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Sermon on The Feast of Corpus Christi

Sermon on Corpus Christi 2017

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day
man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body of Christ is celebrated on the eighth Thursday after Easter. It celebrates and gives thanks for The Eucharist. It remembers and reflects on Maundy Thursday. Holy Week has its own focus – tonight we have space to reflect on the meaning of this wonderful meal
Corpus Christi’s was only instituted in the 14th century. St Juliana of Belgium, woman, was the great inspiration of the day. It was dropped in the reformation, but has made a gradual return.

We call this service we enter into tonight, – this sacred meal of the bread and wine, the liturgy of the Eucharist. How powerful is Liturgy, which means the work of the people of God?
I tell a story to show how powerful it is: I Communist Russia at a great gathering of people in a certain town, the leaders of the Communist regime are addressing the people. The Russian Orthodox priest is also invited to address the people. He is first told that he has 30 minutes to speaks, but the other leaders speak too long. They come to him and say, “you now have only ten minutes”. He say that that is all ne needs. They then come to tell him he has only five minutes. All the others they spoken too long in their praise of the party. Finally it is his turn. He only has two minutes, but he seems happy with that. He goes to the podium. There is a great silence. Then he cries aloud: Christ is Risen
And as one person they cry back in return, the great Easter response
Christ is risen Indeed. The story shows how deep the liturgy goes in us It is the
Frame/ the trellis/the container/ format – which often holds us as God’s people, through our faith times and our times of doubts.
Is it something that was just made up, certainly it evolved over the centuries?
It has its roots in the Scriptures?
It is like a dance, with many steps, many responses, but once you know the steps, you can fly like a dancer. Just a word or sentence may carry you away, so that you may end up in a different place, to the preacher, prayers, and others.
The great thanksgiving, for in it is the offering of the whole of life to God, through art, music, ritual, tradition, culture, material possessions and the offering of yourself, for consecration, for blessing and transformation, “that heaven and earth may be filled with the glory of God.”
Here is the still point in time when the past, present and future merge into one. Jesus told us to do this in Remembrance of him – when we remember something that thing in the past becomes a present reality, so that we experience it again. Through the Scriptures we experience our common past again. But the future for which we pray becomes present too. In the Eucharist Prayer we have a glimpse of that future: We call upon, “Angels and archangels, with all the company of heaven- the whole church past and present, all the saints and martyrs and heavenly beings to join us in the GREAT THANSGIVING. The future too is present.
And in it all this act of remembrance Christ becomes present for us.
From Mary Oliver’s Thirst:
1. The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church – the eucharist
Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.
They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward
to receive the gift
from the priest’s hand,
then the chalice.
They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.
I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds
or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man
and clearly
someone else
On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.
Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have. —Mary Oliver
I love to refer to this meal of the Bread and Wine as the Meal of our Humanity. As we break bread together we share in the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. For here we are fed by the one who is so truly human, and who shows us how to be human: Love one another as I have love you.
man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD
Bread – material possessions only, or Bread – spiritual manner from heaven, bread filled with divine presence
In another poems Mary Oliver says:
The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

God comes to us on our journey, God likes to dress up – God comes to us under the forms of Bread and Wine to feed us his Community, to feed us Body and Soul.
Because of this sacred meal, we are reminded that every meal is important and sacred. That is why we say grace before meals – a meal is a grace, a gift. We are people of grace who sit around our table and enter into conversation respecting the humanity of everyone present.
I wonder what Grace you say: Zorba the Greek is a famous character in work of Nikos Kazanzakis – he is a very earthy and inspirational character: I love his graces: he would look at the food on the table and say something like this:
Lord may this bread, and this leg of lamb, and these beans, become in us, be transformed into wonderful conversation, respect for each other, compassion for the needy, may this food become in us art and music and song and dance.
Some meal!
That’s how we are being fed in the Eucharist, God in bread and wine, transforming us.
One last thought Remember is to make present: When two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.

But there is another meaning: Re – member – to put all the members together again. To reassemble, to put all the parts together.
To become the members in the world that will make Christ present
Together as we share our gifts and talents – we make Christ active in the world
I came across this saying by Mahatma Ghandi, and it really blew my mind.
There are many people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of Bread.
There is mission in the Eucharist – God out be Christ in the would.
That is why Teresa of Avila can say this prayer, and I close with it.

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)
Christ Has No Body
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

One comment on “Sermon on The Feast of Corpus Christi

  1. Elizabeth Robinson says:

    Thank you Bob. We missed the Corpus Chrsiti service, but what an inspiring sermon. The Gandhi quote is mind blowing. Looking forward to Mary Oliver’s poetry.


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