Friday, April 18, 2014

Love each other as Christ loves us - not any less

I'd meant to take the recorder to Church this evening to record the sermon. Indeed, no more than two minutes before we left, I'd been holding it in my hand. And since I don't really do sermon notes, there is no other way of sharing what I might have had to say. Which may be unfortunate, given that my wife thinks this was a particularly meaningful effort.

I touched on three significant things Jesus said or did on this night, beginning with the saying which gives the night its name: Maundy, from the Latin Mandatum meaning Commandment. As in, "A new commandment - to love one another as I have loved you.

I've sometimes noted the conditional nature of one of the petitions in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." In other words, we ask God to forgive us to precisely the same degree we forgive others - not any less; not any more. Likewise Jesus admonishes us to love each other to precisely the degree he loves us, no less. He sets the bar high.

That love is given practical expression in the service he performs, washing the feet of his disciples. That love he calls us to have needs to have practical expression, mostly outside the walls of our Church buildings.

And finally he gives us a meal. The purpose of a meal is to nourish our bodies to do the work they need to do. The purpose of this meal is to nourish us spiritually so that we have the strength to act out our love in service as he commands and demonstrates.

And this led me to close by referring again to Frank Weston's stirring call to the Anglo-Catholic Congress in 1923:
Oh brethren! if only you listen to-night your movement is going to sweep England. If you listen. I am not talking economics, I do not understand them. I am not talking politics, I do not understand them. I am talking the Gospel, and I say to you this: If you are Christians then your Jesus is one and the same: Jesus on the Throne of his glory, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus received into your hearts in Communion, Jesus with you mystically as you pray, and Jesus enthroned in the hearts and bodies of his brothers and sisters up and down this country. And it is folly—it is madness—to suppose that you can worship Jesus in the Sacraments and Jesus on the Throne of glory, when you are sweating him in the souls and bodies of his children. It cannot be done. 
There then, as I conceive it, is your present duty; and I beg you, brethren, as you love the Lord Jesus, consider that it is at least possible that this is the new light that the Congress was to bring to us. You have got your Mass, you have got your Altar, you have begun to get your Tabernacle. Now go out into the highways and hedges where not even the Bishops will try to hinder you. Go out and look for Jesus in the ragged, in the naked, in the oppressed and sweated, in those who have lost hope, in those who are struggling to make good. Look for Jesus. And when you see him, gird yourselves with his towel and try to wash their feet.

And now the Sanctuary is bare, the organ stilled, the Tabernacle empty.

And we wait.

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