Christ Lutheran Church
August 6, 2023
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Jesus Our Liturgist
If you want to understand the 4 gospels you must not see them as a random collection of stories about Jesus, or a biography of Jesus, but as the record of the Lord’s very own liturgy. The liturgy that he offered to God in our place. In our place because the darkness and weight of sin had crushed our souls, and sucked out the Spirit that God breathed into man’s nostrils, when God had made him a living soul. (Gen. 2:7)
A living soul in love with the Living God – but whose affections were quickly stolen! Nicked by the Ancient Serpent which instantly caused Adam, Woman and all their descendants to die even before they began to live. To die to God, to gladness, and to our divine destiny. While bound to the cold, glazed, dazed insensate devil, whose only “joy” (if we can speak that way) is our misery.
But all that changed when Christ appeared, “and the soul felt its worth.”
Suddenly, in the “little town of Bethlehem” all things became new! Because Jesus was now here to conquer the devil, in the desert and on the cross, and do what we as sinners could not. Namely offer true liturgy to our Good God and Father.
Yes, Jesus is the true liturgist in Christian worship.
Our eyes see his ministers and priests at the altar, but it is the Son himself who liturgizes the Father in Spirit and Truth; but he never does so alone. Never alone, but always along with, and in union with, his baptismally-cleansed Bride the Church; and by it restores us to our eternal destiny.
Not will restore. But does restore because in this unparalleled Feast we have already begun to live our eternal life. Already now we have been inducted into the mutual love that exists among the Father Son and Holy Spirit. And there is nothing better than that!
How is this so?
It is what we find when we consider today’s gospel, and those of the last few weeks. St. Matthew shows us one continuous liturgy that Jesus offers “in the sight of every people.”
In chapter 12:1 of St. Matthew we find Jesus walking through the grain fields, already blessing bread for Eucharist. For “the feast of victory of our God.”
In 13:1 Jesus leaves the house he is in and goes to the sea shore, gets into the boat – which is the Church – and begins the Service we heard for the last 2 weeks.
And the moment he is done there (13:53) he returns to the his home town synagogue and leads the people there in yet another Service of Worship to our God; so that people might learn to offer “right praise” to him through the Son and the Holy Spirit.
And what Jesus did then, we are by his mercy still doing today. The particulars may be different, but the package is the same as even the rocks rise up to praise him!
In the meantime hostile King Herod is watching! Nothing escapes the eye of the king not then, not now. The world knows what we are up to – though it is incapable of understanding it. And it is most put out.
Because while the world worships itself, its accomplishments, its institutions, the planet, the environment, the created order most especially its dogs – Christians worship their God and Savior Jesus Christ who created all of this by his Word, and sustains it by his love. And while the poisonous trees of culture spews out their poisonous fruit, the church “prays without ceasing.”
The result? We are not team players. We always swim upstream. Our eyes are not on the lusts of life, but on the Bread of Life and all our hope is fixed on Jesus and the Reign of Heaven.
Now today’s gospel teaches us the summit of the Holy Christian Religion, and does so in a most unforgettable way. When the disciples report that it was getting late and the people were hungry, Jesus says to these bishops in training, “Give them something to eat.”
The 12 are floored! They can’t imagine how, but desperately suggest sending the people to the closest towns to buy food. Imagine! A crowd of 5,000 men, along with their women and children, perhaps 40,000 people all told, trying to find sustenance there. It was insane!
What town, or collection of towns, can support a sudden influx of 40,000 hungry people. It is a farce, but the disciples, in all fairness, were still students. They had not seen what we see.
They had not seen the Lord offer the Ultimate Sacrifice on the cross to atone for our sins. The Ultimate Liturgy by becoming obedient to the Father to the point of death, even the death of the cross - the Liturgy of all liturgies, which empowers our Eucharistic gathering today; and by which we will eat rich fare forever!
Nor had they seen him institute the Blessed Sacrament as of yet by which the nutrients of the imminent sacrifice were to be given to sinners. The Daily Bread that fills us with comfort every day, even if we only celebrate it every seven. Because the life of a Christian runs from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, and will so continue until we join the “Great Congregation” of heaven.
Seeing things as we now do could we ever absent ourselves from this unspeakable gift? Ever let a Sunday go by where we attend to something more important? Or could we ever return to past practices: to so called “non-communion Sundays” where Jesus is barred from his church? A day we have little interest in the Grandest Miracle of all.
St. Matthew reports that they gave Jesus 5 loaves of bread, and 2 fish which he multiplied in Quantity; and with them he fed many thousands of people and concluded with more provision than he started.
Today the church brings her offerings, too. In our case currency with which the church purchases Bread and Wine, by which our Celebrant in the Person of Jesus again multiplies it in our sight. Not in Quantity this time, but in Quality! We offer him bread and wine and he returns it to as the very Body and Blood of Jesus. The delightful food that Isaiah predicts in today’s Old Testament lesson when he says: (55)
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
This is our Daily Bread. And so let us “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.” Amen