Christ Lutheran Church
May 9, 2021
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
“As the Father loved me, I also love you. Dwell in my love. If you observe my commandments you will dwell in MY love; even as I keep/pf the commandments of my Father and dwell in his love. These things I speak/pf to you that MY joy may be in you; and that your joy may be full. This is MY commandment: that ye love one another as I have loved you. Greater love than this has no man, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do that which I command you. I no longer call you servants because the servant does not know what his master is doing; but you I designate/pf friends because all that I heard at my Father side I have made known to you.” John 15:9-15
Beloved in Christ, if we did not know it before, let us learn today that Eucharist and Love go together. So together, in fact, that the church must never talk about the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion without also talking about sacrificial love. First Christ’s, then our own in imitation of him.
These are the “commandments” that Jesus institutes on Maundy Thursday, just hours before his once-for-all Sacrifice: that we celebrate the Blessed Sacrament
“in remembrance of him;” and that we “love one another as he has loved us.” And how did he love us? This we learn clearly in today’s holy gospel: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. I have called you my friends.” (15:13)
And so these two, “This do in remembrance of me,” and “love one another” are inseparable; not just in theory but in practice. Don’t come to the altar unless you are willing to live the sacrificial life of love that proceeds from it.
It is the same message that we find St. John, the Lord’s beloved disciple, teaching years later: “For this is the love of God that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
And the same teaching that the church teaches today, 2000 years later, in Cleveland, Ohio, that these 2 are always found in one another’s company: Holy Communion and Holy Love.
We have often said, but it always bears repeating, that the pinnacle of Divine Service is to Commune with the Holy. To receive the Lord’s Living Flesh into our corrupt flesh. And as often as we do, as often as Death and Life thus contend Life always prevails.
The sin that abides in us, that is in our flesh, is no match for the resurrected Body of Christ that we partake of here every Sunday. For a brief moment we get a glimpse of heaven itself. Our faith overcomes the world, and our joy is made complete.
But what comes after this blessed summit? This Mount of Transfiguration? The answer in a word is love. Not just any old love. Erotic love, or the cheap imitation that the culture self-righteously chatters about – that intervenes when no intervention is wanted. That is not love but the desire to own you, dominate you, use and abuse you, and there is nothing worse than that.
Our modern day cultural high priests, do not love you. They don’t care about minorities, immigrants, women, homosexuals, the environment, the homeless or the poor. Those are all just pawns on a chess board that they use to win the game.
There is no sacrifice on their part, but they are very well compensated, invested with the power they lust for, and hailed and glorified by the people they despise. But they only take! They are only concerned about themselves.
And so don’t be fooled by them, and more importantly don’t imitate them because love never takes; love never gratifies itself, but it always gives, like Jesus did. Like Jesus does.
As we know and have heard many times the Eucharist proper begins at the Offertory, when the church offers bread and wine to her Lord, just like the young lad who brought 5 loaves and 2 fish to Jesus from which he fed more than 5,000 people.
The bread and fish he multiplied in quantity; but the Bread and Wine he multiplies in QUALITY so that in this Holy Eucharist we are fed not with mere bread and wine, but with our Lord’s own Flesh and Blood: for the sanctification of our souls and bodies; for the repelling of every adversary; for the illumining of the eyes of our hearts; for a faith undaunted; and a love unfeigned.
Now if the Eucharist begins with the Offering, when does it end?
Does it end when we leave the God’s altar and return to our seats?
No. But it ends when leave God’s house, and go back to our own houses, where we express the same sacrificial love that we received from the altar.
Beloved! When we accept this Holy Eucharist our lives are no longer our own. St. Paul says it like this: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Our lives now belong to Christ, and to one another. And so St. Paul further says, “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” And what is love? The ultimate sacrifice is to lay down your life in place of another person. To give up yours, so that the other may live.
Now we are not often called upon to make the “ultimate sacrifice” in the same way that members of the military and safety forces are; but that does not mean we shouldn’t be prepared. Because you never know, when you wake up in the morning, what may be required of you before the day is over.
But there is another way to lay down your life in Christ-like fashion that applies to every Christian; and that is to follow the dictates of love as taught by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Let us be attentive!
“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; and love never quits.”
This Dear Christians is Eucharistic Love. Christ’s love first by which our cups Aoverflow; then our love extended to one another. God grant it. Amen.