“Missed it by that much”

I’m back from a break (stressed out & vacation).
Here’s is my sermon offering for you. Of course, remember this is an oral event not a dissertation.

As the famous Maxwell Smart would say, “I missed it by this much.” As most of you are probably aware, my family and I were on vacation and we spent several days in Washington DC touring the monuments and museums. While at the Smithsonian I had hoped to see a few things—the original Kermit the Frog, Dorothy’s Ruby shoes, Archie Bunker’s chair, Amelia Erhardt’s plane and Julia Child’s kitchen. Well, I missed Julia’s kitchen by one week. You see it was off exhibit, closed for renovations and re-opened this past Wednesday the 15th, in honor of what would have been this famous TV personality and chef’s 100th birthday. To honor Julia Childs, one of the radio programs on our Public Radio channel 89.7 WUWM aired a remembrance which included someone mentioning the time that Chef Child cooked tongue.
Well, I didn’t really watch Julia that much, and I never tried her recipes, and this may make some of you cringe, but I did eat tongue as a child, and in the car with my two boys hearing that on the radio brought back a flood of memories.
Meals and food have a way of doing that, of impacting our emotions and memories. Food isn’t just a way for our bodies to get energy as in calories and nutrients. If you were fortunate to be here last week and listening to Pastor Phetsamone’s sermon about food and communion, you heard about the wonderful power of this meal to evoke warm feelings of being loved of being truly home.
And if you were paying any attention today, as I read John’s words of Jesus, you can probably guess that’s not what’s happening in our Gospel for today. Not in the least, well, that’s unless you are some kind of zombie or cannibal monster, because Jesus isn’t talking about nice or dainty dining. No he’s talking about chewing on his flesh, his body, his blood.
Now if you just went “Yuck, that’s gross” in your head. You’re not the only one. In fact, the early early church, the first followers of Jesus were sometimes accused of cannibalism, because as they sat down together on the first day of the week, the first day after the Sabbath, to worship, to sing songs, to pray, and to have their meal together, in the midst of all that they said—Jesus said this is my body, this is my blood –take eat, drink, given and shed for you.
It is no surprise that many of our sisters and brothers in the faith take what Jesus says to us, take what we’ve been doing as a church week after week for thousands of years and say well it’s not really body, it’s not really blood—we’re really remembering what Jesus did for us. Kind of like you know a birthday celebration.
Well, if you’ve ever wondered what’s really at the heart of us being Lutheran, it isn’t the color of our skin or our hymnal, it’s not the songs we sing, or the dishes we serve at a potluck—it isn’t being German or Nowegian at all. No it’s our belief, it’s our holding on to, this mystery (because we also can’t exactly explain) how Jesus is really right here with us now, as he said he would be, giving us life, forgiveness, grace—all the stuff we need right now.
Jesus says to us, you know life—I mean true life, the one of discipleship of following me—a life of gratitude, of thanksgiving, of forgiving, of radically welcoming the least, the lost, the lonely, of admitting our fallenness, our sin, of forgiving ourselves and others—that eternal life stuff in the here and now, that’s tough (real tough) it’s as we say damn near impossible, so I’m giving you my all, my life, my body, my blood –giving it to you each time you gather together. That’s what makes it special, not the frequency or infrequency—because Lord knows and as good Lutherans we know we’re not good—that is, well, because more often do miss it by that much, we miss the mark, we sin; we are part of sinful world and systems that can be out of our control. We are broken so badly we can’t always fix ourselves; we can’t just pick ourselves up—communion isn’t something we earn or deserve. It’s something we need. So we need this, we desperately and definitely need this. Holy Communion is Jesus saying over and over again—taste and see the goodness of the Lord, hold onto, take into yourself consume this love, forgiveness. Jesus offers us again and again, and today is no different his love and life for us–his body and blood –his life for us, given for you. Amen.

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