Getting Ready For Sunday: How to Prepare for Worship at Uptown, September 21, 2014

“I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somethin called ‘catch and release.’ Catch and release? I nodded solemnly, suddenly nervous and curious at the same time. ‘That really bothers me’, Denver went on. ‘I just can’t figure it out. ‘Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that’ll look. Then we eat what we catch…in other words, we use it to SUSTAIN us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all the trouble to catch a fish, when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.’ He paused again, and the silence between us stretched a full minute. Then: ‘Did you hear what I said?’ I nodded, afraid to speak, afraid to offend. Denver looked away, searching the blue autumn sky, then locked onto me again with that drill-bit start. ‘So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend. I returned Denver’s gaze with what I hoped was a receptive expression and hung on. Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before: ‘But if you is lookin for a REAL friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.”

This quote is from a homeless man named Denver in the book “Same Kind of Different As Me.” It has always stuck out to me because of its honesty about friendship. Denver is amazingly perceptive here about the nature of many friendships. Even though we may not use the words ‘catch and release’ to describe friendships we have had in the past I am sure we know what he is talking about. I am sure that we have all been in friendships where we are aware that our friendship is not necessarily mutual. We may be used for some kind of social gain. We know that once we are found to be of no use we will be ditched. Perhaps we have done this to others. We look around at friend possibilities and judge them on how much they can offer us. This is not the biblical model for godly friendship. 

In 1 Samuel 18 we see how intimate of a friendship David and Jonathan had. The text says that the soul of Jonathan was knit to David’s. This gives the idea that the friendship is so close that it is inseparable. It goes on to say that Jonathan loved David as his own soul. We often ‘catch and release’ friends because we are selfish, but also because we are afraid. True friendship will cost us. It will cost us time and energy. We will get hurt and burned sometimes. It is worth it though. Besides our spouses we need friends that we can share our lives with so that we can grow and be challenged. We need to be challenged and encouraged as we walk with the Lord. 

When we look to Jesus we see the perfect friend. He has in a sense caught us and will never let us go. He has knit himself to us by sending his spirit to dwell within us. We are his body. He loves us and cares for us deeply. Even though all else may look bleak and even though you may feel abandoned and alone we have a great hope in our Lord, savior and friend Jesus Christ. He will never forsake you. He will not slumber or sleep as he watches over you. As we think about the Lord and how he loves us we are built up and encouraged to love others the way that he has loved and continues to love us. We love because he loved us first. Let us come to worship on Sunday praising God for Jesus who is our real and true friend who will never let us go. 

THE WORD

Scripture: Friends are Friends Forever
Sermon: 1 Samuel 18:1-5

SONGS

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
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Oh How Good It Is (Gettys)
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How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (arr. Indelible Grace)
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Song of Preparation: Take My Life (Chris Tomlin)
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Song for the Supper: Communion Hymn (arr. Hiram Ring)
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Song of Response: Jesus What a Friend For Sinners  (arr. Traditional)
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THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

Calvin held that though the bread and wine remained unchanged (he agreed with Zwingli that the is of “this is my body…my blood” means “represents,” not “constitutes”), Christ through the Spirit grants worshippers true fellowship with himself in heaven (Heb 12:22-24) in a way that is glorious and very real, though indescribable. Christ in this sign perceived through the senses sets forth the grace of God in Christ and the blessings of his covenant. They communicate, seal, and confirm possession of those blessings to believers, who by responsively receiving the sacraments give expression to their fatih and allegience. In them God “remembers” his covenant toward us in Christ and does not give us the just wrath we deserve. The Supper is rightly viewed as a means of grace. The efficacy of the sacraments …resides not in the faith or virture of the minister but in the faithfuness of God. As the preaching of the Word makes the gospel audible, so the sacraments make it visible, and the Holy Spirit stirs up faith by both means.
                     ~ J.I. Packer

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