Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, January 24, 2016 (3rd Sunday after Epiphany): Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10;
Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; and Luke 4:14-21
Having received what you are
may you become what you have received.
You may have noticed my use of this blessing after communion
and pondered it … or not.
It does not come from me, by the way.
I borrowed it from Augustine.**
And I love the way that it reminds us of how
hard it is to pin down just exactly how or where
God shows up.
It reminds us of the complex beauty of the body of Christ
— the incarnation of God —
and the amazing, growing, healing grace that is this incarnation.
It is already a matter of faith to see Jesus
—this human one, son of man —
as God enfleshed
Even on this side of the empty tomb — or maybe especially on this side of the empty tomb
we take this as a matter of faith.
Yet, we know or believe or trust
that this one
— born in Bethlehem of Judea, grown up on Nazareth, homeless rabbi,
killed on the cross by the Roman occupying force,
raised from the dead —
is the body of God —
the divine wrapped in human form —
the true vision and incarnation of the heart of God.
And yet, that is not all.
As though God shows up in the material just once
and dust and finite things
are now forever devoid of the holy and infinite —
Instead, in the night he was betrayed
Jesus took bread
and broke it
and said, “This is my body … for you.”
And one evening not long after in Emma’s
broke bread with a stranger
they met on the road
and they experienced the incarnate one of God
in broken bread.
And time after time
as the church gathers for communion
we experience in broken bread and wine
the very real presence of God
so near to us as to be touched and tasted and known
so near to us as to make us
even as we receive a foretaste
a hint of the holy
that is present in the ordinary.
And yet, that is not all.
And that is the promise of the blessing I say
and the promise of Paul’s letter for this morning —
that even as we long for
the incarnate, real, in-flesh presence of God
— the God who heals and restores
— the God who frees and redeems
— the God who creates and re-creates
we become that presence in this world.
We become the very body of Christ.
You are the very body of Christ.
In your brokenness
In your not-so-perfect life
In your very normal, boring everydayness —
You are the presence of God in the world.
God does not wait for perfect people
or whole lives
God is not interested in waiting for us all to get our acts together
or to be good enough.
Instead, God becomes real in us, ready or not.
God reaches out to care for this world through each of us
and of us together — as different as we may be.
In fact, it is in our diversity
— our diversity of gifts we share in different ways
all working toward the mission that Jesus read of from Isaiah:
the mission of freeing the captives,
restoring vision to this blind world,
healing one another and all creation.
It is when we find ourselves
with our own unique gifts
in our diverse communities
caught up in this vision
and this work of God
It is then that we find ourselves
broken for the world
and made whole in God.
**paraphrased from Augustine. The phrase is actually “Behold what you are. Become what you receive.” I simply modified it for the purposes of a post-communion blessing.