Aloha Friday Message – June 20, 2014 – Faith and Mystery

1425AFC062014 – Faith and Mystery

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Deuteronomy 8:3He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by anything that the Lord decrees.

John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

1 Corinthians 10:16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?

1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.

 

Institution of the Eucharist

Matthew 26:26-28 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 14:22-24 And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Luke 22:19-20And He took bread, and gave thanks and broke it and gave it unto them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.” Likewise also He took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you.”

 

Happy Aloha Friday everyone, and Happy Summer, too! The 2014 Solar Solstice is tomorrow, June 21. Today’s message started off with John 15:10. The “assignment” was to connect that to the institution of what Christians commonly call Communion. Our Lord has commanded us, in the form of an imperative declaration (explanation coming), to become one with the sacrifice he was making on our behalf. He said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53 So, if we do want to have life within us, we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. This is difficult for some among us today even as it was difficult for some who heard Jesus make this statement. I don’t think that today I will be able to present every viewpoint – there are many more than one can imagine – but I would like to talk a bit about why we have Communion and not so much about what it is. So, with that in mind let’s begin in Deuteronomy.

Moses is reminding Israel that God provided for them in the desert as they wandered and were preparing to cross over the Jordan River to enter the Land of Milk and Honey promised to Abraham. God provided bread (manna), meat (quail), water, shelter, rest, and protection. Every word God spoke helped sustain them. God spoke, and sustenance was given. The sustenance they received nourished their bodies and allowed them to carry on in their quest for the Promised Land. Everything God said or did was invigorating – giving them strength, energy, and refreshment thus revitalizing their unity. What God gave became part of them, part of their flesh and bone and blood. Even his words – the Law – and his promises (some claim there are 30,000 promises in the Bible!) were sustenance for the heart and mind of the Nation. Hence, everything that God spoke into being was life-giving. Think about that for a few seconds <<PAUSE>> Everything God says is life-sustaining. It’s not just the bread he gives; it is the bread and everything it takes to make the bread part of us.

At this point, I’m going to insert a long and very familiar passage from the Gospel of John. Please patiently read it.

John 6:47-60 “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.  When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” As the body must assimilate food to live, so the soul must assimilate who lives because the Father lives.

Well, there are certainly several promises there, and also several very clear declarations that belief in and sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ is imperative if one seeks the eternal and everlasting life promised. In my heart and mind the conditions imposed in these promises are commandments, imperatives, and the eternal life promised is contingent on compliance with those commands for, 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.” That is what I meant by “an imperative declaration.” What Christ has declared is an imperative and therefore contained in “… anything that the Lord decrees.” We are “ordered” to participate in the sharing of the Body and Blood of Christ; we ought to do so consciously and fully-engaged in the majesty and mystery of this sacrament. But it must be more than just consuming some bread and fruit of the vine. Here is the reason for that:

Day after day we eat and drink to nourish our bodies. What we eat becomes part of us. The food each individual eats is united with that person’s body. With the Eucharist it is the other way around. We become what we eat. Now, I know someone out there just had that old saying “You are what you eat” pop into your head; junk in – junk out, good in – good out. In Communion, we consume the Body and Blood of Christ and we are united to Body and Blood as we become – truly indeed – The Body of Christ, his Church. Everything that is less-than-divine is joined with Every Thing that is Divine: John 14:19-21Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

That is communion. We do not become God, or part of God; we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us and in our Father. We share this with, in, and for The Body of Christ. We share it with, in, and for the Love of God in Christ Jesus by the ministry of the Holy Spirit because “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?

As it was surely difficult for the first disciples to grasp this mystery, it is certainly equally difficult today. Difficult, that is, if you choose to believe it. Sadly many, many people – non-Christians and even many Christians – do not believe it. There is every possible proof that it is true – God sent Salvation into the world as his only begotten Son and our mandate is to share that assurance with each other in Communion; but, when we cannot, or do not, obey that imperative, we make God out to be a liar. We have Jesus’ testimony about us being in him, and he being in God. What other Witness do we need?

1 John 5:7-12 So we have these three witnesses– the Spirit, the water, and the blood – and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son.  All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

Please, please, please: Remember why Jesus’ commands at The Last Supper are important. Remember that – every time you receive it – as he told you to do. Be engaged, not blasé. Be aware, not oblivious. Become the Body of Christ through faith in this Mystery. Beloved, love one another, but love God most. Pray for everyone always in, as, and for The Body of Christ.

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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