our celebration today goes a little further. We celebrate Communions with a flavor of the Christian celebration of Pentecost as well, when people from around the Mediterranean world came together in mutual understanding and inspiration, by the power of the Holy Spirit regardless of their different languages. Therefore, today besides eating and drinking we will celebrate God’s dream to see His creation living in harmony; God’s dream to see His children loving each other regardless of their differences, because He is the One who created us different. As the Hispanic Creed we just read reminds us, “We believe in God… Creator of the all peoples and all cultures; Creator of all tongues and races.        

          By now some of us might be thinking that it is impossible to live in harmony. And to those who believe it is impossible I ask, Is not our God, God of impossible? Thousands and thousands of Christians around the world are celebrating that today, that peace and harmony are possible because we still believe in what Jesus has done in our lives; we still believe in what faithful Christians have done in history and we also believe that God’s power, love and purpose are still the same. Jesus still wants to bring men and women around the world together; He still wants to see what Amos 5:14, reminds us “His justice roll on like a river and His righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

          But in order for this to happen we must believe that what Jesus said in Luke 17:6 is true today, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey.” That kind of faith which Jesus is talking about is not magic; but something we must practice in our life; that kind of faith must be shown and be tested thru our love for our neighbor and our enemies. When Jesus came, Samaritans and Jews were enemies for over 500 years, but God’s love and I would say, God’s faith in humankind shown in Jesus broke down all those historical barriers when Jesus took time to talk with the Samaritan woman; and when they exchanged waters. When the woman gave Him water from Jacob’s well and Jesus gave her water from the fountain of eternal life; those barriers were broken down by Jesus when He did not force her to come to worship at the temple but instead he offered her a neutral place. Not hers, nor Jesus’, but anywhere in Spirit and truth. This is the message of Reconciliation and Peace that Jesus came to preach; this is the message of Reconciliation and Peace he wants us to share. This is the “the good treasure entrusted to us” as Paul told Timothy. I know that it is not easy to believe that we can -with God’s help- change the world. However, remember is not us but the message, the treasure entrusted to us that changes people.

          Usually when we hear the word treasure, we think it is something that is hidden or something we must hide. But the treasure Paul is talking about must guard it, not hidden.           Paul carefully reminds Timothy of what the gospel can do. In verse 9, he reminds Timothy of the power of the gospel to save people. In verse 10, he reminds Timothy of the gospel’s power to bring both life and offer immortality. Simply stated, the gospel -according to Paul- is a treasure because it has the power to save, it brings life, and it offers immortality. Salvation, as well as life is something this world needs and is longing for. And God entrusted us the treasure of His Gospel not to hide it but to guard it. How can we guard the Gospel?   

          First, we guard the gospel when we spread it. In doing that, we ensure that its power and influence is greatly multiplied.

          Second, we guard the gospel by living it each day. When we walk with personal integrity as Christians, we guard the gospel. When our walk and our talk match, Christ is honored.

 So often our irregular behavior makes the gospel doubtful. Rather than guard the gospel we give nonbelievers an opportunity to criticize it. When we fail to practice what we preach, we harm the cause of Christ.

          Today we will come to the communion table in memory of Jesus. In memory of His ministry; we will come in memory of His power, love and purpose. We will come to the communion table to celebrate what Jesus has done in our lives and in the lives of others who are not like us; we will come and we will ask Him to help us to not only know his love, but to guard and practice this love. Love that has the power to transform enemies in friends. When you come to the table today ask God to increase your faith, so we can believe that we, with his help can make the difference in this World by sharing His Gospel. 

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