Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Take, Bless, Break, Give
Propers for Wednesday in Easter Week: Acts 3:1-10 and Luke 24:13-35
Audio of this sermon can be found here.
What is it about Communion that unites us with Jesus--that makes it a literal communion with him? What is it about the breaking of the bread that opens the eyes of Cleopas and the other disciple, enabling them to recognize the one who walked with them on the road? What is it about the act of making one's Holy Communion that reveals Jesus to us in a way that reading the bible and talking about the faith cannot?
In college, when I was studying for a big test, I would go into an empty lecture hall and write out on the huge chalk boards all the notes I could fit on them. Then, I would sit in a desk and look up at the board and read them aloud to myself. Then, I would walk back up to the board, erase everything, and then start over with the next set of notes I needed to learn. I didn't really know why I did it. It was just how I learned the best. I needed to do something--to move my hand and move my lips--before the information could move from words on a page to ideas in my brain. I suppose I'm a part-kinesthetic, part-oral, part-aural, part-visual learner. But aren't we all?
Jesus is inviting us to know him--not just to know about him but to really know him. We are to consume him. We are to digest him. We are to take him into our selves so that he becomes a part of us. And how are we to do that?
Celebrating the Lord's Supper is an act of sights and sounds and actions. In our tradition, we do not merely sit in our pews and listen to the gospel as espoused in a 35-minute sermon. We hear the good news, and we see it enacted for us, and we speak our part in it, and we move to receive it, and we touch and taste it and even smell it. At table in Emmaus with the two disciples, Jesus took bread--something we see--and blessed it--something we hear--and broke it--something again we see--and gave it--something we feel. In this four-fold action, we are made to remember Jesus' presence with us. The word "remember" is similar in form to "dismember," and you can see the connection (no pun intended but still celebrated). We "make whole again" the saving act of Jesus in Holy Communion. Thus, Holy Communion is not only a response to the gospel. It is the gospel itself. It is the good news of Jesus Christ transmitted to us in sight and sound and spoken word and physical motion. In it Jesus meets us in a real, more-than-metaphorical, more-than-symbolic way.
We are physical beings--not just shells for a soul or mind. We need physical nourishment and spiritual nourishment, and those things are not separate because there is no separation between soul/mind and body. We are faithful in our ears and eyes and brains. We are faithful in our hearts and minds and spirits. Holy Communion unites us with Jesus because fills all of us--our whole beings.