Corpus Christi - St George's

A Sermon preached by Margaret Houston on Corpus Christi at St George's Church (7 June 2015)

We meet new people all the time.  We learn about them through what they say, how they act, what they do, what other people say about them.  As we get to know them better, we learn more and more about them.

As Christians, we spend our lives getting to know God.  But except for the people who knew Jesus when he was here on earth, nobody has ever seen God, or talked to God, or touched God.  So how can we get to know God?

When we make something, like a story, or a work of art, we put a bit of ourselves into it. By looking at the artwork, we can get to know the artist.

God made the world, and the whole universe.  So this tells us a few things about God. It tells us that he loves to make things.   It tells us that he loves beautiful things – mountains and deserts and stars and clouds, oceans and whales and badgers and cats and dogs and people.  It tells us that everything in the earth is something God made – and just like it hurts you if someone rips up your painting, it hurts God when we spoil the earth.

And since God made each one of us, we can know God by seeing him in each other.  We are part of God’s creation, and when we act selfishly, or are mean to each other, we are spoiling things that God loves.  Getting to know other people, and seeing the good parts of them, means that we are getting to know God. That’s one of the reasons we worship in community, together – because God isn’t just in us and in nature, he’s in other people as well.

When we get to know someone, they tell us stories about their lives, and their families and friends tell us stories about them.  This is the story of God’s people – written by people, not by God – but it nevertheless tells us about what he’s like, from people who have experienced God coming into their lives, and into the world, and changing them.

And it tells us lots of things. It tells us so many different things about God that you can spend your whole life reading it over and over and still not understanding it. But one thing it definitely tells us is that God is love. God’s people, over and over, mess up. They lie and cheat and steal, they fight and hurt and kill, they trample the poor, they worship power and money instead of God – and yet God never gives up on them.   Jesus tells us that God is like a loving father, waiting for his child to come home. God is like a shepherd, looking for his lost sheep. The Bible says that God is like a rock in a storm, a place that protects us.  So by reading the Bible, hearing stories from people who have known God, we can get to know him better.

When we get to know someone, we talk to them.  Prayer is one way of talking to God. We say all different kinds of prayers – thank you prayers, sorry prayers, help prayers.  Sometimes we pray by sitting very still and quiet and listening. Sometimes we pray by walking around and thinking. We can pray lying in bed at night, or in the shower, or on the train.  We can pray by going out into God’s beautiful world and feeling close to him there.  Sometimes we might feel God talking back to us, sometimes we might now. Some people might never feel God talking back, but you can still talk to him.  So all of us can try to get to know God better by praying, spending time with him.

In the story Cordelia read for us before, we heard how God’s people, before Jesus, got to know God. 
They knew God through LAWS and SACRIFICE.

God gave the people the TEN BEST WAYS to live.
Worship no other Gods.
Don’t worship things you’ve made for yourself.
Be thoughtful in using God’s name.
Remember the holy and special days.
Honour your father and mother.
Do not lie about other people to get them in trouble.
Do not kill.
Do not steal.
Don’t break your marriage promises.
Be satisfied with what you have.

The people believed that being very careful about keeping these laws would help them get to know God. By living the way God wanted, they would find out about what God is like.

They also gave God offerings.  In the story, the priests killed a cow and offered it to God.  They believed that the blood of the animals would save the people.
And then, in the story Father Peter read for us, which you saw acted out, Jesus gave us new ways to know God.

He gave us this.  Sometimes we call it the Eucharist, which means “giving thanks.” Sometimes we call it Communion, which means “all being one together.”  Sometimes we call it “The Lord’s Supper.”  But it’s a wonderful gift that Jesus – who is God – gave us, to help us get to know Him better.

He said, “you don’t need the blood of animals. You only need my blood. My blood is a new promise that God is making.  And instead of sacrificing animals over and over, I only need to sacrifice myself once, for everyone.  My blood saves you because after I die, I will have a new kind of life, which everyone can share in.”

And he said, “you no longer need to follow the Ten Best Ways, because there’s One Best Way that’s more important than any other rule – if you follow it, you don’t need any other rules ever. And that One Best Way is love. If you love each other, whether you’re friends or enemies or strangers, that’s the only rule you ever need.”  And to show us that One Best Way, he gave us his body – he showed that he loved us so much that he died for us, to save us, to fight death for us and win.

And he gave us the bread and wine to help us remember this, and to get to know him more and more.

So even though Jesus died two thousand years ago, we can get to know him as his friends did by sharing in the bread and wine. We eat his body and drink his blood, and he feeds us, giving us life.

All of the other ways of getting to know God – exploring the world, reading the Bible, praying – and all of the ways God’s people knew God before Jesus – the Ten Best Ways, and the sacrifice – all of these help us get to know God.

But the bread and wine are things we can touch, and taste, and experience. They are God’s presence here, and now, among us.

So today we rejoice together, as God’s family, to welcome Pia, Lara, Felix, Edward, Tallulah, Scarlett, George, and Flora, as they get to know God in this new and intimate and wonderful way.
And we remember that all of us who worship Jesus are the Body of Christ in the world - we are his hands to help, and his heart to love.  Fed at this holy table, we are called to go out and be Jesus in the world today. How can you do that this week?

Holland Park Benefice