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Why United Methodist? – Part 3 – The Sacraments

I have had a long appreciation for the United Methodist understanding of the sacraments. (If you want a full theological understanding of the sacraments read “By Water and the Spirit” and “This Holy Mystery” which explains the theology of the two sacraments recognized by United Methodists, Baptism and Holy Communion. )

In a United Methodist understanding Holy Communion and Baptism are “means of grace” meaning that we experience God’s grace as we participate in the sacraments.  Some evangelical Christians tend to think of Holy Communion and Baptism as “just symbols” and Communion as “just a memorial.”  I’ve come to believe over the years that this is a very one dimensional view of what God does for us in the sacraments.

Over the many years I have officiated at the Lord’s Table I have had powerful experiences of God’s love and grace in sharing and partaking of bread and cup.  “This Holy Mystery” tells us that Christ is truly present in Communion.  It is more than mere remembrance!

I have always appreciated the United Methodist understanding of the openness of the table.  When I first partook of communion with my family in an Emmaus Gathering all the children present, no matter what age, were welcome at the table.  In fact the table is open to anyone who is seeking to have an experience of God’s love.  John Wesley believed that Holy Communion could be a “converting element” leading to the conversion of a sinner who comes to the table through the power of God’s prevenient and justifying grace.

My own personal preference is to take communion via intinction (dipping bread in a common cup) rather than with small cups and wafers because it reminds me of the oneness of Christ and the oneness of the body of Christ partaking of one loaf and one cup.  The Sacraments are a very important part of Christian and United Methodist worship.  And I appreciate the emphasis on God’s grace that weaves its way into so many facets of United Methodist theology, worship, and experience.

As I have grown in the faith God’s loving grace calling me to be more like Jesus each day has become a very important part of my spiritual journey.  Meeting Christ at the table and experiencing His presence there gives me strength, hope, joy, and a sense of communion with my Savior and His church!

I’m a New Circuit Writer/Rider

I am the Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Ceder Falls, Iowa.  My appointment to First officially started July 1 (yesterday!).  This is my first appointment in the United Methodist Church having come to the UMC from the American Baptist denomination.  In recognition of starting a in an exciting new church position in an exciting faith family I decided to fire up a new blog.

On this blog I will be talking about happenings at First United Methodist Church, the activities, ministries, and mission of the church and in particular the Greenhouse contemporary worship service which I will be preaching in on a weekly basis.

I will also share reflections on my growing understanding of the United Methodist faith family and anything else that I find interesting.

I also wanted to share a bit of information about the name of the blog.  I have been a member of Ecunet for many years.  Ecunet is one of the oldest and most interesting faith communities on the internet.  The history of Ecunet is too long for me to share it all here.  But at one time one of the constituent networks on Ecunet was “Circuit Writer Network.”  It was a network for United Methodists on Ecunet.  And while I was mainly a reader of ABNET, I enjoyed reading the Ecunet notes on Circuit Writer Network as well.  I’m sorry to say that Circuit Writer Network is no longer active.  But I alway thought the name was creative.  It is an obvious play on words for Circuit Rider.  So I have adopted part of the name as the name of my blog.

United Methodist pastors are “itinerant.”  This means that those of us serving in the UMC agree to be placed where the Bishop and the Cabinet of the Conference believe we can best lead and help in ministry in the Annual Conference.  UMC pastors are sent to local churches and when ministry needs arise, “itinerate” or move to another ministry setting under direction of our Bishop and the Cabinet.  In the beginning of the Methodist movement circuit riders road on horse back all over the country side preaching, teaching, and leading people to faith in Christ among Methodist societies and churches and circuits they were assigned to.  I will share more about itinerant ministry in future blog posts.  But suffice it to say I found the name “Circuit Writer” compelling in recognition of the unique servant ministry of circuit riding ministers and the fine networks that were once a part of the Ecunet family.