(Click lower right of screen for full view.)
Below is a link to a YouTube video of poor visual quality, but of immense informational content. It is about the Star of Bethlehem. However, it is much more than that; it is about our time, and how we, today, can understand things of Scripture, because of present technologies, that none in the past could fully comprehend. Truly, it is, in the opinion of this writer, an indication of our special place now in the Plan of God. The video is long, 1hr5min, and of poor quality, but indicative of what the angel said to Daniel: "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end." (Daniel 12:9)
A must see video. Check it out!
(Click lower right of screen for full view.)
...but do you know about God's Week, God's seven day/seven thousand year Week? Consider what Peter wrote in his letter: 2 Peter, Chapter 3:3-4,8-9
"...scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.' "
"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness..."
To read a series of essays on this fundamental and important doctrine of God's biblical 7000 year plan for mankind:
"View From The Pew" is here for you! With this spot you, the user of this site, may write in to have posted a spiritual, social or biblical thought, an observation or an idea on just about any topic at all. The intent of this is to give voice to our membership - you. Here it is hoped you will be encouraged to share your thoughts, feelings and/or understandings with us, your brethren. An exchange of ideas and an understanding of the thoughts and views of others will undoubtedly edify and strengthen our church community.
To submit your thoughts, ideas or comments, fill out the from below and click "SUBMIT". (Pasting a message from a word processor is very convenient.) In a day or two your message will appear here on our Home Page following Pastor Moore's Weekly Devotional, "Thoughts From Our Pastor".
An essay was recently presented here on the meaning and importance of unleavened bread and the appropriateness of its use in our sacrament of Communion. That essay can be accessed and reviewed on the Archives Page under Past Essays (select the button labeled "In Remembrance"). This essay will explore the nature and use of the other element of Communion - the contents of the cup.
Firstly, there is the obvious issue as to whether wine, the fermented juice of the grape, or unfermented grape juice itself should be used in communion. The issue today is as it has been for a couple of hundred years, primarily an issue of alcohol consumption. For hundreds and hundreds of years before that, however, such was not an issue at all. The Roman church quite confidently used, and still uses, wine in communion without any reservations at all. It wasn’t until well into the Reformation, in particular the nineteenth century and the growth of temperance did the use of unfermented juice come into practice by some of the reformed churches. It is interesting to know that it was a Methodist who in 1869 applied a method of pasteurization to grape juice. This method resulted in preventing the natural fermentation of grape juice into wine thereby insuring the elimination of alcohol from the Methodist communion service as was “recommended” by the Methodist Church at that time.
According to Daniel Benedict in an article: Changing Wine into Grape Juice: Thomas and Charles Welch and the Transition to Unfermented Fruit (published on the UMC website at http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/changing-wine-into-grape-juice-thomas-and-charles-welch-and-the-transition-) it was Thomas Welch a dentist and Methodist Communion steward who sought and achieved a non-fermenting grape juice for the Communion cup. It was his son, Charles Welch, however, who saw the economic advantages of a non-fermenting grape juice. His vision, of course, resulted in the Welch's Grape Juice brand.
I personally have no issue with the consumption of alcohol. However, I do believe wine is in fact inappropriate for use in the Communion remembrance. It is not because alcohol is present in wine that I feel wine is unsuitable as the second element of the Remembrance service. It is how the fruit of the vine becomes wine that disqualifies wine from the Communion cup.
Before we explore the what and why of that which should be in the Communion cup, it should be understood that the first Passover, the very Passover which purpose it was to foreshadow Christ and His crucifixion, had no drink prescribed at all. Lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs were all commanded to be eaten at that first Passover, but no command for drink was given. No drink is even mentioned in that narrative let alone prescribed. Of course, the actual blood of the lamb was present and a central focus of the Passover event; itself the foreshadow of Christ's very blood. But, the Fruit of the Vine which would, in fact, one day replace the blood of the slain lamb as a representation of Christ's blood, had no place in the first Passover -- especially as it more than likely would have been fermented. And why was no fermented grape juice, no wine, present at that first Passover? The very reason leavened bread was prohibited from the Passover meal would likewise prohibit wine. Wine is leavened!
The agent that brings about the fermentation process producing wine from grape juice is the same that causes bread to rise -- yeast. And, yeast is naturally abundant on the skins of grapes. Left to its own and natural propensity, the juice of crushed grapes will ferment. It is a fact, wine is leavened grape juice, and, therefore, because of that leavening, it is not even permitted in the same dwelling as the Seder meal.
Of course, just as leavening works in bread dough, consuming sugars and producing carbon dioxide and alcohol, so it does in the fermentation process with wine. The yeast introduced to the grape juice when the grapes are crushed, also consumes the sugars therein producing carbon dioxide and alcohol. However, whereas in the baking of bread the carbon dioxide and alcohol are eliminated by heat, with wine, although the carbon dioxide naturally escapes from the wine, the alcohol remains. But once again, the alcohol is not the biblical focus. It is the leavening that is a disqualifying factor.
Some who favor wine as the appropriate drink for Communion have argued that wine, because of the fermentation process, is "purified" of leaven, it being killed by the alcohol produced. There appears to be some truth to that argument. However, the same is true regards leavened bread. The heat applied in baking also kills off the leavening in the bread. Baked bread contains no yeast -- at least it contains no living yeast -- just like wine will not after fermentation. Yet the leavened bread is prohibited from the Passover meal. Therefore, it can only be concluded that "leavened" juice, wine, must also be prohibited.
Why should the leavened bread and leavened wine be rejected from the Communion remembrance when it could be argued that both had the leavening purged -- by heat for the former and fermentation for the latter? Simply put, it is because the leavening changed the two elements before it was purged! The bread and the wine were not the same elements they were before the leavening transformed them -- the one originally being crushed barley the other, crushed grapes.
So, how was it that the "fruit of the vine", which naturally carries upon itself leaven (yeast), was present at the Seder meal the evening of the crucifixion? Well, that leaven was purged from the juice before it could act upon the juice changing it to wine -- a leavened element. The ancients had a number of methods that removed the leaven from raw grape juice (or "must" as crushed grapes/juice/skins/etc. is called). One method is of particular interest here -- boiling.
It was a practice in the process of preserving the juice of the grape to boil off a certain volume of moisture from the must. The amounts varied, but boiling the must down a quarter to a third of its original volume was performed rendering the must into a thick syrup. The boiling of the must, in conjunction with reducing the moisture content and tightly sealing off the resultant syrup to exposure to air, eliminated the leavening permanently preventing the fermentation process. Thus the "fruit of the vine" was purged of leaven and the grape juice preserved as an unleavened, unfermented juice. Later,the syrup could be remixed with varying amounts of water and consumed as reconstituted, preserved and unleavened grape juice suitable for a Passover meal.
It is curious to note that is was not until the nineteenth century that fermentation was even partially understood. The Ancients could produce and use fermentation, but they had no idea what was taking place or what leaven actually was or how it did what it did in the fermentation process. Nonetheless, it appears God did. Thus, no wine was present at the first Passover nor would it be appropriate for Christ's last Passover meal before His sacrificial crucifixion.
It is my conviction then, and will be until proven otherwise, that the contents of the cup of the first Communion was boiled, preserved and reconstituted grape juice - the fruit of the vine, purged of any leavening agent and thus, coincidentally, unfermented. In light of the commands in Exodus 12 concerning the Passover, it only makes sense that such was the case. Thus, once again, alcohol, in and of itself, is not a biblical issue as Communion is concerned. But, how the fruit of the vine comes to be wine most certainly is!
As Methodist, the contents of our Communion cup is as it should be -- unleavened, and therefore, unfermented grape juice -- the very drink Christ, himself, command his disciples to consume in remembrance of Him. To be true, I look forward very much to when I put that cup to my lips once again.
Sunday School has ended for the 2015-2016 session. But be sure to visit the "Sunday School" page (see above) for all the info you will need when the next session starts in the fall. Until then, view the "Children's Story" read by Dawn Trusty during Sunday's Church Service. Also, check out the "Blessing of the Bikes" that occurred June 14, 2015.
June 24, 2015
A Psalm About God’s Nearness
Jesus told his disciples, “Lo I am with you always.” When we are feeling alone in loneliness these words are wonderful reminders of the words of the 139th Psalm. It is a reassuring reminder of God’s nearness to us at all times. It tells us of the caring that God has for everyone.
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.