Evening Prayer: April 8th

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Psalms: 107:1-32
Gospel: <a href="John 6:52-59
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from an Easter letter of St. Athanasius

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 (John 6:53-54)

This is the third straight day we have had readings about Jesus as the Bread of Life. I want to draw your attention to a nuance in the Greek that makes tonight’s passage especially striking.

The word translated as “eat” in this passage, is actually a much more specific verb in the Greek. In its proper context, the sentence reads more like this.

“Very truly, I tell you, unless you munch the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who munch on my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day….”

In fact, it was this text that caused so much confusion in the ancient world. Romans thought that Christians were cannibals! 😛

While Christian theology has many different understandings of what it means to eat the flesh and drink the blood of our Lord…this mystery has been worked out most thoroughly and intentionally in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

I could never hope to cover Eucharistic theology in one blog post; entire volumes have been written on the subject! But the very fact that Jesus uses such an intense verb to describe Eternal life I think leads us to a few interesting conclusions.

One is that living the faith is an *earthy* and lived experience. It is something that requires we get our hands dirty…..and to quite literally take a bite out of life.

Related to this idea is that our Christian heritage is an Incarnational heritage. At the heart of the Church’s salvific identity, there is a fundamental conviction that God and earth are united. One cannot be separated from the other…and that we experience God in the everyday things of life.

As Anglicans, we have held on to this sacramental understanding. In which the bread and wine are an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible Grace.

We come to the Lord’s table in the assurance and hope that even though the bread and the wine seem completely ordinary (and even tasteless if you use styrofoam wafers)…they are actually something completely transcendant. The Bread is the Flesh of Christ…… to make our flesh clean…..to remind us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, the Wine is the Blood of Christ…..to cleanse our souls…and to remind us that any inner turmoil we are experiencing will be calmed by the still, small voice of the Spirit.

As we go to receive the Sacrament Sunday by Sunday….God is making a statement. God declares that we are a forgiven people…..a new creation….beloved children. ❤

In response, we unite our voices in prayer and praise for the way in which God has saved all of Creation through his Son…..May we always feed on Him in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving. +

Evening Prayer: April 5th

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Psalms: 94
Gospel: John 6:16-27
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by St. Leo the Great

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal (John 6:27)

Sometimes music and images from Youtube can say it so much better than I can :)….Enjoy!

Evening Prayer: March 18th

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Psalm: 51
Gospel: John 3:22-36
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from the Mirror of Love by St. Aelred the Abbot

Icon of Christ the Bridegroom

 

He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:29-30)

It seems as though in the early Christian movement, there was a significant amount of confusion and debate around John the Baptist and his importance. All four Gospels proclaim him to be an important and integral part of the Jesus story…..both in terms of preaching repentance and in baptizing our Lord.

There were many who were convinced that John was the Messiah…..and that his call to turn away from Sin came from a special knowledge of God, and what he was going to do in Roman occupied Judea. However it is here in the fourth Gospel we get a definitive answer that John is not the guy we should be paying attention to. It should be that guy from Nazareth….baptizing across the Jordan and working his way towards Jerusalem.

I sit here tonight wondering what it means for us in terms of increase and decrease. I wonder if it is at all possible to follow John’s example. If it is possible to let our ego, our ideas, our biases…decrease so that Jesus might be able to point us in a different direction.

In an age with so much rampant individualism and secularism, I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that we are the bridegrooms……that we are the important ones who must be heard.

One of the challenges over Lent–I think–is to wander to the other side of the fence..to see who this Jesus character is…and to let go of what we think is right…..and to question some of the things we take for granted. Who knows…..in the midst of doing so, we might find Eternal life. +

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