Vicar Maggie Westaby
Theologian and Author, Howard Thurman wrote “In a simple thing like bread… that is thoughtfully and carefully prepared… one may taste the richness of wheat or corn or barley that in its growth absorbed sunlight and rain and the rich chemistry of the soil. All the ingredients besides should serve to reveal and make available what the grain has stored up in its life under the skies.”
In this day and age, it is so easy to forget that bread has a history if you will. We simply go to the grocery store and buy a loaf, or we buy the ingredients to make a loaf. Very few of us grow the wheat, corn, oat, or barley needed for bread. And even fewer of us check the chemistry of our soil. We simply go to the toaster with a piece of bread… Forgetting all that has taken place… That in that piece of bread ancient sunlight has been made available for us to consume. Sunlight has been transformed because of the plants ability to harness and convert sunlight into food…
And just as plants have the ability to convert sunlight into food… God has the ability to make Christ available to us in the bread and in the wine of communion. Transforming life under these skies into something that is a part of God—into something that is specifically “for you.”
Because God is the life source of all transformations—from intricate plant and sun relationships to bringing Christ to us through the Word of God in Holy communion—God is at work in all spaces.
And through communion we enter a new space, a place where all are invited into a relationship that spans time and space. A space where we are united with all who have come before and all who will come after…
And today, we will celebrate that space, with Alex Natalie, Jerrin, Molly, and Vinca as they partake in their first communion… A space where we all experience transformation through the forgiveness of sins... Which in turn opens us up to live our lives knowing that in Christ we find our salvation. For as we were reminded in the gospel today, Christ’s body and blood has been given for you. It has been given to you out of God’s very being.
Which was made possible because Jesus lived His life completely of this earth. And like Howard Thurman said about bread, that “All ingredients should serve to reveal and make available what the grain has stored up in its life under the skies.” This is the exact same thing that Jesus was doing while He lived on this earth. For Jesus lived a life full of things that took place under these same skies.
Jesus experienced love, laughter, joy, community, pain, hurt, betrayal, trauma, aloneness, and death… “Ingredients” if you will, which also makes up our lives… So that He could connect and be with us in all things that we experience. And because Jesus is God, He baked each of those experiences or “ingredients” into God’s very being so that, there is no place you will go where God is not.
And because of Christ’s death and resurrection, because of Christ giving His body and blood to each one of us… Christ’s body lives on in us, so that we will never perish. Because communion is a foretaste of the feast to come, where we can taste the real richness that God has given to us. For it is here we find God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love.
And though Christ may no longer be in the physical body of Jesus… Christ’s body is still available to us through communion because of the Word of God. And just like we are able to consume sunlight in a normal loaf of bread… God’s Word makes it possible for us to consume God’s light—the light of Christ—through our communion meal. Because Christ has given of himself, so that we can be nourished in ways deeper than any loaf of bread ever could do…. What a gift! That has been given for you…. Amen