Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday Sermon

Lord Jesus Christ, our Servant and Savior, on earth you washed the feet of your Disciples & fed them at the Last Supper and now through your cross and resurrection you always live to make intercession for us & through the breaking of the bread are known to us: give us grace to be your faithful disciples and servants to our lives’ end; for your name’s sake. Amen. (adapted from Stephen Smalley)

Behold what you are. May we become what we receive.

These words used at the presentation of the Bread and Cup here at St. Peter’s; I first heard them used at the Monastery of SSJE. They come from St. Augustine who preached a sermon On the Eucharist (Sermon 57):
“You are the body of Christ,” he said. “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.”
Our brothers at SSJE tell us that “these words point to one of the deep truths of Christian faith: Through our participation in the sacraments (particularly baptism and Eucharist), we are transformed into the Body of Christ, given for the world.”

Behold what you are. May we become what we receive.

What do these words, this communion, this Maundy Thursday mean for us, as we become what receive. A few words from priest and author Barbara Crafton:
“On this night of Jesus' last supper with his friends, he instituted what we would come to call the Holy Eucharist and also washed the disciples' feet, as if he were not their master, but their servant. These things, he said, were dramatic examples of a new commandment, that we should love one another as he has loved us. Unstinting. Self-giving.

But isn't that an old commandment? Don't we already know something about it? You are up in the night again with a sick child -- not the sick child you were up with last night, but her sister. The family is passing the same germ from person to person, and you yourself feel heachache-y and a bit limp as you set up the vaporizer in her room and prop an extra pillow behind her, so she's all but sitting up. You sit down on the floor by the bed, rub some eucalyptus on her chest and a little on your own... She takes another drink of water and asks you to sing. It's three in the morning, but you rest your head on her mattress and quietly begin to sing. Just a few rounds is all it takes; your little one's cough quiets down and she is asleep. You pad back to bed and pull the covers up to your chin. You drift back to sleep, smelling the eucalyptus.

Love transforms service, teaching us that there's no such thing as a menial task. Love teaches us that, if nothing is beneath us, nothing will be beyond us. Love remains with us after our unstinting efforts have all failed -- it doesn't conquer all, as the old saying goes, but it bears all things without turning away from any of them.”
Behold what you are. May we become what we receive.

How is God transforming you into Christ’s Body and giving you to the world?

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