Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A sermon on John 6

Proper 15B, – John 6:51-58
Using As We Gather at Your Table (Carl P. Daw)

Listen to the first verse of 522 –
1 As we gather at your table, as we listen to your word, help us know, O God, your presence; let our hearts and minds be stirred. Nourish us with sacred story till we claim it as our own; teach us through this holy banquet how to make Love's vict'ry known.

As I was forming this message
I kept getting distracted. –you see, since we had VBS last week, and I had a funeral on Sunday – I didn’t get started early enough
Call this person about a baptism – she wasn’t in
And the mother I was trying to get last week finally got back to me
About a baptism
Which required me to schedule the baptismal meeting
Where I try to get families together and talk about what raising a child in the church is about.
So I must e-mail Christine and Carla and Joyce for calendars, and to reserve the room.
Which reminds me - create a new baptismal form.
And think about how the curriculum I’m using doesn’t work

Which made me think about the pre-marriage couple I was meeting, and that I had to get the video out and wonder at which building it would be better to meet with them.

And – oh, yes, - I’m trying to write a sermon about communion.
But it’s lunch time. And I have no money, but I can got to the ATM when I visit that lady who is in the hospital ICU. Let me look up Becky’s note from Friday to remind myself what she’s there for. And who she is related to.
On my way there I saw another e-mail about another issue and I needed to check . . . . . and maybe I should e-mail Tim even though it’s his day off. At it was only noon.

I’m not trying to impress you with all I have to do. What struck me was how much ‘community’ and ‘communion’ fit together. I’m busy doing that thing – making Love’ victory known. In fact, my funeral sermon last night, for a woman widowed last December, a mother and young grandmother – had the theme – LOVE Wins. Death does not win, Love wins.

2 Turn our worship into witness in the sacrament of life; send us forth to love and serve you, bringing peace where there is strife. Give us, Christ, your great compassion to forgive as you forgave; may we still behold your image in the world you died to save.

Here we learn about the connection between this meal we share in the church – and our going out to be Christ’s witnessing people.
Between communion and community.
Between being together in one place and becoming body together in spirit.
Between what we receive and what we learn we can give away.

All those things I talked about before, as well as the things you did today – at work, or as a volunteer, as a homeowner or however you spent your day – they are all elements of this ‘community’ that is made through communion.

We think of Luther as stressing the individual benefits of Holy Communion - forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, as the Small Catechism has it. But most of us do not realize that Luther had a fundamentally communal perspective on communion – one of my favorite quotes is this:

When you have partaken of this sacrament, therefore, or desire to partake of it, you must in turn share the misfortunes of the fellowship. . . Here your heart must go out in love and learn that this is a sacrament of love. As love and support are given you, you in turn must render love and support to Christ in his needy ones. You must feel with sorrow all the dishonor done to Christ in his holy Word, all the misery of Christendom, all the unjust suffering of the innocent, with which the world is everywhere filled to overflowing. You must fight, work, pray, and – if you cannot do more – have heartfelt sympathy. (M. Luther, The sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.)

3 Gracious Spirit, help us summon other guests to share that feast where triumphant Love will welcome those who had been last and least. There no more will envy blind us nor will pride our peace destroy, as we join with saints and angels to repeat the sounding joy.

The whole point of our being people of the bread – those who spend Six weeks –SIX weeks – hearing bible lessons on the body of Christ – is that this part of the story – this language – is supposed to form us, mold us, draw us in. It’s pretty dramatic language after all – eat my flesh, drink my blood. Thanks, Jesus.

But listen to Jesus – he is trying by another way to speak of the mystery of abiding in him as he abides in the Father. It is about being so close to Jesus that we are part of him as he is part of the Father. It is about being Jesus here and now.

And that brings us back to the idea that communion creates community. Worship leads to service. Dwelling in the word leads to transformation of ourselves and the world. All the distractions and individual moments of my day, and your day as well
– come together in Christ, by Christ’s blessing,
– as the work of Christ done by his hands, feet, mouth, his body.

During this busy day I visited the ICU. And there one sister was standing by the bed of another. One distressed by illness, one healthy and attentive.

Who was Christ? I was the professional praying person, but really, Christ was already in that room. Christ was present in the care-giver, Christ was present in the sick and the needy. They were already Christ for each other.

Communion creates community.

Let's sing 'Blest Be the Tie that Binds.

Gratitude - G

G. Green! I dream of sleeping in a green shaded tree house. Having a sage green meditation space. Don't wear much green, but I would say, right now, that's its my favorite color to have around me.

G. Gelato. Chocolate Gelato.

That's it for now folks.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gratitude - F

Well, I am grateful for Fridays. Of course, this week I worked hard on Friday - it was Vacation Bible School week and I was creating the worship service bulletin and PowerPoint. And teaching. And being on kitchen crew. It was a good week, great energy. I only wish we could have that energy and commitment emerge at other times of the year.

Friends, of course. Really good friends include my little sis, and ministry partner, and the Eagle.

Fudge. That's my food choice for the day. Something chocolate.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gratitude E


E. EEK! - what E things am I grateful for?

Engelberg. This is a tune name for a great big rolling cathedral tune that, along with the words, "We Know that Christ is Raised" kept me going during a dark time, waiting for the adoption.

We Know That Christ Is Raised

1 We know that Christ is raised and dies no more.
Embraced by death, he broke its fearful hold,
and our despair he turned to blazing joy.

2 We share by water in his saving death.
Reborn, we share with him an Easter life,
as living members of our Savior Christ.

3 The Father's splendor clothes the Son with life.
The Spirit's fission shakes the church of God.
Baptized, we live with God the Three in One.

4 A new creation comes to life and grows
as Christ's new body takes on flesh and blood.
The universe restored and whole will sing:

Text: John B. Geyer, b. 1932
Text © John B. Geyer

Duplication in any form prohibited without permission or valid license from copyright administrator.
Right now I can't find a good video of the music, which is what I am really grateful for.

Also, Eggs.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Gratitude - D - a day late


D. Dreams - both the 'I wish I could do that' kind. I wish we could live in the country, I wish I could retire early, I wish we could travel all over the world - which may or may not come true, but also Dreams of the real sleep variety. My dreams have been interesting lately - not troubling, but full of detail, and rather fun.

D, Dioctore who can see you on short notice. I'm grateful for my eye doctor practice seeing me within the day for my vague -"I have something in my eye" complaint (which may be a herpes lesion, but may not be). They are good that way. So patitent with my peculiar visual problems> I feel well taken care of.

D, Doors. It's good to just shut out the rest of the world. So glad I don't work in the middle of many other people. I remember when I was doign all those vocational interests tests and one thing that came up was that I needed my own space and my own privacy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gratitude - C

Gratitude for C things must start with that most noble and condescending of beasts, the Cat. I grew up around cats, usually multiples at once. I've know Snowball and Orbit, Sancho, Minnie and Imper. I have met , but not lived with the strange and half-wild Agatha, and of course, Ceasar the boneless wonder. Now we provide a home for his majesty the Terror of Bunnies.

I read that cats are not domesticated like dogs, they are still only one step away from their tree-dwelling wild ancestors. Getting along with people is not born into them, but part of 'cat-culture' - a mother cat inculcates the tolerance or favoring of people. Their presence with us is for their own benefit.

There is nothing as comforting as lying in a hammock with a purring, resting cat on one's lap.

Other C things include cotton - a delight in the summer, the stuff of loose clothing and contacts - my constant companions and frustration. Without the contacts my vision is poor, and - I will confess to my vanity- my appearance rather like a owl with thick glasses. Still the contacts, and the great doctor who guides my use, gets me to normal vision and sunglasses.

That's it for C.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Gratitude - B

Humm - the first things that come to mind are foods I don't allow myself much anymore. Bacon. Butter. both of those are really, really good, but not good for me. However, you will find them in the refridgerator.

Bread. Good, hearty, crusty bread. Warm, fresh bread. The smell of baking bread.

Boys. I mean the little ones. There is a period, somewhere between ages 4 and 7, when boys are just delightful. They are curious and sturdy and still generous and open. These were our son's best years.

Yes, this is confessional. Bono. I just started replaying his music. It's good car music. It speaks to me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

lots of bread

I'm using snippets from the same sermon for two Sundays this month. That's one of the advantages to preaching in a different place week to week.

Although - (looks over her shoulder) - I don't usually do that - I write new sermons every week!

I'm thinking about Jesus as 'bread of life' and as sign. A sign points to something - Jesus is both sign to God the Great, but also emblem in himself of sacrifice and model.

What sign are we willing to believe? What does it mean to believe in the One God sent? How does our common communion here – make us a community of believers?

Part of the problem about believing the signs of God – believing in the One God sent – part of the problem is the one who believes. That is what this story reminds us. It’s not just about those foolish folk way back then. It’s about us. It’s about all those who mis-see, mis-hear, mis-read the wonders of God all around them.

It’s about all those who try to bargain with God – if You do this, then I’ll . . . . That’s about the opposite of trust- that’s when our relationship with God becomes an exchange. What can you do for me, God – what bread will you offer for my devotion?

But what Jesus speaks about is something totally different, totally not exchangeable – he offers what no one can buy – Himself. “I am the bread of life” he says, I am the food that endures, I am what satisfies, I am true bread from heaven, I am the sign.” He is the sign because he does it for us – he embodies for us the life that satisfies.

And the sign is pure grace – it is pure gift – it’s not because of any works we have done – it’s not because of our efforts, or our piety or our family or our prayers this day. It’s because God loves us.

It’s the work of God, through Jesus, through the Son’s passing through the Cross to the resurrection, that allows us to stand here and say YES, wash us in the living water, YES, give us the bread always. It’s not our work –
but the power of God in each other,
in the community of the church, the family, the friend, the pastor, the Word,
That is the way of Grace, the way we say sincerely say YES, give us this bread always.

Gratitude - A

The daily gratitude post - the challenge is to post daily on each letter of the alphabet.

A. My maiden/now middle name starts with A. I was often first in line! I am grateful for the strong parts of the family, and for having worked through the painful parts.

A. Good, crisp apples. Especially Honey Crisps in the fall. Apple pie made at home, not so sweet.

A. Believe it or not - ANGER - it has been a 'issue' and a companion, but pointed to some deep healing that I needed. And even now, it is a signal that something needs attention.

A. Alternative Reality - the place for fantasies, novel reading, day-dreams, good science fiction on tv and speculative cosmological theologies. Some part of me walks there every day, I think.