John 15: 1-17
Last Sunday, twelve of us gathered in the Memorial Chapel for worship. We gathered in a circle around the communion table. We sang, prayed, reflected together and shared communion. As we prepared the communion table I said that Jesus knew that those who followed him would have a hard time once he was physically gone from them. I said that Jesus knew that they would need a way to be reminded of him and to take time to be strengthened by his presence and for that reason, he gave them (gave us) the Sacrament of Communion. Communion – coming together in union with each other and God. Communion — being fed by the power and presence of Christ. Broken bread – Body of Christ. Cup poured – Blood of Christ.
I have been thinking about what I said. And while I do believe that there is truth in it — we do need to be reminded of Jesus and to take time to be strengthened by his presence – I don’t think what I said is the whole truth.
Communion is not some kind of rest stop that we pull into periodically as we journey. The table is not a kind of filling station where we pull up along side and are refueled so to speak for the miles we have yet to travel.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that we are to abide in his presence as he abides in the presence of God. Our lives are to be ones of Holy indwelling where the deeper reality of every moment holds communion and the door way into this communion is love. Yes, we are to gather at the table and remember Jesus, but this remembrance is not a summoning of divine presence but instead the visible sign of a ever present reality.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
If we can truly accept the indwelling of the Holy in the incarnation of all creation, if we can truly wrap our minds around what that means, then we cannot help but see that every body broken is the Body of Christ, every life poured out – the Blood of Christ.
Friends, we worship a God who knows what it is to suffer the violence of humanity. In this time of so much suffering, in this time of so much violence, can we stand up and be witness to the indwelling of divine presence that brings value and meaning to every life? Can we open the doorways of love that lead into this abiding reality? Can we, like Jesus, offer our very lives as visible signs of the redemptive power of love through which salvation from this madness lies? Can there come the day when Joy will be made complete? For this I pray. May it be so.