Thursday, March 29, 2018

Year B Maundy Thursday 2018 Behold Become

Year B Maundy Thursday, 29 March 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“Behold. Become.”  

Collect: Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.  

John 13:1-17, 31b-35 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."  After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.  "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." 

“...mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos ut et vos diligatis invicem…” (Latin for John 14:34) What day is this? Thursday, the Maundy one. Our name for this day comes from the illiterate nature, to Latin anyway, of our English forebears.  The Maundy one, from Mandatum Novum, “a NEW COMMANDMENT I give unto you, that you should love one another.” A Mandate New I Give To You. The mass began differently this night. So simple, so peculiar what we do here this night.   

Eminent professor of world mythology Joseph Campbell broke it down in a bite-sized chunk so we could understand.  
“A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And, by participating in the ritual, you are participating in the myth. And since myth is a projection of the deep wisdom of the psyche, by participating in a ritual, participating in the myth, you are being, as it were, put in accord with that wisdom, which is the wisdom that is inherent within you anyhow. Your consciousness is being re-minded of the wisdom of your own life. I think ritual is terribly important.”  
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth 

Too often I have to come back and erase the understanding that myths are lies. Far from that, they are the deep stories of tribe and culture, and in this instance, it is that which ties us to Christ, and the great cloud of witnesses that have come before us. (I spoke on this at Wednesday morning yesterday in the sermon Consider Him.) 

And that is where we are tonight, remembering that night where we were given the most simple of commands, Love One Another, and Do This To Remember Me. The mystical understanding is beyond me, but I agree with Queen Elizabeth, the first one, about the Eucharist:  
‘Twas God the Word that spake it, He took the Bread and brake it: And what that Word did make it, That I believe and take it. 
Need it be more than that? If you believe the elements become Christ, welcome. If you believe Christ is in it, welcome. If you believe it a symbol, welcome. As Anglicans we celebrate the Real Presence of Christ in our Eucharist, what that means, we will leave it up to you. That is the genius of our “Middle Way.” We have a very broad rail at which we all may kneel. 

For me, though, it is more than bread and more than wine, it would have to be. And like the old joke says, when we have wafers instead of bread for the Eucharist it is easier to believe that it is Jesus than to believe that it is bread.   

However you come, I trust that when you do, you draw closer to Christ, and closer to one another. It was in serving the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper as I called it then, that I converted myself to Anglicanism, thanks be to God. It became more and more important to me to see Christ in each and every person who came to receive, and to be Christ as best I could to the same. (Wouldn’t it be a better world if we all did what we did in that light?) In my last Baptist pastorate, we took Communion every week, a rarity in the Baptist Church. We also followed the Lectionary, no surprise I landed where I did. 

I remember the first church we visited in the Episcopal Church on our way out from Baptist life. No one had given us any instruction. No one had prepared us. As a family we went forward to receive. Now my very young daughters knew what Communion was. They had received and intincted (dipped) into the cup many times before. They were familiar with all of that. However, to their dad’s chagrin, they were used to Welch’s not Tawny Port, a distinctly different taste. My youngest, after carefully dipping her bread, took one taste, and spit it right out. A retired priest was celebrating, and I think my angels were with me because my reflexes have never been so fast as I snatched it mid-air before it hit the ground. And even in that most embarrassing of moments, Christ was present. Christ always is. 

Bidden or unbidden, Christ is present. And as we are intentional, the reality of his presence echoes in all we do, especially here. 

The Apostle Paul in I Corinthians stated, “Now you are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it.” (12:27)  

And in the same way in tonight’s reading he said,  
“I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” 
Both are true. The Bread is Christ’s Body. We are Christ’s Body, as well.   

One of the most powerful statements on Christ’s table comes from St. Augustine. And this may help explain it a bit better. In his sermon, On the Eucharist (Sermon 57), he shares: “You are the body of Christ. In you and through you the work of the Incarnation must go forward. You are to be taken; you are to be blessed, broken, and given; that you may be the means of grace and the vehicles of the Eternal love. Behold what you are. Become what you receive.
We have the words, “You are what you eat.” And coming to Christ’s table, it could not be more true. Like grains that have been harvested, plucked, ground, mixed, and baked, you are the Bread. Like the juice of so many grapes, you have been plucked, stomped, fermented, and aged to perfection in the Master’s vineyard. We are what we eat. We are what we drink.  

Behold what you are. Become what you receive.” That is the Real Presence. We find ourselves in this, as we find Christ. Psychologist Carl Jung said “Who looks outward dreams, who looks inward awakens.” Look inside tonight as we look to Christ, as we Re-Member with him. Look inside and see who it is who is looking back. 

Behold what you are. Become what you receive. 

The other day, I followed some clickbait on the internet, about the last words of a celebrity I adore. I took the time to finally get to those final words, and they meant nothing to me and changed me in no way. And yet, here we are. Pondering some of Christ’s final words to those who knew him best. Think on when Christ did this. On the night when he was betrayed, he took the time to connect us with him for eternity, and with one another temporally, and I believe, forever as well. Thanks be to God. In full light of that, 




No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! Thanks for wanting to comment. Please add it here, and after a moderator reviews it, it will be posted if appropriate. Look forward to hearing your opinion.
Blessings, Rock