First United Methodist Church of Farmersville
We are a body of believers in Jesus Christ, united in our faith, dedicated to serving others. We welcome all, see and serve others, and know the joy of loving Jesus Christ.
We have been an active part of the Farmersville community for over 150 years, providing a spiritual home for all who seek to know Christ.
Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to Noon
206 N Main Street
Farmersville, TX 75442
P.O. Box 680
Farmersville, TX 75442
FUMC Farmersville on Facebook
During the days of Jesus the Scribes were known as being some the best interpreters of the Law. Like the Pharisees, they were great scholars who were respected for their knowledge and interpretation of the Torah. Far more than just interpreters, however, they were also known for making copies of the Torah. They perpetuated the Hebrew Scriptures by making copies of it. They were kind of like the Jewish Publishing House — if you wanted a copy of the Torah Scrolls, you’d go to the Scribes to have it produced.
The Scribes didn’t only copy of the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew canon, they also copied the great Pharisaic commentaries on the Torah. They produced the Talmud – the Mishnah, and its other elements. So it’s not at all surprising that, as it’s told in Mark’s Gospel, it’s a Scribe who asks Jesus this question about the Greatest Commandment. He’s wanting Jesus to do what the great Pharisee teachers have been doing for many years: provide an interpretation of the Law upon which he could form a Mishnaic teaching.
The Greatest Commandment that Jesus said existed in the Torah – In the Law of Moses – is also found at the very CORE of the Hebraic and the Christian Faith. Surprisingly, it’s not one of the 10 Commandments, though one might think it ought to be. No … it’s the “Shema Israel” found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5
"Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad."
When the Scribe asked him his question, Jesus’ response was rooted in the very CORE, the very the HEART, the very CENTER, of Jewish Faith.
Not anything new, nothing surprising … this is absolutely rock-solid, foundational stuff. As it is found in the Torah itself:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NRSV)
Jesus says that this the Core of the faith. And he doesn’t seem the be limiting it to Judaism … he’s saying that as a universal affirmation.
"“Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’" (Mark 12:28b-30 NRSV)
That’s the first, the greatest, the most central, the most critical, the commandment of primer importance. There are other commandments, but they all flow from this one.
And he gives an example of that too! He wasn’t asked “What’s the first and second commandments,” and Jesus offers this next bit “free of charge!"
"31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31 NRSV)
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is also nothing new. It’s not novel or invited out of whole cloth, it’s also from the Torah … … the second half of Leviticus 19:18.
This was what Jesus thought was important. This is what Jesus identified as being at the very core of the Faith. One might expect all sorts of rules and regulations … after all, that’s what we’d do … but not Jesus. Jesus chose the simple, central core of the Faith as being or primer importantance.
So why do we choose other parts over what Jesus chose?
We tend to major on the minors. We think our pet theologies, our favorite issues and subjects, those that we like to pound on the most, are the most important, and that the Whole Gospel and the Whole Church will rises or fall, succeed or fail, based upon those few matters.
And, to make it worse, we may have cherry-picked a specific law or two out of the Bible – out of the 5 Books of Moses or even out of the New Testament – to proof-text … i.e., prove … our point. But that’s just a couple, or a few, or at most a handful of laws supporting our pet subject or issue … a few, often obscure laws out of the 613 mitzvotim … laws or Commandments … to be found in the Full Torah!
Yes, there are 613 Commandments in the Torah. But we usually prefer to ignore most of them in favor of just the few that we want to use at a given moment to beat on other people.
And when we do that, we’re not even choosing the two that Jesus chose as being the “Most important Commandments.”
In fact, we’re often doing so contrary to that Greatest Commandment of Jesus.Mark 12:28-34 By: Dr. Gregory S. Neal Senior Pastor: First United Methodist Church of Farmersville, Texas October 14, 2018 … See MoreSee Less
I can remember one of the first times I took communion. I’m not sure if it was THE first time … it might have been, I don’t know … but it certainly was one of the first times I ever received the Lord’s Supper. I can remember Mom explaining to me how important it was.
How Holy it was.
How special it was.
How it wasn’t a time to play around or be silly.
That it wasn’t a “regular snack time.”
In Kindgergarten we would eat Graham Crackers at lunch.
This was different. These were Jesus Crackers. And when I ate the crackers and drank the juice I would know that Jesus loved me.
What a wonderful way to put it … and not just for Children, but for all of us! When we eat and when we drink of the sacramental elements of bread and wine, we will know and experience Jesus’ loves for us.
We receive nourishment, yes: Spiritual nourishment for our Spiritual living. But, more than that, we receive what we need – The Sanctifying Grace of God – to move forward in our Christian living. Indeed, without these infusions of God’s amazing grace, we cannot move forward!
This is one of the reasons why it is so sad that so many people are afraid of receiving Holy Communion. They will say things like: "But Greg, I’m not worthy to receive! So, I’d better not receive it because if I do I’ll get in trouble!" I’ve repeatedly heard these kinds of arguments over the past 27 years of my ministry. They’re usually the result of VERY BAD preaching upon the King James translation of our reading today:
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:27 KJV)
After reading that, the preacher would often say something like:
“You’ve gotta be worthy to receive! It says so right there in the Bible.”
But it doesn’t say that at all! It’s not just bad preaching, it’s bad English! “Unworthily” is an ADVERB, not an adjective! It describes the ACTION, not the ACTOR!
The NRSV renders this verse correctly:
"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 11:27 NRSV)
And what is an unworthy manner!?
"For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves." (1 Corinthians 11:29 NRSV)
If we eat and drink without discerning the Lord’s Body, we are not partaking in a worthy manner. What does it mean to discern the Body of Christ? It means recognizing several things:
Firstly, it means that through the elements of bread and wine we have conveyed to us, in a mystery beyond our comprehension, the real presence of Jesus. Indeed, in the Untied Methodist Church today we pray over the elements: "make them be for us the body and blood of Christ"; we must be open to discerning this Holy Mystery in both our minds and in our actions. Sadly, the Corinthian Christians were failing to recognize the presence of Christ during Communion. Some of them had an overabudnance of food and wine, and so they were getting stuffed and drunk while ignoring those in their midst who had very little and were being left out. Their failure to discern the Body of Christ in and through the elements lead them, and us, to another way in which we fail to discern the Body of Christ.
Secondly, it means that the body of Christ is present in our neighbors – in our Christian sisters and brothers. If Christ is present in our brothers and sisters in the Church, how can we ignore them, mistreat them, and sometimes even go so far as to deny their identity as brothers and sisters in Christ!? And, yet, we do! When we deny the Christian identity of our fellow believers in Jesus by words and our actions, we are failing to discern the Body of Christ!
Thirdly, discerning Christ in our fellow Christians means that we should be treating not only each other as we would treat Christ, we should even be treating the stranger in our midst as if they were Jesus. If we give a cup of water, feed, clothe, or help another in Christ name, we do so to Jesus.
We must discern Christ’s presence in our midst: in the sacrament, all the other means of grace, in each other, and in those whom we meet. And when we do, God’s grace abounds.1 Corinthians 11:17-34 By: Dr. Gregory S. Neal Senior Pastor: First United Methodist Church of Farmersville, Texas October 7, 2018 … See MoreSee Less