It is a privilege for us to be here this evening.
An opportunity. A time of blessing. A time of return.
A time to encounter, to experience, Jesus Christ as he has revealed himself to the world.
A time to walk in his ways.
Attendance at tonight’s event is by invitation only.
We are invited by Jesus himself. He longs to eat this meal with us before he suffers.
And I am grateful for having received the summons….
…of assessing its importance before throwing it out with the rest of the junk mail.
I opened it, I read it.
I thought about it, pondered its meaning for my life
…and decided for it.
Any time Jesus gathers God’s people together…it is glorious; it is wonderful.
We can expect to be taught by the Master himself.
We can expect that Jesus will provide us with some help for our salvation.
We can expect that he will direct our minds and hearts to that which brings everlasting life.
We can expect that he will tell us the truth about God and about ourselves:
+ that God is infinite and we are limited;
+ that God has established an order, given everything a purpose, and that we are to discover and then respect what He has created, both in the inner world and in the outer world…..
+that God is unchanging and that we are required to change as new is added and old is discarded.
+ We can expect Jesus to tell us on this Holy Thursday night “I am going to die!” And then he says to us “you are going to die…all of you; no exceptions”. And he will ask us “are you ready to die?” And lest we become overwhelmed with despair for we know it is true and death scares us, Jesus will declare a promise: “if you die in me you will live in me.”
We are here because we want to die in Christ. We are motivated by this desire.
Only something that is alive can experience death.
Death brings an end to life.
Death is natural. It is part of God’s created order. Adam and Eve would not have lived forever.
Because of sin, however, when they died they did so in darkness, in unknowing.
Because of sin all of humanity does the same. And that’s what frightens us.
Before we can die in Jesus Christ, we have to be alive in him.
To live in Christ is to be rooted in him. He is the vine. We are the branches.
What sustains must come from him and through him.
The alternative is to remain rooted in the world into which we are born.
Our new life in Christ begins at our Baptism.
We have been baptized…but are we living in Christ?
If Jesus has influence over us, we live in him.
If the world has more influence over us, then we are living in the world.
If we are satisfied by what the world offers, that’s where we are living.
If we are satisfied by what Jesus provides, then we are living in him.
We desire enjoyment….all of us. It’s part of our created nature.
The world entices us, tempts us to believe that enjoyment is to be found in sin.
The snake in the Garden of Eden says to our first parents:
“you will enjoy having the knowledge God has.
You will enjoy having the power God has.”
The world’s enjoyment is all but temporary. It doesn’t last.
God, on the other hand, promises eternal enjoyment.
But then how many of us enjoy following God’s commands?
How many of us enjoy doing God’s will?
How many of us enjoy the boundaries God establishes so that we stay safe and protected?
We live in Christ when we make a conscious decision
to find our enjoyment in God and in His ways.
Living in Christ, being in Christ, is not like being in a building.
Right now we are in this church, this building.
It’s not “location” that makes us Christian.
It is “substance” that makes us Christian.
Being in Christ is being part of the building itself
and not just surrounded by it.
We are church. We are sacredness and holiness. We are temple and tabernacle.
However, living in Christ is not a matter of our carrying Christ with us where ever we go.
To think this is presumptuous.
We are Christian because we live in Christ, not because he lives is us.
Who is in who here?
We don’t carry Christ…he carries us.
To think that we carry him is to diminish his greatness.
Something finite, us, cannot contain something infinite, Jesus. It’s impossible.
Something imperfect cannot protect something that is perfect.
He doesn’t need us. We’re not that important. But he loves us anyway.
We need his love for our salvation. He is that important to us.
I believe it is more accurate to say…because we are in him, everywhere we go, he goes.
But even this falls short of capturing the truth.
Jesus is infinite. He is already everywhere. Where ever we go he is already there.
Of interest to us are the issues of recognition, awareness,
of acknowledgment and celebration.
Of interest to us is to be concerned with cooperation, not distribution.
We aren’t trucks that leave the factory every Sunday to make deliveries
and then return to the factory in a week to restock.
And we don’t get awarded “employee of the month”
because we work harder than everyone else.
We are not the light of Christ.
(I bet you never thought you would hear a priest say this.)
We are like the moon which has no light of its own.
Where ever we go, we stand in the light of Christ, we stand in a light that is already there.
We reflect this light so it can be seen, so darkness is dispelled.
This is Don Enzweiler standing up here before you.
And no matter how much I may live in Jesus Christ, I will always remain Don Enzweiler.
But I don’t want you to see me. You’re not here to see the moon.
I want you to see beyond me. I want you to see what I’m looking at…the Son.
It is the light of Christ shining on me that makes me Christ like.
I want to reflect to you the Christ that is here.
The light you see is not coming from me. It’s Christ’s reflection.
If you don’t see Christ reflected to you by what I say and do, by who I am,
then I am not in Christ.
July 20, 1969…do you remember where you were?
On that day Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon.
Do you know what the astronauts discovered?
There’s no fire on the moon.
There is nothing burning up there. There’s no source of light on the moon.
Though it is hot in the sun; cold in the shadows.
People talk about being on fire with the Lord, being on fire with the Spirit.
I don’t believe these are direct experiences of a divine fire that is now within them…
just like there is no fire on the moon….though it may feel to them like there is.
They feel the heat because they are standing close to the fire.
And the closer they are to it, the more intense the experience becomes.
If and when we move away from Jesus Christ,
we don’t carry his fire like a torch.
We have nothing to keep the fire going….again, just like the moon.
The sun, even a piece of it, never becomes the moon.
If and when we move away from the Son Jesus Christ, we wind up in darkness.
Jesus Christ is the sun, he is the fire that lights up the world.
And the only way his fire becomes part of us is by our standing in his light,
by exposing every component, every facet of our being to that light,
leaving nothing hidden in the darkness.
To the degree that we keep parts of ourselves hidden from the light,
our capacity to reflect the light to others is diminished….no matter how brightly the sun shines.
Sometimes we get confused by language. Words have so many meanings these days.
We can have the fire of love in our heart. We can have the fire of faith in our spirit.
And we should kindle such fires, keep them going.
This ideally is our response, our choice, as we stand in the light that is Jesus.
But human love and human faith are not the light nor the fire of Christ.
They are the fires of our passion, our desire, our hope.
These are human fires. Human creations.
And we must be cautious, careful not to fall into error…..
…careful of not confusing what is of human origin with what is of divine origin.
The fires of human making become destructive because the get out of control.
The fires divine in their origin are always life-giving.
They are purifying…separating out and ridding us of corruption and sin.
We can control, and as a matter of fact, we are instructed, to restrain our human passions.
Keep them in check. Keep them from becoming our masters.
Even those that get stirred to life, get stoked, by our experience of Jesus.
I know of people who believed they were set on fire by the Spirit…and maybe they were.
But it destroyed their family, their human relationships.
In ignorance, stubbornness and self-righteousness, they created enemies
because they were always right and everyone else was always wrong.
Herein lies the danger….self-importance.
…To come to the conclusion that because “I stand in the light of Christ,
and because my heart and spirit are on fire….
I am important…
and people need to listen to what I say….
and I know things about God and Jesus that others don’t know….
I know what God wants…I know the truth.
And with it I have the power to change the world.
And if you don’t listen to me you have rejected God.”
This isn’t the fire of Jesus Christ. It isn’t caused by the light of Jesus Christ.
This is an out of control wildfire…put into motion by inflated human ego.
And this turns the world, over and over again, against Christianity.
The fires of our love and our passion are not the fire that is Jesus Christ.
…no matter how good they feel. Human love and passion never become divine
Remember, the moon does not have the fire of the sun.
At best, human love and passion can only reflect certain facets of what is divine.
That’s all we can do. That’s all we’re asked to do. That gives us plenty to do.
Welcome to the mystery.
As we come to the Lord’s Supper,
as we gather to share the words, the example, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ,
we celebrate that we have been welcomed and received into his body.
We dwell in Christ….not the other way around.
To die for Christ is to die to dwelling in the world,
to die to the desire to live and hide in darkness,
so that we can more fully live in Christ.
This is what makes us Christ-like.
As Jesus distributes his body and blood he is saying
“by consuming this, you are a part of me, a part of my church,
a part of my Body.
I give this to you because you need it.”
The Eucharist is not a human custom.
It is a divinely ordained perpetual ritual
to be celebrated…..
as the sign of the New Covenant between God and His people
and as a source of salvation.
Amen! I believe it is so.
By receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ
and responding “Amen”, we are professing the belief
that we now share in the new life Jesus brings to the world.
“Remember me” he says.
“Remember what I give to you. Remember my example of humble service.
Remember my love for you.
Remember my sacrifice.
Remember my commission to bring light to the darkness.”
Jesus knows all too well the human tendency to forget.
And there is nothing worse than forgetting,
that without Jesus’ help…
without his light, without the acceptance of his love,
we will not prevail over death.
For we cannot do so on our own.
In a short while, Jesus will suffer agony in the garden. His heart will nearly break with sorrow. May this Eucharist give us strength to endure such sorrow.
It is a privilege for us to be here this evening.