1 Corinthians 12:12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
With many other Protestants, we recognize the two sacraments in which Christ himself participated: baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Jesus himself was baptized in the Jordan river at the beginning of his ministry (Matthew 3:13-17). By doing so, he showed us the model for our own participation in the sacrament.
Read By Water and Spirit, the church's official statement on baptism.
Holy Communion, (Eucharist)
The second sacrament that Jesus explicitly tells us to do is called the Lord's Supper (Matthew 23:17-30). It is also called Holy Communion or Eucharist. Each name reflects important meaning behind the sacrament. The Lord's Supper reminds us of the Last Supper (Passover Seder) where Jesus calls us to do this, and do it often, in remembrance of him. The term Holy Communion reminds us that it is to be done in community, in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The term Eucharist, which is Greek for "thanksgiving", reminds us to be thankful of the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us at the cross.
- The Lord's Supper is a holy meal of bread and wine that symbolizes the body and blood of Christ.
- The Lord's Supper recalls the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and celebrates the unity of all the members of God's family.
- By sharing this meal, we give thanks for Christ's sacrifice and are nourished and empowered to go into the world in mission and ministry.
- We practice "open communion," welcoming all who love Christ, repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another.
Our Wesleyan Heritage
We believe in many historical and time tested truths. These include the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Jesus, two sacraments, the inspiration of Scripture, salvation by faith, as well as historical affirmations (creeds) of our faith like the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed.
One question many of us ask is "there are so many Christian denominations, which one is right?" It is true that since the beginning of the church, there have been different groups, or denominations. The Bible tells us that we live in a fallen and broken world. Unfortunately, this brokenness and division exists even in the church. But people don't go to church because it is perfect, or because the pastor is perfect, or the members are perfect. That church does not exist. Instead, we go because we worship a God that is perfect, and we want to be a better person tomorrow that we are today.
The reality is most Christians share many beliefs in common. We often share more in common than that which we disagree. And many disagreements are on heavily nuanced theological points or doctrine, or in areas of practice. However, each denomination has distinctions that make us different. This could be differences in belief, practices, or doctrine.
Today, many modern Christian denominations have turned their focus on what we have in common, which is a lot! Today, you will see churches of all denominations working together, enjoying good debate, and joining resources for the good of our communities.
As Methodist, we are distinct because we came from a movement founded by John Wesley in the 18th century. John Wesley started a movement that wanted to take the message of Jesus to all people; the poor, the coal miners, the outcasts, and to all the people the "traditional" church of that era had overlooked. This movement grew rapidly, and spread to the Americas. Eventually, the movement grew to the point where it needed a structure. This, coupled with the Revolutionary War which separated churches in America from those in England, and the Methodist Church was born.
What does this mean for me?
If you are looking for a church, you may see a lot of names on buildings and on the church sign out front. You could research the history and study the doctrine on each one..... that would take a long time! Instead, find a church that is friendly, loving, and makes you feel at home. Look for a church that preaches from the Bible. Find a church that the Spirit is working in, to make a difference in the lives of others. Find one that makes you feel like family and truly cares about you. Find one that is non-judgmental, and realizes that we are all broken, we are all sinners, we all have had failures in life. Look for a church where you can fit in. When you find it, you will know it.
What makes Methodists... Methodists?
There are many things that make us distinct. Some of which are:
The focus on God's grace. We believe God's grace continually works in the life of the believer.
The focus on God's love. We believe our God is a loving God, whose love knows know bounds. In response to this love, we believe that all people should love each other, and it should be the focal point in our lives and faith.
The focus on the nature and mission of the church. We believe the church is where we grow in our knowledge and love of God. But the church is more than that. The church is charged with making the world a better place. This is done in many ways such as advocating peace, environmental sustainability, justice, etc. We believe in making disciples (Christ followers) for the transformation of the world
Our focus on service. We believe we should serve our communities and the world. Jesus tells us he came not to be served, but to serve. (Matthew 20:28) As followers of Christ, we too want to serve. Whether it is our local church, our neighborhood, our town or our nation, God's love motivates us to make a difference in the world we live in.
So what does this mean for me?
Well, if you are a history buff like me, you could really dig in! But the reality is, the church is not all about our past. That would make us a museum! Instead, it is about people today. It is about God working in the lives of individuals like you and me. It is about making a difference in the world. It is about wanting change, and understanding that all change, starts with God and me.