Deep In Our HeartsPosted: March 22, 2015
Deep in Our Hearts
SLIDE 5: LIVING PRESENCE IN THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD
After the death of Rabbi Jesus his followers experienced his living presence among them, especially when they gathered at the Sharing Table for their communal meal. Each day in the Jerusalem Church they gathered for “the breaking of the bread,” when everyone who showed up was fed, and Jesus was remembered in song, prayer, in story, and the ritual meal. We cannot know exactly what they recalled of the night of that Last Supper just before Jesus was arrested. It was a jumble of memories. At the time, none of them had understood what was happening. They were arguing about who would become the Prime Minister in the new government, when they crowned Jesus as the King, while Jesus was trying to say, “Good-bye,” and warned them of the terrible death he was about to suffer.
SLIDE 6: I WILL WRITE MY LAW UPON THEIR HEARTS
We do not know what all they recollected or how accurately they remembered their last meal with Jesus, but somehow in retrospect the words of Jeremiah the prophet helped to sear into their memories the words and actions of that Last Supper. “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother and sister, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
SLIDE 7: TAKE AND EAT
And so they recollected that he took bread and broke it and said to them, “Take eat, for this is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” And after supper he took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out of the forgiveness of sins.” And so each day as the followers of Jesus gathered together to share their communal meal — the Sharing Table — they passed the bread and the cup and once again they experienced the living presence of the Christ among them.
SLIDE 8: MAUNDY THURSDAY
This morning we revisit the words of Jeremiah the prophet in anticipation of Maundy Thursday now only eleven days away. Next Sunday we will re-enact the entry into Jerusalem of Palm Sunday, and then we will gather in the evening of the Thursday of Holy Week to remember that Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples that has become the focal point of Christian worship.
SLIDE 9: THE MEANING OF LOVE IN EVERY CELL OF OUR BODIES
The point of that Last Supper was for Jesus to once again imprint his meaning on the minds and hearts of his closest followers, and thereby insure the continuation of the message of love. Last week we talked about praying with our hearts, minds, spirits, and our bodies. In the remembrance of the Last Supper Jesus engages all of our senses, sight, sound, hearing, touch, smell, taste. In the eating and drinking we meditate on the message of love with our hearts, minds, spirits, our noses, our tongues, our stomachs. Jesus attempts to engage all of us, in order to imprint the meaning of love not only in our minds but in every cell of our bodies.
Taking bread, Jesus blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”
He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood poured out for you.” Jesus gave his followers a ritual method for remembering his message, and lo and behold, when they remembered they experienced the living presence of Jesus among them.
SLIDE 10: LOVE ONE ANOTHER
At that Last Supper Jesus said, “Let me remind you of the most important commandment: Love one another. In the same way I have loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.”
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might become your joy, and your joy might become wholly mature. So again, this is my command: Love one another the way I have loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the God.”
SLIDE 11: FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT THAT DON’T SPOIL
“Remember, you didn’t choose me; I chose you, and I have sent you into the world to bear fruit, fruits of the spirit that don’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask of God she will give you. But remember the root command: Love one another.”
SLIDE 12: AGAPE
The love embraced by the way of Jesus is best expressed by the Greek word Agape. Agape denotes an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable good will, that always seeks the highest good for the other, no matter what he or she does.
SLIDE 13: EROS – ENHANCED COMPLICATION
Eros is the love that is enhanced but also complicated by sexual attraction. The passion and intensity of sexual desire is certainly a mystery, and also problematic. God creates sexual desire, blesses it and says, “It is good, it is very good.” But sexual attraction is complicated.
SLIDE 14: PHILEO – MUTUAL TRUST AND AFFECTION
Phileo is the love of friendship based upon mutual trust and affection. Why do we like some people more than others? Who knows? But certainly we find ourselves more inclined toward friendship with some people instead of others. Both Eros and Phileo love tend to be based upon a certain amount of reciprocity. I take care of you, you take care of me.
SLIDE 15: SELF-GIVING WITHOUT ASKING IN RETURN
Agape is the self-giving love that gives freely without asking anything in return, and does not consider the worth of its object. It is a love by choice and refers to our will rather than our emotion. Agape describes the unconditional love God has for the world. Agape is the kind of love we offer to our enemies. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Certainly I would hope that agape is the driving force in our non-violent movement. It is certainly the ideal for which we aim.” And that reminds me of a story.
SLIDE 16: LOVE OF ENEMIES
A priest was giving a homily based on Jesus’s command to love your enemies. “Now,” he said, “I’ll bet that many of us feel as if we have enemies in our lives,” so raise your hands, if you have many enemies.” Quite a few people raised their hands. “Now raise your hands if you have only a few enemies.” And about half as many people raised their hands. “Now raise your hands if you have only one or two enemies.” And even fewer people raised their hands.
“See,” said the priest, “most of us feel like we have enemies.”
“Now raise your hands if you have no enemies at all.” The priest looked around, and finally, way in the back, a very, very old man raised his hand.
The old man stood up and said, “I have no enemies.”
Delighted, the priest invited the man to the front of the church. “What a blessing!” the priest said. “How old are you?
“I’m 98 years old, and I have no enemies.”
The priest said, “What a wonderful Christian life you have led! And tell us all how it is that you have no enemies?”
The old man replied, “All the SOBs have died!”
SLIDE 17: SPIRITUAL FRUIT
Embracing God’s love for the world, Jesus has appointed those who follow his way to bear spiritual fruit. According to Paul the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — join me: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The fruits of the spirit result from practicing the ways of love. But we must remember the kind of love that leads to bearing the fruits of the spirit is agape that always embraces concrete individuals and not some abstract humanity — like in our Peanuts Cartoon.
SLIDE 18: IT’S PEOPLE I CAN’T STAND
Sally: “You a doctor?! Ha! That’s a big laugh! You could never be a doctor! You know why? Because you don’t love humankind, that’s why!
Linus: “I love humankind. . . It’s people I can’t stand!!”
SLIDE 19: FOLLOWING THE WAY OF JESUS CHANGES OUR HEARTS
No, when we love with agape, we open ourselves up to the needs of individual human beings. Individual people will make inconvenient demands. They sometimes stink and have bad breathe, and they are sometimes narcissistic and are lacking in social graces. Individual humans in need often don’t come from our own socio-economic or ethnic group. The needy ones most of the time are not part of our club and yet they desperately want help and crave acceptance. Following the way of Jesus is a challenge that will change our hearts as Jeremiah said, I will put my law within you, and I will write it upon your hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
SLIDE 20: ONE ACT OF LOVING KINDNESS AT A TIME
And how are our hearts changed? Listen again to Jesus. “Remember, you didn’t choose me; I chose you, and I have sent you into the world to bear fruit, fruits of the spirit that don’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask of God she will give you. But remember the root command: Love one another.” Trust God. As we follow Jesus performing simple acts of loving kindness, especially when we don’t particularly feel like it, God will change us, and like those first disciples after the resurrection the living presence of Christ will come alive in us.