Liturgy Lesson: June 6, 2021
Call to Worship: Psalm 111
Prayer of Invocation
Hymn of Adoration: Jesus Shall Reign (#441)
Confession: Jeremiah 9:23-24, Micah 6:8 and prayer
Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 103:6-12
Hymn of Assurance: He Will Hold Me Fast
Reading of the Word: Lev. 19:1-4, 9-18, 32-37
Sermon: “A Just Society”, Rev. Shiv Muthukumar
Tithes and Offerings
The Lord’s Supper: Ancient of Days; Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean
Closing Hymn: King of the Ages
Center for the Discipleship
Official Press Release: June 4, 2021
We, here at the CDC (Center for the Discipleship of Christians), would like to thank our members for their ongoing support this past year. If you are new to our organization, we extend to you a hearty welcome. As we head into the bright days of summer and leave the long, dark Covid winter behind us (hopefully), we wish to take a moment to redefine—for all our constituents—exactly who we are and why we are here.
Our organization (often called “the church”) was created by God for His purposes. Ultimately, we exist to bring glory to His name through worship, discipleship, and evangelism. He, being the Creator and great Physician of every human soul, established our organization to bring healing to the nations by spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have existed for over two millennia (for more info on our spectacular beginnings we refer you to the Bible, specifically Acts chapter 2), and our Founding Father has told us we are both indestructible (Matt. 16:18) and irreplaceable (Eph. 3:9-12, 22) by His design. For these reasons and more, we lay claim to be the original World Health Organization. We believe what we offer is the true hope of the world.
For the past year, one disease has dominated the headlines. However, we see another prevailing (and arguably more pervasive) sickness in the modern world, a phenomenon we call temporalysis. The onset of this disease is brought about when one forgets the transcendent and becomes preoccupied with the temporal. Worldly affairs dominate the affections, and the soul experiences a slow and almost imperceptible spiritual paralysis. Hence, temporalysis. Common symptoms are spiritual lethargy and constant distraction. Mild cases among the affluent are common and their accompanying signs (disinterest in prayer, scripture, and worship) are easily diagnosed. Fortunately, there is a simple regimen of treatment that can be obtained by attending one of our chapters. However, in some advanced, isolated cases, a spiritual glaucoma gives way to blindness and eventual death. Our President and CEO, Jesus, warned us this could happen (Matt. 13:15, 22).
Temporalysis is a malady that is far-advanced in the developed West. We have CDC branches all over the globe, but many of the leaders in our North American and European offices all report the same concern: the people are materially rich and spiritually impoverished. The body is fed and healthy, but the soul is starving and sick. The global pandemic, with its necessary and near-constant concern with all things physical has exacerbated this imbalance. In some cases, a pre-existing cancer of godless complacency has metastasized. Many souls are now conditioned and/or content to focus exclusively on material needs and bodily comfort.
We have seen temporalysis before, but it has seldom been as widespread. Previous generations (particularly those in the first millennia of our development) had far less material provision and protection, yet on the whole were more spiritually robust. They worked with their hands and gazed at the stars. Most held a clear and compelling vision of life as a cathedral of enchantment. Today’s man is overly medicated and mediated. He sees reality through a funhouse mirror and reduces the world to a comparatively low-ceilinged Costco.
This radical shift gives us grave concern. We have been around long enough to know that buying in bulk and building storehouses of pleasure will not sustain the health of any individual soul, let alone that of an entire civilization. We would do well to heed the following advice of one of our greatest doctors from the 19th century:
“Let me beseech you, my brethren, while you are not careless of the body, as, indeed, you ought not to be, seeing that it is, in the case of believers, the temple of the Holy Ghost, to take more special care of your souls. Decorate the tenement but suffer not the inhabitant to die of starvation; paint not the ship while you are letting the crew perish for want of stores on board. Look to your soul, as well as to your body; to the life, as well as to that by which you live. O that men would take account of the soul’s vast concerns and know their own standing before God. O that ye would examine yourselves. If men would do so, if all of you would now search within, how many of you would be bankrupt? You are making a pretty little fortune with regard to the body; you are doing tolerably well and comfortable; you are providing for yourselves things as you would desire them. Your mortal body, perhaps, is even pampered, and has no fault to find with its owner; but as to your poor soul, how is that getting on? I fear you will find it not a gainer, but in many instances, I fear, a loser. Let me solemnly tell you, that if your soul be a loser, however much your body may be a gainer, you have not profited in the least degree. Let me ask you all this question in the name of Jesus Christ, ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?'”
– Rev. “Doctor” Charles Spurgeon, 1856
Here at the CDC, we have always held that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. So, we walk by faith and not by sight. Let us look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (BTW, we are confident that when our founding members wrote about the “unseen,” they were not talking about invisible virus particles).
Therefore, it is at this moment that we desperately need to re-assert the primacy of the spiritual over the physical. Indeed, that has always been our calling. We desire to encourage our members as they seek to live in light of eternity. So, to that end, we offer the following categorized creed in response to the ways that Covid has re-choreographed our lives. We hope these truths will help to rehabilitate and re-calibrate our readers where necessary. Together we can work to renew faith, regain sight, and perhaps restore some “tinglings” to souls benumbed by temporalysis.
May God bless you, and may God bless the work of the Center for the Discipleship of Christians.
Signed this 4th of June, 2021
The Task Force for the Renewal of Universal Spiritual Thinking (T.R.U.S.T.)
B. A. Ware
Seymour B. Leaf
Morris “Mo” Blessings
The English word “mask” is derived from French masque or Italian maschera, two words with the standard, equivalent meaning, “a covering to hide or guard the face.” But the Medieval Latin version of the word masca not only means “mask,” but also “specter” or “nightmare.” In ancient Arabic, the word maskharah means “buffoon, mockery”, and this is why masks have been a common symbol of theater. It is what actors wear as they play the fool upon the stage.
Our journey with masks during the pandemic has been a slow retrogression to the origins of the word. The mask began as an important mitigating measure, then it became engulfed in political theater, and eventually morphed into a nightmare for communities. We are now conditioned to see those within a pre-determined radius of our breathing space as potential vectors of contagion or worse, as our political adversaries. A simple piece of cloth has damaged our perception of fellow image bearers.
The simple truth is that faces matter. The gospel itself is a message of seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)
God intends that we reflect the radiance of Christ. The church, therefore, is a community of light, a place where the face of Christ is seen in the faces of His followers.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
If we switch the first and last letters of the word “mask” we get “kasm,” which is the phonetic version of “chasm,” a gaping hollow or deep fissure. CDC’s members (a.k.a. “Christians”) understand that Jesus came to heal the chasm between us and God, and that he also holds the answer to the fissures among us:
“…For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph. 2:14-18)
The good news for Christians is that the work of the Holy Spirit is not hindered by a mask. All those who have seen the face of Christ in the gospel are now “unveiled.” They are able to approach God without fear of death.
We marvel at the impact this virus has had on our modern world and global economy. The most technologically and medically advanced civilization in the history of the world has been brought to its knees by a microscopic organism. We also marvel at how quickly modern science and medicine has responded to develop and distribute a vaccine. What would our lives and our culture be like if we all took the same drastic measures to confess and confront the one disease that is common to all humanity: sin? What if we were just as vigilant in safeguarding ourselves against that perennial pandemic? Purifying our hands and our homes is a start, but it is insufficient. There is only one spiritual vaccine: The cleansing blood of Jesus imputed to us through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit. The sickness that sin brings is universal and infects our whole being.
“There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.”
– Psalm 38:3
For those who are not inoculated against sin, it carries a 100% mortality rate. But there is a cure, and that is found at the cross. There is, in fact, a balm in Gilead that heals the sin-sick soul. The blood of Christ brings remedy in the form of redemption, and a healing that reaches far beyond the physical and temporal. This is the major theme in our CDC song collection (a.k.a. “hymnal”). Song after song records the grateful response of a resuscitated soul that now gives glory to the Great Physician. Here are some written prescriptions from past doctors of the faith.
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds, and drives away our fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast;
’tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary, rest.
– John Newton (1725-1807)
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings.
– Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
If we take all the letters that spell out C-O-R-O-N-A-V-I-R-U-S and reconfigure them, we get a slightly misspelled message that points us to a cure-all for the contagion we carry.
COVAR OUR SINS
No matter what happens to our physical bodies, we know that our sins are covered, and we will one day be resurrected, made new, our mortal flesh will put on immortality, and the song of praise will echo into eternity. Oh death, where is your sting?
After the Lord God formed the first man from dust, he breathed into his face the breath of life. Then He placed him in a garden with every pleasant and good thing he could ever need. But then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
After fallen man discovered a virus smaller than dust, he ceased to breathe freely for fear of death. He placed himself in quarantine with every pleasant and good thing he could ever need. But still the Lord God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18).
The pandemic has torn at the fabric of our relationships. It has isolated and alienated. Even when Covid subsides, many adverse social effects will remain. We will all need to rediscover and re-commit to community again. But for the CDC, this relational need goes beyond a mere social impulse or even the more noble desire to help the lonely and isolated. It is a reflection of who we truly are. In Christ we are united in an inseparable and organic way, one body with many members (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:27). This is true even if we feel distant from each other, for all have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13). In order to heal from the social distancing of this past year, we offer these three regulations (“regs”) from our governing documents:
“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25)
“…Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16)
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Col. 3:14-15)