Sermons from St Faith's   


Rev Sue Lucas

Wher’er the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always food and good red wine -
At least, I’ve always found it so –
Benedicamus Domino.

Do you know those lines from Hillaire Belloc?  I’ve always found them to be rather true.  It’s been true here at St Faith’s.  My first Sunday here began with a meal – and next weekend we’ll have a bit of a knees up as I go on my way.  And along the way, there’ve been Sunday lunches, Corpus Christi parties, barbecues, catering at the Christmas Tree Festival, suppers with Mirfield students at which a number of you have offered hospitality, not to mention birthday cakes…the ministry team said Morning Prayer together on Maundy Thursday then shared breakfast, and just yesterday there was delicious lemon drizzle cake as we polished and buffed the church to within an inch of its life!  I wore my jeans for the work day yesterday and had to admit to them being a little tighter than they were two years ago!

This is very fitting.  We’ve been reflecting this week on the sacramental nature of Catholic Christianity, and how it translates into the mission of the God of love.  And, throughout scripture,  it is in meals that division is turned into friendship, slavery into salvation, scarcity into plenty, sorrow into joy.  Think of the Passover, God’s deliverance of his people from slavery to freedom; Levi the tax collector holding a banquet for sinners and tax collectors; and the feeding of the five thousand, where the economy of price controls, of trade tariffs and not enough is turned into God’s economy that satisfies the crowd and leaves twelve baskets over.

And, of course, on Maundy Thursday, we recalled the Last Supper, the Passover of the Lord – amidst the failure of human love, amidst betrayal of trust, failure of understanding, jockeying for power and position, and failure to stay awake – Jesus gives us himself, relentless love, and even amidst the ‘powers of darkness,’ there is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.

One writer has suggested that eating and drinking are so much part of scripture that ‘Christ is a sort of book inscribed in human flesh, and eating the body of Christ is like eating a book.’ (Loughlin, Telling God’s Story quoted in Wells, God’s Companions, p 27).

Well, today, the powers of darkness are comprehensively overcome, and Christ gives us himself as the risen Lord, the first fruits of the dead, as the Easter Anthems puts it.  Jesus shows his disheartened and discouraged disciples that what they took to be disaster, failure and scarcity – their loss of Jesus – was in fact God’s glorious abundance.

The pattern of John’s Gospel echoes the pattern of Genesis 1 – the creation; on the first day, we encounter Jesus, the light of the world; and just two weeks ago, on Passion Sunday, Jesus restores Lazarus to life; and the breathing of life into his humanity, like Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones, prefigures today – the 8th day, the new creation, the new humanity – that is why fonts are octagonal, of course! We are once more in a garden – but in this garden, even our tendency to undo ourselves is itself undone And he does so not through political power and might; not through self-righteousness or vindication; but by gathering those who are exiled and suffering, who are marginal and excluded, who are despised and rejected – by taking on the groaning and travail of all creation in exile on the Cross, and so bringing to birth a new creation in the resurrection.  Of course, it doesn’t end here – though there is another meal beyond today’s Gospel, a fried fish supper, in fact.  For we now, as the body of Christ the Church, rejoice with our risen Lord for 50 days:

50 days for our delight for Christ is risen as all things tell, good Christian, see ye rise as well.

And then, like the disciples – we are sent out – to Judea, to Samaria – we might add, to Syria, to the Refugee Village in Calais, to Brussels and Paris and Westminster, to all the corridors of power, to Waterloo Sierra Leone, to all places war- torn and war-weary, and we might add, to Waterloo and Crosby too – to witness to the new creation in which God has given us everything we need - to be his friends, to sit and eat with him. 


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